Ryanair has criticised the Government’s advice that ‘strongly encourages’ passengers to check in their luggage and not take hand baggage on board aircraft as part of a series of measures to stop the spread of coronavirus.
The Irish carrier says the guidance is an example of ‘more nonsensical advice’ from the Government and, instead, Ryanair recommends that passengers minimise checked in luggage, in favour of carrying one or two pieces of cabin bags.
New Department for Transport guidance says: “You are strongly encouraged to check in baggage to the aircraft hold and minimise any hand baggage.
“This will speed up boarding and disembarking, and minimise the risk of transmission.”
In a separate document the Government says airlines should use ‘communication and incentive policies’ to minimise hand luggage.
Ryanair says cabin bags are handled only by the passenger and therefore eliminate any risk of physical contact with other people. Ryanair sets a maximum of bags allowed into the cabin, which ensures that the boarding process speed is not affected.
By contrast, checked-in bags are handled by multiple different persons at check-in, in baggage holds and while being loaded on to and out of aircraft holds.
A Ryanair spokesperson said: “In attempting to minimise physical contact during the travel process, particularly on short haul flights, Ryanair recommends passengers to minimise checked in bags and, where possible, confine themselves to one or two carry-on bags (one large, one small for customers with Priority boarding) which minimises physical contact with other persons.
“The UK DfT should stop issuing rubbish advice to passengers about baggage and instead focus their efforts on scrapping the UK’s useless visitor quarantine which the UK Home Office now admit cannot be implemented, supervised or policed effectively.
“Ryanair is going back flying with 1,000 daily flights from 1 July. Recent bookings show how UK customers are largely ignoring this useless visitor quarantine as they book in their thousands to holiday destinations in July and August”.
The Government guidance also advises passengers to wear face coverings in airports, wash hands regularly after touching surfaces and remaining seated during flights, as much as possible.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s guidance is a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.
“The Government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.”
Airlines UK and Manchester Airports Group welcomed the guidelines.
Airlines UK chief executive Tim Alderslade said: “They demonstrate how airlines can apply targeted and multi-layered measures to ensure air travel is safe for customers and crew.
“The guidelines pave the way for the introduction of air bridges, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be getting clarity from government on when and how these will be established over the coming days.”
MAG chief strategy officer Tim Hawkins, said the guidance offers ‘clear information for us, our passengers and our airlines on the steps needed to create a safe travel experience’.
If the guidance is followed, it will financially benefit airlines that charge additional fees for putting luggage in the hold.
EasyJet charges between £6.99 and £34.99 for hold luggage up to 15kg, depending on route, flight and time of booking and up to £37.49 for hold luggage up to 23kg.
Ryanair charges between £10 and £25 for check-in baggage up to 10kg and up to £35 for 20kg.