Airline Mistakenly Charges Thousands of Passengers for Luggage

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A finding in the UK is raising questions on how consumers can know the accuracy of devices airlines use to measure luggage before charging passengers baggage fees.

British budget carrier bmibaby admits it may have been mistakenly charging passengers for years because the cage-like devices it used to measure the size of carry-on luggage at departure gates were too small, reports the Daily Mail newspaper.

Passengers were asked to put their carry-on bags in the gauges before boarding planes, and routinely told their bags were too big for carry-on and needed to go as checked luggage instead, for a fee of about $46. But the cages were actually smaller than the dimensions the airline states on its website as acceptable for carry-on, the newspaper says.

The flaw was discovered by a British businessman who was angry after being charged for his luggage on a flight from the UK to Amsterdam, earlier this year. When he rechecked his bag he found it was well within the limit.

Thousands of passengers may have been similarly mischarged.

The carrier says it plans to change the 60 under-sized gauges it has at the 30 airports where it operates. It says gauges it uses at check-in are a different design than those at the departure gates.

British travel industry expert Rochelle Turner, head of research for Which? Holiday, says there's a lesson to be learned here.

"If airlines choose to charge passengers who exceed baggage allowances, they have an obligation to make sure their scales and gauges are accurate," she tells the Daily Mail. "We hope that those who have already been incorrectly charged are refunded, and promptly."





Photo, Terry Wha, flickr
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