With various different hand luggage standards across airlines, it can be difficult to avoid hidden fees.
MEPs are pushing for carry-on baggage fees to become a thing of the past as the EU looks to simplify ticket pricing for air travel.
Lawmakers voted to support a resolution that calls on airlines to guarantee that passengers can carry "reasonable" sized cabin baggage free of charge.
It urges countries to enforce a ruling on hand luggage made by the European Court of Justice back in 2014. EU legislation on air passenger rights should be revised to offer a solution, says the resolution.
MEPs argue that new legislation could also address other hidden costs like seat fees. The plan still needs support from the European Commission and EU countries.
What does a ban on cabin luggage fees mean for passengers?
There are two major problems to be solved: airlines having inconsistent hand luggage policies that cause confusion for passengers. Plus unclear advertising that could mean hidden baggage fees when buying your ticket.
In 2014, the European Court of Justice ruled that cabin baggage which complies with “reasonable” requirements for size and weight was an essential part of air travel. The court effectively decided that passengers shouldn’t have to pay extra - but the decision was never enforced.
MEPs stress that when reviewing the current EU Air Services legislation, the Commission should fully implement the relevant ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU. They are also seeking clarity for passengers on exactly what a “reasonable” size and weight is.
Weight and size standards can vary wildly between different airlines. This is especially problematic for passengers with connecting flights on different airlines that have different standards, increasing the chance they have to pay extra fees at the boarding gate.
The EU is also urging airlines to be more upfront with passengers when providing information about additional costs, like charges for seat allocation, and flight timing.
Airlines ‘play with prices and deceive travellers’
The potential ban on cabin bag fees is part of a wider drive to simplify ticketing and fees for air travel across the EU.
Earlier this year, Spain’s Ministry of Consumer Affairs launched an investigation into multiple low-cost airlines over hand luggage fees. It said that separating these fees from ticket prices meant carriers could offer competitive prices that didn’t reflect the total cost that passengers paid.
Consumers therefore could be misled into believing that they were getting a better deal than they actually are. There are also concerns that search engines may give an unfair advantage to airlines advertising these super-low fares.
“Low-cost airlines do business with the price of tickets by hiding the extra for carrying cabin baggage until the end of the purchase,” said Spanish MEP Jordi Cañas.
“Europe has already spoken out on the subject, but member states continue to allow airlines to play with prices and deceive travellers. This must stop.”