A relaxation of strict hand luggage rules comes into effect today (7 January) at 21 UK airports, but some airlines are sticking to their one-bag policy regardless.
The British Airports Authority (BAA) has urged passengers to double-check what their airline allows before they fly.
"We will be helping to advertise the changes in Government baggage restrictions at our airports, but it is important that passengers check with their airline before travelling as carriers have different policies governing the number of items of hand baggage which may be taken in to the aircraft cabin,” said a BAA spokesman.
”To help passengers further, we will also be asking airlines to ensure that passengers clearly understand airline baggage policies at the check-in points, before they pass through security.”
Gatwick is the only BAA airport with restrictions still in place, but these will be lifted ”in the near future”. Passengers connecting flights through the South terminal can take more than one piece of hand baggage if their airline allows, and ” from 11 February ” those connecting via its North terminal.
While remaining UK airports wait for the required security upgrades, various airlines are stating whether they are updating their policies.
Those now allowing customers to take two bags onboard at approved airports include British Airways, Virgin Atlantic (only in Upper Class), bmi (business and premium economy) and Flybe (a bag plus a laptop in Economy Plus). In addition, bmi will allow passengers to take ”one personal item” with them, including a laptop.
”This is great news for our customers at Heathrow and it”s something we”ve been lobbying for over the last year,” said BA commercial director, Robert Boyle.
”It was a serious inconvenience for passengers and didn”t make sense because the UK was the only country to impose the restrictions. Now we want to see them lifted at Gatwick.”
Budget airlines easyJet and Ryanair are sticking to a blanket one-bag policy.
Lobby group the Air Transport Users Council (ATUC) has told the government it is worried about the potential for confusing passengers.
"Since August 2006, we have all been urging people to become acquainted with the one-bag rule and to read the [official] advice,” said ATUC chief executive, Simon Evans. ”Now the message has changed and there is no longer one consistent message."
But a BAA spokesman said: "The good news is that passengers can have a choice. Because we've invested in staff, because we've invested in equipment, we can offer airlines - and those airlines that want to then offer it to their passengers - the choice of having more than one bag."
Airports so far approved by the Department of Transport are listed on its website (www.dft.gov.uk) and include Heathrow, Stansted, London City, Edinburgh and Manchester, but not other major gateways such as Gatwick, Bristol, Luton, Leeds Bradford, Exeter, East Midlands or Liverpool.
Size limits on liquids and cabin baggage still apply.