Virgin Australia joins crackdown on cabin baggage as Australian airlines embrace a united front

Virgin Australia has announced it will be cracking down on domestic passengers carrying oversized carry-on baggage, effective from this week.

Following Qantas' lead from several weeks ago, passengers will now have their carry-on luggage weighed either at check-in or at the gate to ensure it complies with limits.

Those who exceed the seven-kilogram limit will have to check their bags into the cargo hold.

This means all passengers on Australian domestic flights will now face having their carry-on luggage weighed.

Virgin said the move comes after passenger complaints and the increasing risk to crew safety of heavy bags. Additionally, it has affected the airline's on-time performance as the crew spend time juggling oversized bags in overhead cabins.

"I doubt if more than a handful of passengers meet the published restrictions and excess and/or heavy baggage delays both boarding," one Virgin passenger commented.

A spokesperson for Virgin Australia insist that this is not a new policy, but rather embracing a unified, industry-wide approach to cabin safety.

Paul Woosnam, General Manager Ground Operations, said the airline industry was seeing an increasing number of passengers trying to bring "everything but the kitchen sink" on domestic flights.

Cabin crew have received an increasing number of serious injuries after assisting passengers finding space and lifting their heavy bags into the overhead compartments, forcing them to take time off work.

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"This is preventable if all passengers adhered to the baggage limits and guidelines, and from the customers we've spoken to, we know they're in favour of our renewed focus on cabin baggage," Mr Woosnam said.

Virgin also wanted to remind passengers that there will be no grace period over Christmas.

Last week, Stephen Moynihan, Qantas' Senior Manager of Corporate Communications, said the that airline's stricter enforcement of the rules would ensure all passengers have a "fair share" of cabin space.

"We know customers like the convenience of not having to check in luggage," Mr Moynihan said. "But we're getting feedback from regular flyers who say all customers need to be reminded about how much luggage they can take onboard."

Like Virgin, Qantas will not charge passengers to check in bags at the gate should they be found to weigh over the limit.

Qantas currently has the most generous limits of all the Australian airlines, allowing a combined limit of 14 kilograms over two bags.

Virgin Australia allows passengers to bring seven kilograms on the cabin, in addition to a laptop bag, handbag or a suit bag.

Budget airlines Tiger and Jetstar have a seven kilogram limit which can be split between a bag and another smaller item. Both airlines started to enforce strict carry-on limits in 2014.

Online check-in can be held partly accountable for the increasing number of people who try and get away with a few kilograms of extra carry-on luggage.

However, budget airlines such as Jetstar do give people a chance to check their weight and surrender their extra carry-on at check-in, or risk having their bags checked randomly at boarding.

One recent flier with Jetstar on the Sydney to Melbourne route opted not to check in her small amount of luggage, despite having a 20 kilogram allowance for checked luggage included as part of her fare as a Qantas Frequent Flyer.

The passenger was asked to weigh her bags at the gate - a wheelie bag, a laptop and a handbag - which turned out to be a combined amount of 10 kilograms.

Because she did not get her bags weighed or check her bags at the check-in counter, she was charged a flat rate of $60 for the three extra kilograms of carry-on, despite her fare including 20 kilograms of checked-in luggage.

She was not given the option to put her items into the cargo hold, as Qantas and Virgin will.

Jetstar gives you the option of adding an extra three kilograms of carry-on luggage during the online booking process.

See also: Qantas cracks down on cabin baggage

See also: Pack it in: how to travel with only carry-on luggage

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