Italy Bans Use Of Airplane Overhead Bins

Filed Under: Travel

We’ve seen all kinds of policies introduced to try and keep passengers safe when traveling by air. Some of these policies have been government mandated, while others have been introduced by airlines. Well, Italy as a country has just introduced a new rule for air passengers, which some airlines (and maybe passengers) will be very unhappy about.

Italy bans hand luggage on planes

As of this past Friday (June 26, 2020), Italy’s National Civil Aviation Authority has banned the use of overhead bins for “health reasons.” Passengers are allowed to bring small personal items onboard that can fit underneath the seat in front of them, but they can’t use overhead bins.

This applies to both domestic and international flights, on both Italian and foreign airlines.

Overhead bins can no longer be used on flights to & from Italy

What’s the logic for this policy?

The policy makes sense… kind of.

The idea is that when passengers place bags in the overhead bins there’s a lot more crowding in the aisles, both during boarding and deplaning, which isn’t great in terms of distancing.

Italian consumer association Codacons was in favor of this, saying that this would “avoid the chaos” that occurs during boarding:

“In this area, the Italians are among the most unruly travellers in Europe, causing delays and queues which today would fuel the risk of contagion.”

Arguably there’s another side to this, though. While it’s true that people crowding in the aisles probably isn’t ideal, the reality is that when checking bags you’re increasing your touch points during the journey.

That’s to say that you need to go to check-in to drop off your bag, more people will be touching your bag, you’ll need to go to baggage claim, which is often crowded, etc.

I question whether banning carry-ons actually reduces exposure for passengers.

Passengers will now have to check all bags

Some airlines have issues with this policy

As you’d expect, some airlines have serious problems with Italy’s policy. They’re now required to allow passengers to check bags at no extra cost. Given that so many airlines in Europe have an ultra low cost business model, including a (forced) checked bag with a ticket isn’t great in terms of ancillary revenue opportunities.

Ultra low cost carriers won’t be happy about this

Bottom line

Italy is now banning use of the overhead bins onboard planes until further notice. This is in order to prevent people from crowding in the aisles onboard planes as much as possible. While I can appreciate that logic, on the other hand I’m not sure the benefit of that outweighs people lining up at check-in to check their bags, and people crowding at baggage claim.

What do you make of Italy banning carry-on bags?

  1. since the airlines started to charge for luggage, now everybody carried the max allowed in the overhead bins, overcrowded planes, with overcrowded overhead bins means a lot more time getting in and out and a lot more exposure to fellows travelers. no social distances trying to get your things from up there.

  2. People stupidly crowd around the baggage carousel, too. (However, I’ll be ecstatic if airlines can’t charge for checked bags anymore.)

  3. Not good because I always have a carry on with me with few days of change clothes and a toiletry bag so that in case my luggage go missing, at least I’ll have clothes to change into. Now traveling to Italy means I have to forgo my self imposed “insurance”…. I suppose I can carry a small duffle bag and put one day of change clothes and a toiletry bag in it. With that said, this is really not ideal. Hopefully it’ll change back when someone develops a vaccine.

  4. Meanwhile LCC are still selling and promoting “priority” upgrades to take your bags on board… I have 4 domestic flight in the next 2 months and i think i will have to spend at least 1 or 2 hours more at the airport for each of them because of this rule. Don’t forget that many italian airports are really small and cramped, queues for baggage drop in the small halls are going to be crazy.

  5. If they are going to introduce this, then they may as well make everyone walk up to the planes, so that both forward and back doors can be used. Hand-luggage could be left on the tarmac and picked up likewise on the tarmac on arrivals. Less queuing as you drop/pick up your bag as soon as you board/de-board.

  6. I just don’t understand this concept. So, how am I gonna carry my laptop or even my mobile charger cables? Placing your carry-on under the seat infront of you makes no sense either. Your hand and your bag is gonna carry all those germs from the airplane carpet and heck, you can’t even stow a small trolley there. If the government is concerned about people overcrowding in the aisle for max 20 minutes, then they gotta take measures to prevent overcrowding in baggage carousels where passengers are gonna wait for their baggages for 1-2 hours!

  7. This is all within ICAO published best practice guidance that recommends overhead bin use be limited, while total cabin baggage be limited single item that can be stowed under a seat.

  8. Clearly I am not an expert.
    There is some sense in reducing that, ohso close crowding during boarding. I suspect that there might be less risks of contagion touching surfaces, the big risk is the closeness during boarding.

  9. From my experience in ground ops, I can say this is gonna be an absolute mess to implement and will therefore cause more harm than good. Already under normal rules, passengers have no idea (or don’t care) how much hand luggage they can bring.

    Most people use online check-in, so it will be up to the gate agents to enforce this rule, which is very time consuming and will cause similar congestion at the gate due to labeling bags, discussions etc., so if anything at all, they’re just moving the problem to a different area. Furthermore, transit pax will be an issue as no outstation will be able to control this. This leads to even more gate check-in and discussions.

    Last but not least, some bags that do not fit underneath the seats will slip through, and then the chaos starts. Add all the points that Lucky mentioned in his article to that.

    This is why governments should not put in place rules for industries they have no clue about, or at least don’t seem to know their processes. I don’t know how it went in this specific case, but they should try to agree on such processes with the carriers and / or local aviation authorities. Otherwise, this looks just like doing something for the sake of doing something.

  10. LCC could just have a free checked back up to carry-on size, and still charge for checked luggage that’s larger/heavier than a certain size/weight.

  11. So what are people supposed to do with the following items?

    Baby stroller
    Canes and crutches
    Heavy winter outer clothing
    Items they have purchased in the terminal
    Musical instruments
    Camera equipment
    Computers and other valuables

    All of those items, except for the clothing, are excluded from the airlines’ liability for lost checked baggage.

    Use electronic luggage trackers and make sure that you paid for at least part of your ticket with a credit card that has coverage for lost or delayed baggage that is more liberal than the airlines’ policies.

  12. I rather walk than fly Alitalia.

    Sad that we have this as a leading news.

    I rather see posts about how one can create an amazing round the world trip using miles.

    Or start a competition asking people to submit their best RTW mapping using miles or using $.

  13. There is a boogeyman in the overhead bins !!!!!!!
    There is a boogeyman in the overhead bins !!!!!!!
    There is a boogeyman in the overhead bins !!!!!!!
    There is a boogeyman in the overhead bins !!!!!!!
    There is a boogeyman in the overhead bins !!!!!!!

    A safety rule thought by an intelligence level of a 10 year old child deserves a reply that is understood by a 10 year old child.

  14. Would refuse to fly on any airline with that policy.
    Despite their cleaning, the overhead would logically be more sanitary than the floor under the seat where others had the bottoms of their shoes touch.
    And I normally travel with a single 17″ for short trips. Not checking luggage makes changing flights last minute so much easier.

  15. I’d be surprised if it catches on here because for the most part US Airlines do no care if you die as long as they have your money.Hence American no longer blocking middle seats etc

  16. Stupid and stinking rule. Laptops, Jewelery, valuables too important to check such as violins, CPAP machines STINKS.

  17. Cannot stop laughing. Smart marketing move to get pax to pay for checked bag. You always need a carry on for your stuff which you cannot check in. Underneath seat in front will not work for me, my legs are to long. Not kidding. So flights to Italië. SKIP

  18. What about musical instruments and medical equipment? There will be exceptions
    You can’t expect and rightly so , someone to check in a $4 million Stradivarius.
    I guess it’s a general rule with exceptions as this would only apply to one or two passengers

  19. It doesn’t reduce exposure, it just reduces their liability, since the extra exposure at the baggage claim is outside their sphere of responsibility. It DOES, however, improve safety in the event the plane has to be evacuated on the tarmac. People not grabbing for their carry-ons when the plane’s about to explode would be a net positive.

  20. In remember flying from the UK in August of 2006 after the foiled plot that led to a liquid ban: NO carry-on luggage allowed (not even a pen to fill in customs cards) only essential items to be placed in a clear plastic bag. Boarding of course was breeze, but this policy was relaxed soon after (I’m sure the duty free shops must have lobbied hard for this to be lifted). Much in the same way, I can’t see this carry-on ban in Italy live past the summer. And what will happen in the Fall/Winter, when everyone boards with a coat?

    Still, kudos to Italy for leveraging the pandemic to justify a crackdown in earnest with carry-on luggage abuse. For too long airlines have been paying lip service to their so-called ‘commitment’ at enforcing limits.

    This may lead to improved checked luggage processing (expedited delivery on the belt on arrival) And better crowd management at the luggage carrousel (How often do several flights share the same belt when another one is empty?)

    Of course I would be more confident of this carry-on strategy succeeding if this experiment were held in Japan… not in Italy!

  21. @Icarus

    I almost fell of my chair laughing. You know the funny irony about your post?

    While it is not a $4M Strad (yet), a few years ago Alitalia broke a 17th century viola da gamba.
    Yes they force the owner to check it.

  22. Other countries have had this for a long time (Singapore) as other airlines (Finnair, SAS). Italy is late but it’s gathering a lot of good press in Europe so the timing right before summer is ideal for them.

    And it makes total sense therefore the US will not roll it out. #toomuchwinning

  23. Love it. You appreciate the logic while at the same time believe it’s likely to create more exposure for most travelers, making the policy the opposite of logical if the goal is to reduce risk for the consumer. So clearly the “logic” has nothing to do with a logical outcome.

    I’ve traveled 365.25 days a year for the last 6 years with nothing but a carry-on. Including Italy for about 3 months in 6 trips. My point? I’ll fly to France or Switzerland or Slovenia or Croatia and take a train or boat to Italy before I let an airline hold all my worldly possessions with almost zero liability if they somehow get lost along the way.

    So my “touch points” will multiply 5 fold, increasing the risk to me and my fellow travelers.

    Unfortunately logic was the first casualty of the virus.

    Simple rules… Wear your mask indoors. Avoid crowds. Wash your hands. Remember nobody is an “expert” in uncharted waters. And always, always know that everything is temporary, good or bad including life itself. Act accordingly. Or don’t. Just keep your grubby paws off my carry on.

  24. While I agree that this policy may not help much and may even be counter-productive, I’m surprised that the response here is mostly about how lousy it will be to have to check a bag, rather than simply using a personal sized bag as your only luggage.

    Now, if you’re carrying a camera & multiple lenses & a tripod & extra shoes & business suits & a hair dryer & a yoga mat & so on it becomes untenable. But for trips where you’re basically carrying clothing + toiletries + possibly a laptop, it is supremely easy to only use a small backpack or duffel which can fit under the seat in front of you, without looking un-stylish, with some small sacrifices and adjustments. I distinctly prefer this method of travel over using a carry-on + personal item.

    I recommend,,,, for more.

  25. It appears there’s exception for bulkhead and exit rows. Also an airline can instead block middle seats instead.

  26. So everyone will just crowd for longer around a conveyor belt waiting for their luggage to be unloaded. Not to mention people will need to show up earlier at the airport to check in luggage than if they just had a carryon which is more time in the airport being exposed to people. This makes sooo much more sense and oh yes I want as many hands as possible touching my bags!

  27. Sheer idiocy.

    First, congregating in the aisle is basically the same as sitting in your seat. You’re inches away from the stranger next to you and maybe a couple feet from the stranger sitting in front of you and behind you (definitely less than the standard 6 feet).

    Then, when dropping your bags off, you’ll have to wait in a huge line full of people. And the terminals aren’t really big enough to have every single person standing 6 feet apart. So they’ll have to stand closer.

    And lastly, when it’s time to pick up your bags at baggage claim, it’ll be time to congregate again.

    Seriously, just sheer idiocy.

  28. @Eskimo @Ryan @Aaron totally agree. Regardless if it is ICAO, WHO, UN, etc. this rule has zero basis in the epidemiology of viruses. Stupid beyond words. God, we have so many mediocre and ignorant bureaucrats.

  29. @Tim

    You need to understand (lack of) Italian leadership skills.
    Silvio Berlusconi
    Benito Mussolini
    No Italians were the Secretary General of NATO for almost 50 years (minus a few temp acting roles)

    or to name a few more related to travel.
    Alitalia bankruptcies for so many times.
    Costa Concordia

  30. Yes, I’m in Round 10 with Emirates over this. We are underwater photographers headed to Maldives in Sep. We have at least 4 cameras and a crap ton on lithium battery operated equipment. We have carefully purchased carry on luggage to handle them

    Now Emirates says we cant carry on. What about all those lithium batteries? Oh, you cannot check them. Okay so I can have carry on. No, everything must be checked. So it’s okay to check lithium batteries? No, they must be carried on.

    The exchanges have been an exercise is sheer stupidity from Emirates. They seem to be clueless about how much equipment this involves.

    So we are going to show up with our regular carry on and make THEM figure it out.

  31. I can see some flights running into bulk out issues with that much luggage being put under the plane, and maybe even some weight issues.

  32. @Patti

    It’s not EKs fault. This was a not well thought out plan by the Italian government. They can only do what is legal. I expect within a week either this is ban is totally gone, or there’s a major expansion of exceptions.

    Is EK will to let you rebook via a different city?

  33. @Patti

    Don’t fly EK.

    You definitely cannot check that much battery, as I’m sure most regulator doesn’t allow it.
    You need to carry them on with you.
    For carry on, it is more about each carriers’ discretion. If EK doesn’t allow, it is up to them, you should fly with someone else.
    I don’t suggest you let THEM figure it out because it is those THEM who can deny you boarding not you. If logic made sense, EK wouldn’t be flying this many A380s.

  34. We are booked Emirates Air JFK thru Dubai to Maldives and back.

    THEY are the ones pulling the no carry on. I’ve given them the details of the multiple photography items we have with lithium batteries. It’s not just the loose batteries but the extensive number of underwater lights and strobes which have sealed batteries.

    One message says I can check them. The next message says they must be in carry on. We are talking no small number but as much as 10-12 lights with some weighing as much as a pound each. These are going in a purse.

    This is their own policy, no lithium in checked. Then no carry on. So exactly HOW are we supposed to get these items to the Maldives and back.

    And we are paying for 2 business class fares each way.

    I dont know who else I’d fly. We looked at Singapore Air but they jumped their price from $5k to $7I in one day.

  35. @Patti

    All airlines have banned Lithium ion batteries as checked bags. This in nearly, if not all cases by order of the regulatory authorities.

    Next, you’re not going through Italy according to your routing. There should be no issue with carry on if within weight limits.

  36. Yes, I am WELL aware of the lithium battery restrictions, been doing this for 15 years.

    And I wasn’t talking about Italy. AGAIN, I’m flying Emirates who is pulling the same thing about carry on. NO carry on except for laptop bag or purse.

  37. @Patti,

    Maybe if you had clearly stated this was about an EK specific ban we would’ve understood that. This is an article about an Italian ban. Most of us aren’t likely to even know EK has a carry on ban for all flights.

    Could a laptop backpack work? Laptops are allowed, and some use a laptop backpack instead of bag.

  38. Wayne Caffey. I stated it twice, in two separate posts, one at 10:30am and one at 3:04 pm. Whete I indicated I was sympathetic because I had a similar situation with Emirates.

    I’m hoping by Sept, Emirates will have come to their senses on carry on. Luggage multiple pounds of lights and batteries in a backpack not my ideal way to transport them safely.

    Plus I’m hoping some of Emirates higher end customers start to chew on them about this.

  39. isn’t overhead luggage an ancillary revenue already for ULCC? So what’s the difference? They will just charge you for the checked bags instead of carry-ons that go overhead.

  40. @Patti

    Don’t fly EK.
    They still have the final decision on your carry on, do you really want to risk denied boarding?
    If you’ve been doing this for 15 years, maybe stick with the same airline that allows you.
    I didn’t say it first but now I have to say it since you mention SQ as an alternative.
    When you travel with sophisticated items, don’t be cheap and pay up. Look at all those people who had $100k to priceless items destroyed by airlines.
    If you can afford all these expensive equipment (and expensive business class, and expensive island destination), you can afford to pay the premium. It’s just not worth the trouble.

    If you cannot afford it, something is really wrong with your lifestyle. 😉

  41. Just returned from 2 Southwest Airlines flights in California. Only 10 board at a time so very limited number of folks in isle. However … No Mention of Leaving the plane so way more ‘closeness’ during departure. Note, No middle seats used unless a party of 2.

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