This week's decision by British Airways to add up to £240 to the cost of a return long-haul flight if passengers want to check in an extra bag has come under fire from consumer groups representing disabled people, as well as the elderly. Under the rules, an economy class passenger will have an allowance of 23 kilograms for luggage in the hold. That's fine. The only problem is that it all has to be in one bag. Divide your luggage between two bags - even if the total weight is well under that 23 kilo limit - and you'll be charged extra for the terrible crime of having a second bag: sixty quid one way on domestic journeys, a hundred and twenty one way on international flights. Blimey.
In a travel article in Wednesday's Guardian, Marcel Berlins carries a comment from one disabled traveller who hasn't the strength to carry a cumbersome 20 kilogram bag but who can, he says, cope with two lighter bags, thereby distributing the weight in a more balanced way (as medical professionals recommend).
But here's the real shocker:
"... the nonsensical, uncaring and unpleasant nature of the new rules can be seen in its full ingloriousness by studying the arrangements for passengers of a sporting disposition. They will be entitled to put heavy and bulky sporting equipment in the hold - for free. Golf clubs and skis are welcome, as are bicycles, scuba-diving equipment and even windsurfer sets; all of them are specified in the regulations. They, as well as the 23 kilo bag, get on board without charge. Meanwhile, an elderly or otherwise physically weak passenger with an identical ticket will pay heavily for having the cheek to need to travel with two light cases, and no sporting apparel. That small, second, eight kilo bag may cost its owner more than the flight itself."
So remember, the next time you're flying, that while your custom is valued, you may be ranked as somewhat less important than someone's set of golf clubs. Nice, eh?