No more carry on

Well the news that Alitalia is banning use of the overhead bins for flights into Italy is interesting and is sure to spread to other airlines. The reason of course is the enhanced safety protocols because of COVID. The thinking is that this will cut down the time that people spend standing in the aisle while everyone tries to fit oversized bags into the overhead bins. This makes perfect sense and the subject of carryon is one that can stir deep passions in people – either the carriers or the carry on haters.

The carriers say that they love the overhead bins and never check a suitcase. This is probably very true for business travellers who maybe only have one overnight and a day full of meetings. They want to be able to get on and get off with their bag and get the hell out of the airport and off to their meeting.

The carry on haters say that people bring too much onto a plane and it takes too long to board and too long to deplane. In addition there have been occasions when someone’s too heavy suitcase falls out of the overhead bin and bonks someone else on the head. Then we have our teeny tiny short person with a super heavy carry on bag. Now this usually tends to be a woman – because women are shorter than men usually – and being a short woman I can say this. Trying to get that heavy bag up into the overhead bin is hard if not impossible. Most carry on bags these days have handles and buckles and wheels – none of this is easy.

Whichever camp you fall into I can bet anything you have been irritated at least once in your travel life by either getting on the plane late and finding all the overhead bins full or getting to your designated seat in the front part of the plane only to find that some doofus has put his bag in your overhead bin while he toddles off to his seat at the back (which is why he was boarded first). The cheekiest of all overhead binners is of course the one who books economy but sticks his bag in the overhead bin in business class. Good try!

There are those who vow never to check a suitcase again after having lost one holding treasured possessions and favourite pj’s (never to be found again and probably auctioned off in a warehouse somewhere on the other side of the world). There are the others who like the flexibility of travelling with one small suitcase for their vacation (and wearing the same clothes every day for 3 weeks). I have done that before, and say that with pride. One carry on bag for three weeks holiday in Ireland. Shoes are the biggest problem because they are bulky but I did it nevertheless. Of course when I got home I immediately burnt the entire contents as I never wanted to see those clothes again.

It will be interesting to see which airlines follow suit. One thing I should point out is that as this overhead bin ban (wow that could be a hip hop song) was mandated by the Italian Government the airline is waiving its checked luggage fee. Now at least there is some silver lining!

By Lesley Keyter

Lesley Keyter is the face of travel in the fast growing city of Calgary. Every week since 1997 she has has featured live on the Morning News Global TV.


  1. I view this change with alarm – when I travel, I have to take my cpap machine with me. I would be very stressed at the idea of necessary delicate (and expensive) medical equipment being thrown around with regular luggage. Guess if this becomes widespread I won’t be flying.


  2. At least we hope the airlines would have some measure of compassion when it comes to medical equipment and medications. Personally I think the airlines that are banning or considering banning carry on luggage is going way too overboard. What ever happened to measuring and weighing the carryons??? Elementary I think. Would certainly stop the idiots that try to fit a 26” suitcase into the overhead bins.πŸ™„ But maybe that’s just too much effort for our poor airlines to mandate and enforce. Inconvenience the passengers but heaven forbid we ask the airlines to do more.


    1. Definitely there will be exceptions for medical equipment and medications will easily fit into a small bag under the seat. I think not having the line up for stowing your bag in the overhead bin will help a little with social distancing. I agree about the oversized carryon bags – we have all seen that and it is SO annoying. Bear in mind that it is just flights into Italy at this stage (Alitalia Airlines) and nothing yet from other airlines saying they will copy this rule.


  3. This would certainly change the way we travel to Europe. We use the Rick Steves method of travelling, only using carry on and 3 to 4 changes of clothes (and you are right we are sick of those outfits at the end). It is so freeing to be able to just leave the plane and head to customs right away. That all said, I would be thrilled to be able to fly safely in the future, however that looks!!


  4. We did three weeks in Europe one year – one week each in England, Belgium & Burgundy with one carry-on bag which I had checked. The point is that I was able to dress for all our occasions from that one bag. My husband bought a suit in France so wore that when we went out for a very special dinner at Bocuse in Lyon.


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