Checked baggage: ANA compares poorly

Courtesy Reuters

Courtesy Reuters

IF you expect some flexibility in your checked baggage allowance, you may get it at some airports, but do not take your chance with All Nippon Airways (ANA).

A family of three travelled from Singapore to Vancouver via Tokyo (Haneda) on ANA, each with one piece of checked baggage. At Singapore, they were allowed a combined weight of up to 23 kg each. Returning from Vancouver, one bag was 2 kg above the 23 kg limit but they were not allowed to combine the weights of the three bags even though the other two bags were way below the individual bag`s limit. They were told to pay the excess fee, or get rid of stuff from the bag in question, or be prepared to be offloaded. All the bowing and words of apology from the Japanese supervisor could not convince them to ever again book on ANA. Besides, they had found out that compared with other airlines such as Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and Air Canada, they had a bad deal for the fare that they had paid in addition to the long stopover of five hours at Haneda Airport on the return leg.

Although there are published standards by universal conventions, air travellers are often confused by the varying practices even by the same airlines at different ports. A number of airlines, principally those operating from the United States, have moved away from the traditional complimentary free two-piece for economy to only one-piece and even none in the case of many domestic services. Charging for the second bag and excess weight has become a lucrative revenue source along with other ancillary services. There is also the confusion between the piece and weight concepts, and for travellers that switch airlines en route, the problem is compounded by different airline practices. “No problem” at a previous port does not guarantee the same concession at a latter port.

Then there is the industrial issue of baggage handlers at certain airports being protected by union regulations from lifting bags that exceed a certain weight, generally cut off at 32 kg. There have been instances of such bags being repatriated to the culprit station. Do not think that you can escape that clamp-down with self-check-in and bag drop; at Vancouver International Airport, for example, the weight is automatically read before the bag disappears down the chute and the handler is ever ready to take it off it is found to be overweight.

Except for travel to and from or within the United States which uses the piece concept, many airlines still practice the weight concept. The latter is more prevalent with airlines that operate to and from Asian destinations. At a time when competitor airlines such as SIA, Cathay and Malaysia Airlines are using generous baggage allowances to lure customers, ANA compares poorly. Compared to ANA’s only one piece up to 23 kg for economy, other airlines including Cathay, SIA., Air Canada, Qantas and home rival Japan Airlines allow two pieces up to 23 kg each on flights to North America.

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About Dingzi
Writer by passion, with professional expertise in aviation, customer service and creative writing. Aviation veteran, author, editor and management consultant. Besides commentary on business issues and life-interest topics, travel stories and book reviews, genres include fiction, poetry and plays. Nature lover who abhors cruelty of any form to animals, and a tireless traveler. Above all, a dreamer.

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