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I won't touch your hand luggage, but he will...

I won't touch your hand luggage, but he will...

Old Jul 30, 12, 8:05 am
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Question I won't touch your hand luggage, but he will...

Until the other day I've only ever noticed passengers actually asking for cabin crew to lift their hand luggage up into the overheads in F. Perhaps this is because it happens more here due to people's sense of entitlement? I have certainly shared that cabin on many occasions with people who clearly have staff

The other week on BA16 the elderly occupant of 1A asked very nicely on both sectors back to LHR and the cabin crew obliged instantly and kindly without the slightest hesitation...

Just the other day on BA63 in WT+ it was a different story though.

Well before take off at LHR and before the cabin filled up to its roughly 70% occupancy, the (very short) woman in 12K asked a passing (very tall) crew member for help lifting her bag... the male crew member very dramatically told her (in the style of an exasperated primary school teacher who has already repeated the same thing ten times today) that he wasn't allowed to touch her bag and that it was all to avoid injuries to cabin crew. Trust me, it wasn't explained calmly or nicely! He then did a very elegant pirouette and disappeared back into WT.

Of course I knew about the no lifting rule from FT but had never thought about it as I have never (and hope never to have to) ask for help lifting myself... and I instantly forgot about what I had overheard above.

That is until 3 minutes before doors were closed on the 767 ready to push back for our departure from LHR.

WT had filled up to the brim and the old problem of far, far too much hand luggage (was it 767 capacity, African route or both?) was occurring. The very nice CSD who had been round for a chat during boarding was running around proactively grabbing WT luggage that had no home and putting it into the spaces in WT+... a couple of last-minute boarders were dealt with in that way too.

Of course it was Mr CSD himself doing all the lifting and shifting around until it all fit. He did it without the slightest complaint. He clearly saw that an on-time departure depended on him being efficient and sorting out the problem there and then ^

You may have thought that was the end of that, but it wasn't for short lady in 12K. She decided to call the CSD over and throw a loud and public hissy fit about why she had been so rudely denied any help when in fact the CSD had been quite happy to sort other people's bags out.

The CSD was very apologetic and explained that everybody had a different approach to this. Luckily the poor CSD was interrupted by the hi-vis turnaround man who needed a prompt signature before the doors were shut. The CSD then 'forgot' his promise to come back and chat to her after take-off

Now I don't know what you think about this, but it seems a little 'elf and safety gone mad' to insist on this outright ban on lifting when so many crew still do it. Surely, if you lift properly by bending your legs (having first tested the weight of the bag to make sure it is not ridiculous) then there need be no risk of injury at all? I have certainly never injured myself lifting my luggage and Lord knows I do it week in week out.

It's also not as if every passenger needed this help... only a few here and there isn't it?

Also, cabin crew with a genuine injury or back issue could just politely apologise to the passenger that they are not able to help rather than quoting the rule book as the crew member did to Madam 12K?

Last edited by HighLife; Jul 30, 12 at 8:29 am Reason: seat change...
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:14 am
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I've always been under the impression that cabin crew are not supposed to help with putting bags in the overhead lockers, BA's website mentions that you must be able to lift your bag unaided into the overhead lockers in the aircraft cabin
Back in March i flew while on crutches (fractured foot) and the cabin crew were most apologetic that they couldn't help me with putting my bag in the overhead fortunately it wasn't heavy
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:18 am
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I won't touch your hand luggage, but he will...

And the entire cabin full of passengers did not think to pop a bag up for her??? Instead of being horrified at the FC for not doing it for her, why not actually help out the old biddy
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:20 am
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Indeed the formal position is that either you should be capable of putting the hand luggage in the overhead compartment yourself, or under your seat, or check it in. Short people get disadvantaged in that respect, but tall people have other disadvantages. I am not terribly sympathetic to the lady concerned since there's not much difference between airlines these days, but I can see the inconsistency between staff members would grate on someone so affected.

I did pull my back quite badly helping some old dear once, who had an extraordinarily heavy bag with her (which she wheeled on board), so I as with the crew, "damned if you do, damned if you don't". People should have greater self reliance, but that's true all over the shop.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:22 am
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Isn't there a weight limit for hand baggage? I think that this should be enforced a bit better.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:22 am
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I have found most crew are full of common sense. While there may well be some 'rule' that they cannot help lift things into lockers, I would hope that most would help out the 'little old lady' or 'vertically challenged' person. It sounds like the crew member on your flight was rather stressed out. We all get like this from time to time, but if you are in a customer facing job I am afraid taking it out on a customer is not acceptable. He needs to get his act together.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:25 am
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Had this on a flight back from GRU in June, several people asked for help from CC only to be told they couldn't because of rules etc. there was no end of offers of help from other PAX to help get these bags into the overhead lockers. ^
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:28 am
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Originally Posted by Behindthecurtain View Post
And the entire cabin full of passengers did not think to pop a bag up for her??? Instead of being horrified at the FC for not doing it for her, why not actually help out the old biddy
I think another passenger did in the end. I was on the other side in 10A - which makes me think on reflection she was in 12K (I will edit my post)
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:30 am
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Originally Posted by srbrenna View Post
Isn't there a weight limit for hand baggage? I think that this should be enforced a bit better.
The limit is 23Kgs on the understanding that you must be able to lift the bag into the overhead locker by yourself. It seems pretty reasonable to me but I think a better (more human) approach from the crew would be to check the weight of the bag and if it is heavy then politely decline.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:35 am
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Didnt know there was any such rules - last time i flew BA the male cabin crew member was shifting bags around all over the place, mine included (which was pretty heavy i'll admit).
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:36 am
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Originally Posted by Steve_ZA View Post
The limit is 23Kgs on the understanding that you must be able to lift the bag into the overhead locker by yourself.
23kg for hand baggage?! <boggle> BA certainly are generous in that compared to other airlines... that's one fact I didn't know until today.
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Old Jul 30, 12, 8:39 am
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Originally Posted by HighLife View Post

Well before take off at LHR and before the cabin filled up to its roughly 70% occupancy, the (very short) woman in 12K asked a passing (very tall) crew member for help lifting her bag... the male crew member very dramatically told her (in the style of an exasperated primary school teacher who has already repeated the same thing ten times today) that he wasn't allowed to touch her bag and that it was all to avoid injuries to cabin crew. Trust me, it wasn't explained calmly or nicely! He then did a very elegant pirouette and disappeared back into WT.
I think I had this crew member on a flight the other month! Again she was a very elderly lady who couldn't put her bag in the locker - not because it was heavy, it was that she couldn't reach. He was quite rude to her and I put the bag up into the locker for her and took it down again.

I can understand all the 'elf and safety issues around this - but honestly - I just think some common sense needs to prevail when someone can't reach the locker!
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Old Jul 30, 12, 9:08 am
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It's not 23kg for hand baggage. That's for checked baggage. <<< EDIT I stand corrected. It *is* 23kg.

I don't have a problem with people being expected to manage their own luggage, albeit with some assistance from willing fellow passengers, but it is inconsistent to have this explained (albeit it nicely most of the time), but then sit and watch the CC hauling bags around the bins to ensure the plane is ready to leave.

Surely if it's a H&S issue, they should stand there and ask the owner of the bags concerned to stack them more efficiently?
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Old Jul 30, 12, 9:09 am
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Originally Posted by shorthauldad View Post
23kg for hand baggage?! <boggle> BA certainly are generous in that compared to other airlines... that's one fact I didn't know until today.
For adults and children the limit is 23kg but "you must be able to lift the bag into the overhead locker unaided"

For infants under 2 there is no limit however "they must be able to lift the bag into the overhead locker unaided" so I guess the limit is very low!!!
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Old Jul 30, 12, 9:09 am
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The problem is consistency. Customers have told British Airways that they want to see the same minimum level of service on every flight, because apparently we are consistently inconsistent. By laying down a simple service proposition such as being allowed "A 23kg (51lbs) maximum bag weight applies and you must be able to lift the bag unaided into the overhead lockers in the aircraft cabin", then customers should be aware of what they should pack to take onboard with them. That doesn't mean I'm not going to try and help with bags, but there's no way I'm lifting what (at best, depending on the vigilance of the ground staff) might weigh up to 23kgs. We are capable of lifting heavy things, we operate aircraft doors nearly every day and those carts are heavy as well, but everything to do with health and safety is about minimising risk, which is why requests of lifting customer baggage should be politely declined.

Experience over the last 23 years has usually shown that the smaller the little old lady, the heavier the bag. Common sense dictates that this isn't because she's selfish, just that she's probably got lots of medication, documents, books, knitting, a nice cardie to keep warm and probably lots of presents for children and grandchildren. Certainly if she's going abroad to see expat family members, there's probably some much-missed local delicacies in there as well. When my sister used to live in Greece, half of our bag was taken up seemed to be taken up by baked beans, but that's another story! It just takes lifting the wrong little old lady's bag and somebody's off work for months on end, in a lot of pain, with a loss of earnings and any form of lifestyle. There's only so much daytime television and a husband's cooking I think I'd be able to stomach.

Cabin crew are absolutely right to refuse to lift hand luggage into the lockers. What isn't right in any way, is if customers are refused this request rudely. A simple offer to help them to lift the bag with the customer (maybe by getting them to take items out the bag), to make room for the bag to slide up into the locker more easily, to see if there's space to wheel/lift the bag into a wardrobe, or to offer to check the bag if it can't be lifted, is exactly what should've been offered, and it seems that it wasn't on this flight. One of our brand behaviours is to find solutions, and this is exactly what the crew should be doing.
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