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Airline passengers advised to check in all luggage

By Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent

Airline passengers are being “strongly encouraged” not to take any hand luggage on flights as part of measures to slow the spread of Covid-19.

Travellers should check in all baggage before boarding flights, according to new Department for Transport (DfT) guidance.

The Government urged airlines – which generally charge additional fees for putting luggage in the hold – to use “incentive policies” to minimise hand baggage.

Checking in a 15kg bag for an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Glasgow on Monday costs an additional £23.99.

British Airways is charging £25 for putting a 23kg bag in the hold for passengers with the cheapest fare on a flight from Heathrow to the same destination on the same date.

The DfT guidance states: “You are strongly encouraged to check in baggage to the aircraft hold and minimise any hand baggage.

“This will speed up boarding and disembarking, and minimise the risk of transmission.”

Other advice for passengers includes wearing face coverings in airports and remaining seated as much as possible during flights.

Airlines are being encouraged to extensively clean aircraft, increase the availability of hand-washing and hand sanitiser, and reduce face-to-face interactions between staff and passengers.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Today’s guidance is a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector.

“The Government’s advice currently remains to avoid all non-essential travel, but today we are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.”

Tim Alderslade, chief executive of Airlines UK, which represents UK-registered carriers, said its members welcomed the new guidelines.

“They demonstrate how airlines can apply targeted and multi-layered measures to ensure air travel is safe for customers and crew.

“The guidelines pave the way for the introduction of air bridges, and there is no reason we shouldn’t be getting clarity from Government on when and how these will be established over the coming days.”

Tim Hawkins, chief strategy officer at Manchester Airports Group, which owns and operates Manchester, London Stansted and East Midlands airports, said the guidance offers “clear information for us, our passengers and our airlines on the steps needed to create a safe travel experience”.

He added: “The guidance is the result of strong collaboration between Government and the aviation industry, drawing on advice from independent medical and scientific experts who have looked specifically at what safety measures are needed at each stage of the travel process.

“With similar protocols being adopted in other countries, and a targeted approach to reopening travel to low-risk countries, we will have the elements in place to get our economy moving again and protect jobs throughout the whole aviation supply chain.”