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Lawmakers to Airlines: ‘Enough Already!’

SmarterTravel

Last week, the International Air Transport Association proposed a new airline-industry standard that would reduce the maximum volume allowed for carry-on bags by around 20 percent.

The move was widely interpreted as a cynical ploy to enable the airlines, which IATA is in the business of promoting, to charge even more flyers to check bags that didn’t comply with the new rule.

Not surprisingly, New York Senator Chuck Schumer was quick to pounce on the move. “Enough already. The airlines already charge more for checked baggage, pillows, peanuts and head phones. It’s got to stop somewhere.”

Schumer wasn’t alone in excoriating the proposed changes. Senator Bob Menendez of New Jersey called IATA’s recommendation “another industry ploy related to baggage fees.”

As both a U.S. Senator and consumer I’m obviously concerned this proposal to cut the size of allowable carry-ons is a gimmick so airlines can keep padding those bag profits. I’m telling U.S. airlines that if our luggage has to go on a diet, the result cannot be another airline-industry profit binge. We already have less seat-space, less leg-room, fewer options and higher costs—we have to stand up for consumers and say ‘no’ to the airline industry.

Menendez is among the signatories to a letter to U.S. airline CEOs requesting their companies’ official position on the IATA proposal.

For its part, IATA was apparently chastened by the outpouring of negative attention its “Cabin OK” initiative received, and issued a follow-up news release, headlined “IATA Clarifies Cabin OK Initiative.” Among the release’s key points:

Cabin OK is an optimum size, not a maximum size. We use the word “optimum” because the Cabin OK dimensions have been calculated to allow all passengers on board a typical jet aircraft of 120 seats or more to be able to carry-on one piece of baggage in the normally available storage space.

And this, addressing the widespread perception of gouging:

Cabin OK is not a revenue generating scheme for the airlines. For the vast majority of airlines, the current practice when all baggage complying with maximum size limits cannot fit into the cabin storage is to check this baggage in the aircraft hold free of charge. The Cabin OK initiative will not change this practice.

However this turns out—and so far, no U.S. airlines have had the temerity to publicly support the IATA initiative—the content and tenor of the public’s reaction is a clear indication of the prevailing high level of distrust enjoyed by the airlines.

Reader Reality Check

What else should travelers just say “No” to?

This article originally appeared on FrequentFlier.com.

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