web Musings of The Global Traveller

Monday, November 19, 2007

UK carry on rules to be relaxed ... maybe ... for some

The Cranky Flier recently reported on the recent announcement that UK carry on rules will be allowed to be relaxed from January 7. Given the process - each airport is invited to apply to allow their passengers to have a 2nd carry on - I was sceptical.

[A reminder that for the past year and a bit, UK has imposed stricter carry on requirements than anywhere else. You can take 1 bag through security, of certain dimensions (most US rollaboards are too big), and no extra personal items. The laptop or handbag or book or whatever you are carrying must be able to fit inside your 1 bag. The reason for this is mainly due to airport incompetence - insufficient screening staff to deal with the normal 2 or 3 carry on items allowed elsewhere.]

Now BAA, owner and operator of most of the biggest UK airports admits in this Times Online story that they are not in a position to allow 2 carry ons for all passengers. What a surprise - not. In what seems a pathetic gesture designed to allow BAA to say they tried, they intend applying to allow fast-track eligible passengers to carry a 2nd item but only at London Heathrow to start with.

So if departing UK from London Heathrow in first or business class, or have the right frequent flyer status, and you can take a 2nd item onboard. In economy - sorry you must have only 1 item. Leaving from another BAA airport (eg Aberdeen, Edinburgh, London Gatwick, Glasgow, Southampton, London Stansted) and you are out of luck. If transferring at London Heathrow through flight connection centre only British Airways and Qantas can use fast track - so even first class passengers of other airlines draw the short straw.

If it does go as announced then I expect there will be chaos for the first few weeks. Just how many passengers, travel agents and check in staff around the world who use London Heathrow infrequently know the specific criteria used and how it will affect them or their customers?

I think London Heathrow will remain on my "try to avoid flying to/through there" list for some time to come.

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