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Luggage Restrictions in European Flights

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 10:50 AM
  #1
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Luggage Restrictions in European Flights

As stated in another thread, my friend and I will be traveling to Spain and England in June. The transatlantic flight is with a US Airline (Delta) but when we are in Spain we will probably take Iberia Express round trip Madrid to Santiago de Compostela and back. And between Madrid and London we are booked on KLM through Amsterdam (switch planes in Amsterdam).

My questions here have to do with luggage and what to expect.

1. My favorite carry-on roll-aboard bag does not fit under any airplane seat, but it is just at the KLM limit of 55 x 25 x 35 cm. (Counting wheels and handle it measures 54 x 20 x 33 --107 total). Iberia's stated limits are a tad more generous (dimensions: 55x40x20 ) but they warn that for small regional flights the cabin luggage may have to be checked. It is not clear to me if this is the ordinary "gate check" I am used to from the US or if I will incur additional fees, a complicated procedure to retrieve my luggage or anything else that might make me want to avoid gate-checking. Can anyone tell me what "gate checking" is like in Europe?

2. I have not been able to find any specific dimensions for the "personal item" allowed by both airlines in carry-on, though I am aware that the airlines will weigh the personal items along with the carry-on. Can someone give me an idea of what sorts of things would/wouldn't be permitted as "personal items"?

3. I have back problems and usually travel with a special pillow. On US flights I have never had any objection to my bringing it in addition to my carry on. It spends the whole flight behind my back and thus takes up less space than a coat. However, I have heard horror stories about draconian rules on EU flights which would force me to make space for my pillow in my luggage. Should I worry?

4. Regarding checked luggage, can anyone recommend a good, lightweight, not too expensive 24 in bag?

Thanks in advance.

F
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 11:52 AM
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I have previously posted tin one of your threads about KLMs luggage requirement.
Here is Iberia Express:
http://www.iberiaexpress.com/en/baggage/
I cannot see where it states "small regional flights the cabin luggage may have to be checked"
If you take or try to take on more than on any airline you can either be expected to repack or pay the extra charges they see fit to charge. Any hand luggage that break the rules will normally be stored in the hold. That again will involve an extra charge.
Here is a list of items that you cannot carry onto aircraft within Europe.
http://europa.eu/youreurope/citizens...y/index_en.htm
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 12:09 PM
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Now KLM are going to charge for hold luggage on European flights they are stepping up controls on hand luggage too. Anything which they deem to big/heavy will be gate checked and you will pay for it. They have machines at the gate for payment.

Personal item means: a laptop bag, a small handbag, or a small camera bag. It doesn't mean another backpack/holdall/handbag-the-size-of-Miami. They are also going to be checking on those.

All airlines state very clearly what they allow as carry-on, and what they consider to be a personal item, if they even allow an extra item of carry-on. They also state what they will charge you for checking anything deemed unsuitable as carry-on.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 12:46 PM
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If you must take your pillow on board, then invest in a space bag to compress its size so it fits inside your small carry-on. Once on the plane you can remove it from the space bag and it returns to full size.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:37 PM
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Thanks for your replies.

Regarding the "personal item," naturally I know they don't mean something the same size as the carry-on. I guess the question is what they mean by "small handbag." There don't seem to be any specific dimensions stated anywhere. I will assume that since they also allow diaper bags and briefcases in this category then a purse that is roughly the size of these items is acceptable.

Regarding the possibility of gate-checking on "regional" airlines, I asked because of the following:

From the KLM Website

"Flights operated by KLM Cityhopper and KLM Boeing 737 aircraft have limited storage space in the cabin, and so we may ask you to put your hand baggage in the hold."

http://www.klm.com/travel/us_en/prep...gage/index.htm


FROM THE IBERIA SITE:

"[The carry on bag] must fit in the closed overhead lockers installed for this purpose, or below the passenger’s seat . . . If your baggage is over size it will be taken from you at the boarding gate."

http://www.iberiaexpress.com/en/baggage/hand-luggage/

Putting these two together, I assumed that the "closed overhead lockers" could be (as they are in regional airplanes in the US) smaller than the allowed measurements and that, just as in the US, the regional planes would perhaps not let me bring my favorite carry on into the cabin. In the US, that is a "gate check" and it doesn't cost anything extra or cause any extra trouble beyond having to wait for the gate-checked luggage before going on to the next stage of travel.

My question is whether "ask you to put your hand baggage in the hold" is the same as US-style gate-checking or if it is a procedure that requires returning to the luggage check area, additional fees, etc.

Does anyone know?

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:49 PM
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In my experience if they ask you to put luggage in the hold due to small overhead bins you just take the hand luggage to the plane and place it on a rack, then they put it into the hold. You retrieve it from the same racks as you exit the plane at the end of your journey.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:51 PM
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Re my pillow:

It does not compress in any significant way, even when I've used those vacuum bags. It is a special pillow with support for my back.

If I take it in carry-on, not only would it take up 1/4 of my bag but I would be slowing people down after I entered the plane while I rushed to get it out of my bag before placing the bag on the overhead compartment.

The sites I have seen do not indicate if things like this could be allowed with a medical statement of some sort, but I could definitely get a note from my MD if that would make a difference. (As I said, the pillow doesn't weigh much and it doesn't take up any space that my body isn't already going to be occupying.)

Thanks for the feedback.

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:55 PM
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RE: "In my experience if they ask you to put luggage in the hold due to small overhead bins you just take the hand luggage to the plane and place it on a rack, then they put it into the hold. You retrieve it from the same racks as you exit the plane at the end of your journey."

Thanks Jamikins. That is what we call "gate check" in the US and what I was hoping to hear.

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Feb 23rd, 2013, 01:57 PM
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If your hand luggage meets the airlines' size restrictions and if you have to gate-check it due to limited space in the cabin, there should not be a charge.

Doubt you would have to return to check in desks.

I assume it's similar to flights where you walk across the tarmac, hand your luggage to a baggage person, climb steps to the plane and do the reverse as you get off. Or, hand luggage is delivered to the ramp if you debark that way.

PIA, but I've never had tp pay.

Of course, anything is possible these days.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:11 PM
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If you can't compress the pillow, it will be considered either your personal item (if it is small enough) or your carry on. IME you definitely would not be allowed a carry on, a personal item, AND a pillow.
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Feb 23rd, 2013, 05:59 PM
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You don't get a 3rd item - even a pillow. Either it has to fit in you carry-on (and perhaps be gate-chceked) - just as in the US. Or it has to fit inside your personal item (a small handbag, briefacase or computer bag).

In my experience european airlines do not allow the 22: plus wheels and handle that US airlines do. They typically want 19:INCLUDING wheels and handle - since many of the planes have smaller overhead bins. I have been on flights back to the US when many passengers with the std 22" US sized bag all had to gate check them - yes - 20 or 30 people while I ws waiting to board and I'm sure more overall.

I would make sure everything you have is well within the size allowed - and not try to take anything extra on with you - such as a large coat with a bunch of pockets or a special pillow.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 09:04 PM
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Thanks for all the feedback.

I am disappointed to hear that even a special back pillow made necessary by back problems (which can be documented by an MD) would probably not be allowed, but it is best to prepare in advance.

What I'll probably do is carry it aboard as an extra item on the Delta flights (to and from US) where I don't expect any trouble, and put it in checked baggage when traveling in Europe. (It's the long flights when I absolutely need it anyway.)

I haven't carried a "std 22" US sized bag" in at least 10 years. My bag is less than 20 inches (and, as stated above, satisfies the KLM and Iberia requirements). Even so, it does not fit under the seat (that would be around 16 inches) and I've had to gate check it many times.

Though its more convenient to have the bag with me for the whole flight, gate checking is all right so long as I don't have to pay extra or walk back to the ticket counter or something at the last minute. You have all reassured me. Thanks.


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Feb 24th, 2013, 09:10 PM
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>>would probably not be allowed<< Sure it is allowed - just not w/ TWO other items.
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Feb 24th, 2013, 11:41 PM
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The usual procedure with hand luggage on small regional planes like a Canadair jet or KLM's small Fokkers would be "gangway check-in". (as jamikins explained)
So you take your luggage to the plane (usually by bus as those small aircrafts often can't use the jetways) and leave it there in a baggage cart right next to the gangway.
At your destination, all that hand luggage will be taken out of hold before pax are allowed to deplane. And at the bottom of the gangway you will find the same type of baggage cart to pick-up your hand luggage.
There is no charge.

If there is no dedicated "gangway check-in" but you find no space to accomodate your "legally sized" hand luggage in the cabin, e.g. cause the flight is fully booked, it will be brought from the aircraft cabin down to the hold (not by you but by a baggage handler).
In this case, you will need to pick it up again at the regular baggage claims carousel at your destination.
Again, no charge for this procedure as long as your cabin luggage was within the limits (size, weight, number/type of pieces).

If you are unsure about your pillow, it would be best to address the airlines' customer relations desk by mail and get clarification from them. Check-in personnel or FAs have no medical expertise to assess whether you need that pillow or just want to feel comfy so in a worst-case szenario they would have to play by the airlines' rules.
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Feb 28th, 2013, 07:27 PM
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I think there is a difference between a pillow that you use for your back and ordinary carry on objects. A back pillow is more in the category of children's car seats that get carried on board so the child will sit in it during the flight. Like the child's car seat, the pillow takes no extra space or time to stow--and unlike the car seat the weight of the pillow is minimal.

Be that as it may, I gather that it is the consensus of this group that according to European carry on regulations, it would not be allowed in addition to the regular carry on. That is what I wanted to know.

I may check with customer service at KLM and Iberia to see if there is some way I can get permission to carry my pillow on board in addition to the allowed carry on luggage. Good idea.
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Mar 1st, 2013, 10:56 AM
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A letter from your MD doesn;t make the plane any bigger. If you bring on extra stuff then other people don;t get to bring their one carry-on. It's a simple matter of space per passenger.

If the back problem is so bad and the pillow so importnat then pay extra, fly first and you can bring what you want.
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Mar 1st, 2013, 11:11 AM
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I have never seen a child's car seat inside a cabin.
Children's car seats and buggies go into the hold.
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Mar 1st, 2013, 11:33 AM
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I have been flying with back and neck pillows for more than 10 years. What I carry evolved as I found more compact and lighter ways to do the same thing. At the beginning, I carried "std" orthopedic pillows. I quickly figured out that it took too much carry-on space. I then switched to memory foam based products. They were more compressible, but still took too much space. I then looked at the memory foam and realized that about half of the bulk was not essential and could be supplemented by normal pillows, so I opened the pillow and cut off about half of the material. After flying several more years, I realize even these pillows still took too much of the carry-on capacity. I now fly only with inflatable pillows. They are not as comfortable as the memory foam pillows, but take only a fraction of the space and weight when deflated. In case of inflatable products, the geometry is very important as they don't form around the back and the neck like memory foam products. I have probably gone through pretty much everything the market has to offer and settled on a few products that are "acceptable" substitutes for memory foam pillows. With inflatable pillows, I need to make sure to depressurize the pillows as the cabin pressure decreases to prevent bursting the pillows which would probably scare the fellow passengers
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Mar 1st, 2013, 11:34 AM
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The child's car seat can often be used in the seat the child is occupying - since regular seat belts don't work for small kids. But - it's part of the seat for child safety - not an extra item brought onboard.
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Apr 7th, 2013, 07:57 PM
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Re "the child seat can . . . be used in the seat the child is occupying...it's part of the seat . .. not an extra item brought on board."

Yes it is an extra item brought on board. It does not count as carry on luggage if the child sits om it... at least it didn't when my kids were small and more recently when my daughter's best friend came home with baby for Easter. But these were US airlines.

I sit against the back cushion for the whole trip, so it would be part of my seat.

I have never had anu problem with it in the US. I explain that it's for my back and won't take up carryon space and I am waived through.

I can accept that European airlines might be more "by the book" but I don't understand why people on this forum can't see the difference between a piece of luggage that will impinge on other people's space and a cushion that is needed for a bad back and which would hurt no one if allowed.


I think it is possible for something to be reasonable and still not allowed.
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