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Schumer says new airline carry-on rules won’t fly

June 15, 2015 By Paula Katinas Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Sen. Charles Schumer says airline passengers already pay high fees. Eagle file photo by Bill Kotsatos
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U.S. Senator Charles Schumer has a two-word message for the multi-billion-dollar airline industry: Enough already!

Charging that it would cause an unfair financial burden on airline passengers, Schumer blasted a plan to reduce the size of allowable carry-on luggage for travelers.

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) recently announced plans to standardize the maximum size of carry-on luggage from 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 9 inches deep, the current standard, to 21.5 inches tall, 13.5 inches wide and 7.5 inches deep.

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The new standard would reduce the size of an item of carry-on luggage by 20 percent.

If the plan is adopted, passengers might be forced to spend hundreds of dollars on new luggage in order to meet the new criteria, according to Schumer, who spoke on Sunday about the controversial plan. He also said air travelers who decide not to buy new luggage might be forced to check their bags and spend money on fees they’ve never been subject to before.

Schumer said the plan is outrageous, especially since airlines routinely charge fees for all sorts of amenities during a flight.

“Enough already,” he said. “The airlines already charge more for checked baggage, pillows, peanuts and head phones. It’s got to stop.”

The new policy places an additional financial burden on travelers who are already spending hundreds to thousands of dollars for flights, according to Schumer. 

“With already sky-high airfares, travelers should not be forced to spend hundreds of dollars on new carry-on luggage to fit this newly proposed policy for airlines,” Schumer said. “I am urging airlines to ground any attempts to change the current carry-on luggage policies that travelers are already familiar with and accustomed to. Air travelers should not be forced to pay more fees or buy new luggage.” 

Schumer also pointed out that IATA also projected industry profits to reach an all-time high of nearly $30 billion this year. 

Major international airlines including Lufthansa, Emirates, Air China, Avianca, Azul, Pacific, China Southern and Qatar, have already agreed to adopt the new carry-on policy, which could hurt U.S. travelers abroad, Schumer said.

American Airlines, Delta Airlines and United Airlines currently allow carry-on bags that are 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide and 9 inches deep.  Southwest allows carry-on bags that are 24 inches tall, 16 inches wide and 10 inches deep. Spirit Airlines allows carry-on bags that are 22 inches tall, 18 inches wide and 10 inches deep.

The IATA, which announced the new carry-on luggage plan June 9, claimed that the new standard is the ideal size for cabin storage space and would help alleviate the problem that passengers often face in which the plane runs out of storage space by the time they board.

“The development of an agreed optimal cabin bag size will bring common sense and order to the problem of differing sizes for carry-on bags,” IATA Senior Vice President Tom Windmuller said in a statement. “We know the current situation can be frustrating for passengers. This work will help to iron out inconsistencies and lead to an improved passenger experience.”

But Schumer has fought the airline industry before and won. In 2010, he fought back against a proposal to charge for carry-on bags. Schumer reached out to airline chief executives and urged them to reconsider the idea. The airlines dropped the plan.

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