Airlines around the world carry on top of passengers, their baggage. Carried baggage adds to the total weight of the aircraft resulting in increased fuel consumption. Increased fuel prices led airlines around the world to introduce baggage fees to improve their revenues against their increased operating costs. This option was initially introduced in hold luggage, baggage that is not taken in to the cabin by the passenger. Over time though, several airlines, primarily low cost carriers, introduced fees for carry on baggage too.
In 2019, 4.397 billion people flew according to the World Bank (2020) when ICAO reported 4.5 billion passengers for the same period (ICAO, 2019). According to the same report, ICAO estimates that 1.4 billion passengers in 2019 were carried by low-cost carriers, approximately 31 per cent of the world total scheduled passengers. The annual growth in passenger numbers in 2019 compared to the previous year was 5.3 per cent for low-cost carriers, almost 1.5 times the rate of the world total average passenger growth which was 3.6 per cent (ICAO, 2019).
Despite their massive growth and their increasing market share which accounted for 31 percent in 2019, low-cost carriers do not have a common approach on the size of cabin baggage or the pricing policy. There are airlines who charge, airlines that do not charge at all, and other that charge or not, depending on the type of fare of ancillary services (add on) the passenger purchased. These differences are addressed in this paper in order to create groups of carriers that have very similar policies on pricing and accepting carry on baggage.
There is limited literature related to baggage and pricing policies around them, let alone policies related to carry on baggage. One of the first scholars referring to passenger accompanied luggage is Williams (1977) who referred to rail passengers and their luggage.
This study examines the baggage policies of the best low cost carriers in the world according to the 2019 Skytrax World Airline Awards. These are fifty low cost carriers that carried over 1 billion passengers in 2019, just under 25% of the world’s airline passengers. The data were collected by accessing each airline’s internet page and the information was collated in order to examine, baggage dimensions, weight and pricing policies. It is evident that there is no common approach leading to misinterpretations, confusion and inconsistency when it comes to carry on baggage policies. The main findings of this study highlight those differences and conclude with suggestions for the airlines or policy makers in order to streamline the policies covering carry on baggage. In addition, 2019 has been a very successful year for the low cost sector and the international tourism market where operations were not affected by external factors like in the following years.
The study focuses on low cost carriers due to the popularity of these carriers, their increased market share and the concept that flying on a low cost carrier is cost effective and straight forward. The lack of literature in the above subject might open a new area for research and discussion in order to provide solutions to the issue that is being addressed.
Arvanitis, P. (2022). Carry-on baggage on low-cost carriers. A no-frills journey? THE INC (Tourism, Hospitality & Events International Conference) 22 – 24 June 2022, Limassol, Cyprus. In Tourism, Hospitality & Events Innovation and Resilience during Uncertainty (154-155)