Thursday, June 18, 2015

Carry On Bags as Freight to Continue as IATA Pauses Innovative Scheme

US Resistance Causes Reassessment of Initiative
Shipping News Feature

WORLDWIDE – As any seasoned traveller knows there are many occasions when, due to the quantity and size of fellow air passengers’ carry-on luggage, those last to their seats are told that their bags must be stowed in the hold with the freight, the overhead bins already having been filled. Now an innovative scheme proposed by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) which claims to represent some 83% of the world’s air traffic, has had to pause the rollout of its ‘Cabin OK ‘initiative and begin a comprehensive reassessment in light of concerns expressed, primarily in North America.

The scheme was launched on 9 June 2015 with the aim of providing passengers with greater assurance that their carry-on bags will travel with them in the aircraft cabin, even when the flight is full. The initiative is intended to provide consumers with a voluntary option to use a Cabin OK labelled bag (with optimally sized dimensions of 55 x 35 x 20 cm or 21.5” x 13.5” x 7.5" inches) that would (1) be immediately recognizable as complying with the vast majority of airline maximum size requirements for cabin baggage and (2) be given a priority (determined by airlines individually) to remain in the cabin on full flights when cabin storage capacity is exceeded.

While the value of Cabin OK has been welcomed by many, including a growing list of airlines expressing interest in the programme, there has also been much confusion. In North America particularly, there have been significant concerns raised in the media and by key stakeholders causing this delay. IATA has reiterated some key principles of the Cabin OK initiative which will continue to guide the reassessment: Cabin OK is a guideline for an optimally sized cabin bag, not an industry standard. Cabin OK does not seek to define a maximum size for carry-on bags, which is something each airline does individually, and no consumer will be forced into buying a new bag as a result of this voluntary initiative. Tom Windmuller, Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security commented:

“Our focus is on providing travellers with an option that would lead to a simplified and better experience. While many welcomed the Cabin OK initiative, significant concerns were expressed in North America. Cabin OK is a voluntary program for airlines and for consumers. This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travellers. We need to get it right. Today we are pausing the rollout and launching a comprehensive reassessment of the Cabin OK program with plans to further engage programme participants, the rest of our members, and other key stakeholders.”