DISASTER! Aer Lingus change their hand baggage guidelinesSunday, 26 August 2012
IMPORTANT! This post was originally published in 2012. The baggage allowances have since changed for Aer Lingus, and you can now take a laptop, small handbag, duty free bag or baby changing bag with you. You can see more about the allowances, including tips for packing well and getting the most out of your hand luggage, in my post here (which I will always update according to the latest changes).
A couple of hours ago, I was coming through Gatwick Airport on my way back to Knock. I got to the gate, started to walk through and then, to my horror, heard the lovely man at the desk say
"Can you just pop your bag on the scales for me?"
Shit. First off, that mother weighed a ton. No way was I going to 'pop' it anywhere. Hurl it maybe... heave it perhaps. But popping was a sure challenge.
I was busted.
As I've written before, I always fly with hand luggage. And one of the many reasons I prefer to fly with Aer Lingus is their hand baggage guidelines. While they have the same size and weight limitations as Ryanair, they allow a laptop to be carried separately.
Unfortunately for me, this has just changed. Now, like most other airlines, Aer Lingus require any laptops to be placed in the main bag.
As my laptop weighs around 9.5kg (or in reality, 3kg), this is a DISASTER.
I have to admit, I found out about their change in guidelines a few days ago. But what was I supposed to do about it? I couldn't dump half my stuff out of my bag, and I wasn't about to pay to check a bag in. So I did what I always do - tried my hardest to wing it.
Aer Lingus do still allow a small ladies handbag to be carried in addition to the main bag. So that was one weight that could come out. I hid it behind my back a little, in the hope that would fool those in charge.
As I walked to the weighing scales, my emergency plan flashed into my head.
"It's OK" I thought to myself. "I'll just put on all of the clothes I have packed in the case. We've been ready for this moment for five years. Everything's going to be OK."
But the reality of dressing like a Buckaroo didn't seem as practical when I saw everyone in the queue. I didn't WANT to dress like an idiot in front of everybody there. I just didn't.
I put my bag on the scales, and my stomach lurched as I saw the number hit 12.9kg. Oops.
It was my laptop! My effing laptop. If it wasn't for that, my bag would have been fine. All of my excuses flooded to mind as I tried to figure out in which order I should put my clothes on. There was a big poofy dress that would cause a problem... I'd have to just put it on without zipping it up. And the shoes.... is there any you can wear shoes without having them on your feet? I was overcome with decisions.
Turns out I shouldn't have worried. The stewardess just took my bag off to one side, put a tag on it and put it into the hold. No fees, no lectures, no standoff. I wasn't even told off!
If this was Ryanair, I would have been marched back through departures to be made an example of. Michael O'Leary would have come out personally to punch me in the face, before demanding an excess baggage fee of €3,792.
But none of this happened. There was just a sensible solution to the problem.
Now, I wouldn't recommend you try this. My guess is that as the regulations have changed so recently, there's a bit of leeway. But as the situation stands, they would be within their rights to charge you the full amount to check your bag. I'm not saying that's right, but that's what could happen.
There's no escaping it any more. All airlines are weighing and measuring hand luggage. It's a bugger, that's for sure, but ignorance can't always get you through. So check it out before you fly, and make sure you stick to it.