Your palms are sweaty and throat dry as you approach the gate. Then you hear that familiar collective groan. You do not need a tannoy announcement to be told – there is no more space in the overhead bins. Your bag will need to be checked.
You grab what you can in mild panic. Pringles, a neck pillow and that Booker Prize winner you have no intention of reading on the 6:20 am to La Palma.
The airline claims, with admirable deadpan, that this will enable travellers to “bring all the essentials for their journey or enough for a short trip.” In a world in which Waitrose sells reduced fat guacamole in its ‘Essentials’ range, this stretches credulity.
In typical public relations blather, the change has been marketed as an improvement for passengers. From a strict market perspective, it will lead to a more efficient allocation of resources.
Those prepared to pay for extra legroom seats, or easyJet Plus cardholders (me neither) will continue to have an additional large cabin bag included in their booking.
Those unwilling to upgrade will be restricted to cabin baggage with a maximum size of 45/36/20cm – roughly the size of a large handbag – which must fit under the seat in front .
Low cost air travel has long been an exercise in maintaining one’s dignity in the face of mild disrespect. This latest announcement is par for the course. A change to hand baggage restrictions does not, of course, alter the fundamental issue with flying – that it is a considerable and growing contributor to catastrophic climate change, largely driven by what is in global terms a tiny number of people for whom a change in baggage allowances is something to get angry about.
Perhaps it is time to check not just our bags but our privilege.