That Plan to Shrink Carry-On Bags? Not So Fast!

Airline industry group initiative hits a wall of opposition from consumers, and some lawmakers.

Perhaps you won’t need to toss out your favorite carry-on luggage after all.

Less than two weeks after the International Air Transport Association launched an initiative to reduce the size of carry-on bags, the industry group is backpedaling.

The IATA proposal to shrink carry-ons by 21 percent sparked outrage with many consumers in the United States, who balked at potentially having to choose between coughing up more money for a smaller bag or keeping their existing bag, but having to pay to check it.

The IATA announced it is “pausing the rollout” of the carry-on bag initiative in order to conduct a “comprehensive reassessment in light of concerns expressed, primarily in North America.”

Although the IATA says the proposal, dubbed “Cabin OK,” was aimed at accommodating more bags in overhead bins, others questioned whether the move was merely an attempt to pad airlines’ profits with more checked-bag fees, the Chicago Tribune reported.

“After standing up for consumers and saying ‘no’ to the airline industry, I am pleased that the IATA has done the right thing and parked its proposal in the hangar,” said Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., the ranking member of the Senate Banking Subcommittee on Housing, Transportation and Community Development. “Fliers who own previously approved carry-on bags should not have had to cough up another baseless fee to the airline industry.”

Eight major international airlines had already agreed to adopt the IATA’s new carry-on size guidelines, but no U.S. airline had committed to the smaller bags. Airlines for America, the U.S. airline association, was quick to distance itself from the IATA’s initiative after the group announced it was backing off the plan, according to the Tribune.

“Our members already have guidelines in place on what size bags they can accommodate, making this action unnecessary,” said Nicholas E. Calio, CEO of Airlines for America.

Although the IATA’s proposed carry-on sizes were merely guidelines for airlines, which could either choose to adopt them or ignore them, it appears many people viewed them as mandatory new standards.

“Our focus is on providing travelers with an option that would lead to a simplified and better experience. … Cabin OK is a voluntary program for airlines and for consumers,” said Tom Windmuller, IATA’s senior vice president for Airport, Passenger, Cargo and Security.” This is clearly an issue that is close to the heart of travelers. We need to get it right.”

What do you think of the Cabin OK proposal and the IATA’s backpedaling? Share your comments below or on our Facebook page.

Stacy Johnson

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