Domestic flights limit carry-on size to keep schedules flowing

by Kazuaki Nagata

Japanese airlines on Tuesday will start enforcing size restrictions on domestic flight carry-on luggage in an effort to minimize delays caused by trying to stow items that are too big.

The overall dimension for carry-on baggage on aircraft that can seat 100 or more passengers must not exceed 55 cm by 40 cm by 25 cm.

For aircraft that seat 100 or fewer passengers, the dimensions must measure no more than 45 cm by 35 cm by 20 cm.

Carry-on luggage that can be stowed, limited to one item per passenger, will be measured at security checkpoints. Items exceeding the limits will have to be checked in. If passengers want to carry on an oversize item, they will have to pay a fee to secure space for the luggage in the passenger cabin.

In the case of All Nippon Airways, it costs some ¥10,000 to carry on an oversize item that can be placed on a vacant seat.

The Tokyo-based Scheduled Airlines Association of Japan reported there were 4,800 cases in which flights were delayed due to carry-on baggage problems in the 2008 business year.

“Unifying the size will hopefully reduce flight delays and clarify the size limits for customers,” association official Toshiya Shimada said.

“Previously, carry-on luggage limits varied by carrier. There were cases in which passengers (using different airlines for a round trip) could carry on items on the outbound trip but could not do so when returning home,” he said.

Also depending on the situation, existing rules were not strictly enforced, such as when flights had many empty seats.

Kojiro Waki, a spokesman for Japan Airlines Corp., said the unified limits will benefit both customers and the airlines.

“It will make it easier for customers (to know the limits),” Waki said, adding it will also improve punctuality and flight safety, as airlines will make efforts to enforce the new rules.

The new regulation may have a significant impact on some travelers, particularly musicians.

Takeshi Shinohara, a representative of the Musicians’ Unions of Japan, said the new rule will pose a problem for travelers seeking to carry on a violin or viola.

Previous limits weren’t strictly enforced, and employees at the gates and cabin crew members were allowed some discretion.

In most cases, violins were allowed to be carried on, Shinohara said.

If the unified rule is strictly applied, violins or violas will have to be checked in or not taken, unless the fee is paid.

“We don’t feel comfortable checking instruments into the cargo hold,” Shinohara said, noting musicians worry their instruments could be damaged.

Security eased

NARITA , Chiba Pref. (Kyodo) The operator of Narita International Airport plans to remove the security checkpoints at the railway stations located within its premises amid calls for the airport to be more user-friendly.

Part of the first full-scale security system review since the airport opened in 1978, officials of Narita International Airport Corp. said Sunday the company is also considering easing the security checks being conducted at the airport’s entry gates for vehicles.