An international airline industry group is bagging – at least for now – a voluntary plan to reduce the size of overhead carry-on bags amid passenger complaints and threats of congressional action.
More than a week after introducing its smaller bag proposal, the International Air Transport Association said it’s "pausing" the rollout of the initiative. Under the IATA’s Cabin OK plan, the size of carry-on luggage would shrink to 21.5 inches tall by 13.5 inches wide by 7.5 inches deep
"While many welcomed the Cabin OK initiative, significant concerns were expressed in North America," said Tom Windmuller, IATA’s senior vice president for airport, passenger, cargo, and security. "Today we are pausing the rollout and launching a comprehensive reassessment of the Cabin OK program with plans to further engage program participants, the rest of our members, and other key stakeholders."
The IATA, which represents about 260 airlines that comprise 83 percent of global air traffic, said the idea of downsizing carry-on bags was designed to create more overhead bin space for passengers use.
But several congressional lawmakers wondered whether the idea was developed to prompt more passengers to check in luggage and pay bag fees instead of going out and buying new bags. They applauded the IATA’s pause.
"If adopted by airlines, this standard would have prevented Americans from using many carry-on bags currently in use," said Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., chair of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee. "This ill-conceived proposal created understandable frustration among the traveling public. The Senate Commerce Committee immediately indicated our intention to scrutinize any such change by U.S. carriers. Given the public outcry and concerns from lawmakers, IATA’s decision to pause and reassess is appropriate."
Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., who introduced a House of Representatives bill Tuesday to block airlines from shrinking carry-ons said "at a time when it seems that profits, not passengers, are the first consideration of airlines, this announcement is a victory for consumers."
"This was a transparent attempt to squeeze even more money out of passengers and I hope the industry’s ‘reassessment’ of the Cabin OK initiative results in them scrapping the plan completely," said Cohen, a member of the House Transportation Subcommittee on Aviation.