CALGARY - WestJet plans to reduce how much its passengers carry on, a move the airline says will make its increasingly full Boeing 737s less crowded and help align its baggage rules with those of other airlines.
After April 4, travellers will only be allowed one piece of carry-on luggage and one personal item. The Calgary-based airline had previously allowed passengers to bring two carry-on items and a personal item.
Carry-on luggage includes items such as suitcases, backpacks or bags and must fit a specific sizing device before boarding.
The maximum size for the carry-on luggage is 21 inches by nine inches by 15 inches (53.3 by 22.8 by 38.1 centimetres) — about the same as the larger of two carry-ons allowed under the previous standards.
Personal items include smaller things such as small purses, laptop bags or child restraint devices. For parents travelling with infants, a diaper bag is also permitted over and above the carry-on allowance.
Items that don't fit the size requirements will have to be checked at the baggage counter before departure and picked up at a carousel after landing.
The changes were announced Tuesday as WestJet reported its February load factor — a measure of how full its planes were — rose to 86.1 per cent, up from 82.7 per cent in February 2012.
WestJet spokesman Robert Palmer says the airline has hit record load factors since last summer and there's no sign of a let up ahead.
"We're flying our aircraft fuller than we've ever flown them in our 17-year history, so there isn't always enough room," Palmer said.
"This will ensure that everybody has an equal and ample opportunity to get their items in the overhead bins."
In addition, WestJet wants to standardize the luggage rules to accommodate travellers who will transfer to the smaller Bombardier Q400 regional turboprop planes that will be flown by WestJet Encore.
"We're going to have one allowance for the two sizes of aircraft," Palmer said.
Similarly, WestJet said the new rules will also ease connections with about 30 other airlines.
"This baggage allowance of one carry-on bag plus one personal item is pretty much the world standard," Palmer said.
"To minimize confusion and make it more convenient for our guests, it just makes sense to use the same baggage allowance."
Related on HuffPost:
Back in 2010, American Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/02/08/american-airlines-to-char_n_454109.html" target="_hplink">started charging $8 for blankets</a>.
Ryanair Boarding Pass Fees
Songstress Lily Allen took to twitter to express anger over<a href="http://news.travel.aol.com/2011/06/06/lily-allen-twitter-ryanair-boarding-pass/" target="_hplink"> Ryanair's policy of charging passengers to print out their boarding passes</a>.
Spirit's Online Booking Fee
In November 2011, Spirit Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/14/spirit-airlines-raises-on_0_n_1093430.html" target="_hplink">raised its domestic "passenger usage fee" (aka online booking fee) from $8.99 to $16.99</a> each way.
Southwest Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/26/southwest-airlines-fees-fuel-costs_n_1381008.html" target="_hplink">raised its ticket prices by $4 to $10 to offset the high cost of jet fuel</a> in March 2012. Its subsidiary AirTran, plus United Airlines, Delta Air Lines, American Airlines, US Airways, Frontier Airlines and Virgin America followed suit.
Ryanair Emergency Row Fee
Ryanair found itself under investigation after <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/20/ryanair-in-hot-water-over_n_1366497.html" target="_hplink">instituting a 10 pound fee to sit in the emergency row</a>.
Allegiant Air's Carry-On Fee
In April 2012 the budget carrier announced a <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/02/allegiant-air-carry-on-fe_n_1397911.html" target="_hplink">$35 carry-on fee</a>.
Spirit's New Carry-On Fee
A month later, low-cost Spirit Airlines <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/02/spirit-airlines-carry-on-fee_n_1472508.html" target="_hplink">upped carry-on fees to as much as $100</a>.
Airlines Could Charge Extra For Seats Together
Late May 2012 saw airlines start to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/21/airline-charges-seats_n_1533866.html" target="_hplink">reserve more window and aisle seats for passengers willing to pay extra</a>. This would make it it harder for friends and family members to sit next to each other.<br /> <br /> Sen. Charles Schumer urged airlines to <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/27/chuck-schumer-airlines_n_1548794.html" target="_hplink">allow families with young children to sit together without paying extra</a>.
United's $100 Bag Fee
In June 2012, United <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/12/united-airlines-raises-international-bag-fee_n_1589223.html" target="_hplink">raised its fee for a second checked bag on trans-Atlantic flights to $100</a>. Delta had done the same a few months earlier.
Wizz Air's Carry-On Fee
Carry-on fees have finally hopped the pond. <a href="http://skift.com/2012/07/09/carry-on-bag-fee-spreading-wizz-air-charge-europe/" target="_hplink">European regional carrier Wizz Air instituted a 10 Euro (about $12) fee to use the overhead bins</a>. Bags that fit under the seats still fly free.
Credit Card Booking Fee
In August 2012, Airefarewatchdog called out <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/george-hobica/the-latest-airline-fee-credit-card_b_1829396.html">Allegiant Airlines for charging more to book flights via credit card</a>.
Southwest Airlines' Early Boarding Fee
<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/22/southwest-airlines-fees_n_2525443.html?utm_hp_ref=travel#slide=more232494">Southwest passengers can pay $40 to be one of the first 15 people on the plane</a>, as of January 2013.