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What happens to unused baggage allowance?

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What happens to unused baggage allowance?

Old 15th Dec 2014, 07:45
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What happens to unused baggage allowance?

Hi,
I am interning at a consulting/research firm and I have been asked to research on passenger baggage allowance in commercial aviation.

In real world not all pax will have checked-in baggage (and some may have more than allowance). I would like to know how this baggage allowance is forecast, used and dispensed with.

Specifically:

1) What airlines do with unused baggage allowance assigned to passengers? For example, if only 100 out 150 pax used their 20 kg baggage allowance and the rest did not use it (did not check in any baggage). What do airlines do with the unutilized weight? Do they load more freight matching the unutilized weight?

2) How do airlines predict/forecast passenger baggage allowance utilization?

3) Are there any data available on the average baggage allowance usage numbers - on avg how many pax use their
baggage allowance (fully /partially)?

Your expert opinion and help would be greatly appreciated.
martinyt is offline  
Old 15th Dec 2014, 11:52
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I'd guess that the answers to all 3 questions would be considered commercially sensitive by most, if not all airlines.

Good luck with your research, nevertheless.
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Old 15th Dec 2014, 12:04
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1) What airlines do with unused baggage allowance assigned to passengers? For example, if only 100 out 150 pax used their 20 kg baggage allowance and the rest did not use it (did not check in any baggage). What do airlines do with the unutilized weight? Do they load more freight matching the unutilized weight?
for practical/logistic reasons they would be unlikely to load more freight as passenger baggage is more or less last on, and it's done at the gate from which the aircraft departs. Loading freight would cause a delay.
2) How do airlines predict/forecast passenger baggage allowance utilization?
Based on past statistics, they know that on a given route and given day, there will be 'x' passengers of 'y' weight and on average each will carry 'z' kilos of baggage. Forecasting is never an exact science.
As passengers check in, the weight of their baggage finds its way through the DCS onto the loadsheet which is important for correct balance and trim, it is safety critical. That is one of several reasons why, if a passenger turns up with a 30 kilo suitcase, the check in agent can't register it as 20 kilos. If they did that for every passenger on a 150 seat aircraft, there would be 1.5 tonnes of additional weight on board that would not be reflected on the load sheet and that the cockpit crew would not know about.
3) Are there any data available on the average baggage allowance usage numbers - on avg how many pax use their
baggage allowance (fully /partially)?
Yes, but as stated earlier, it is commercially sensitive and I doubt if it exists in the public domain.
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Old 15th Dec 2014, 12:36
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Cool

do airlines use actual bag weight? I know someone we handle doesn't, they use a set weight, x bags X 18kgs.
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Old 15th Dec 2014, 13:01
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Reversing the question, it is not uncommon for freight to be offloaded because of baggage.
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Old 15th Dec 2014, 16:16
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We used to use a set standard weight for baggage unless there were payload issues where the individual weights would be requested for the loadsheet.
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Old 16th Dec 2014, 07:18
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I'm just speculating but there would be an assumption about the average weight that each passenger would want carried as luggage and also the average weight of each passenger.

You could only make a profit from the unused carrying capacity if you weighed the people too (I suspect passengers would object), then stopped them from buying heavy stuff between weigh-in in and boarding.
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Old 16th Dec 2014, 11:09
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What concerns me is the amount of 'cabin luggage' that goes apparently unweighed. I recall one particular BA flight from EWR to LHR where the cabin was absolutely rammed with trolley cases and the like. Many passengers had considerably more than one piece of hand luggage - that airline didn't appear to enforce its own hand luggage policy.
I would've thought this was a potential safety issue.
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Old 16th Dec 2014, 19:30
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A senior airline exec has mentioned to me he is only waiting for the day they have a hard landing, a number of bins open and there are widespread pax injuries. Cue direct compensation, tonnes of bad PR and possible regulatory issues.
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Old 16th Dec 2014, 20:15
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Indeed Angry Rebel. Until people are hurt -nothing will change. Since each pax will state (= shout in court) they they were hurt by someone ELSE's bag and that THEIR bag was within weight and size limits ...

Since any overweight, or extra, bag that is on the aircraft is there because airline staff permitted it - they will have a hard time saying it's not their fault. The airlines will, of course, try to say it's not their fault and it was a one off blah blah.
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Old 17th Dec 2014, 07:50
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A senior airline exec has mentioned to me he is only waiting for the day they have a hard landing, a number of bins open and there are widespread pax injuries. Cue direct compensation, tonnes of bad PR and possible regulatory issues.
I would have thought that, given the sheer number of landings that have ever taken place, if it hasn't happened by now, it's an unlikely scenario. Murphy will doubtless be along shortly, law in tow, to prove me wrong. More likely someone is going to get their case down from a bin, bounce it off another passenger's head and break their neck.
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Old 17th Dec 2014, 23:35
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Red face You mean it isn't obvious?

My unused baggage allowance is used by my partner to buy more shoes, candles, clothes, crap until we are 4 kilos over.
What a stupid question!
I jest...
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 11:15
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The baggage allowance is indeed just a maximum allowance, and charging for amounts beyond this is a combination of a commercial consideration, and a mechanism to ensure that the average baggage weights per passenger used in calculations are pretty much adhered to. Anyone who has travelled in Asia, where maximum allowances are treated very casually, will have seen some with huge amounts; western carriers often have different and enlarged allowances on Asian flights, for competitive reasons (the Gulf carriers developed their market considerably by allowing substantial baggage weights).

Those of us who have departed Los Angeles for London or New York may well have seen the Hollywood Divas at the First Class counter checking in about 10 cases, maybe including three hatboxes, and the revenue manager looking very pleased .....

The averaging technique used to assess baggage weight is well used throughout aviation, assessing the average number of no-shows so you can overbook and still be OK is another. Different carriers have different approaches, and the best practice ones will do periodic spot audits with a weighing machine to ensure they are appropriate. Averaging of carry-on weight is done the same way.

Baggage weight is just a small proportion of passenger weight + baggage weight, and passengers weigh very variable amounts themselves of course; this is subject to another averaging technique. Some use different average weights for men, women and children, as that split is readily available from the reservations. Other carriers use different average weights between summer and winter, when passengers come on with different quantities of outdoor clothing.
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 12:03
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Most airlines flight plan on average standard weights for bags and pax. It would be too late once actual weights are in to run a flight plan and fuel up accordingly. If the TOW is lighter than planned the company gains on a lower fuel burn. If a pax turns up with overweight baggage they are charged extra. The average baggage weight is probably still the standard so the company gains again from the extra charges. It's the name of the game

This is why all airlines should weigh pax and there should be excess charges. Why should I pay for the fuel to transport the big fat blob next to me (not Mrs Exascot ) when I am well below the average weight?
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 12:19
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Why should I pay for the fuel to transport the big fat blob next to me (not Mrs Exascot ) when I am well below the average weight?
And that would mean children pay considerably less than an average adult. That's why it will never happen.
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 12:33
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Pax weights are regularly checked and averages upgraded. Some years ago during one of my regular trips to South Africa, I was asked if I could be weighed for a domestic sector. I agreed.

SAA collected the data for themselves but, of course, could then sell it on to other airlines. They would know my age from the booking details and could categorise my weight accordingly.
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 15:12
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There was a crash of a turboprop several years back that was attributed to the aircraft being way overweight (and out of CG limits) because they used 50 year old average values for passenger and baggage weight. The average values were updated as a result of that crash, and those numbers are now periodically reviewed and updated.

BTW, many years ago I arrived at my destination for a ski trip and was one of about 20 people whose baggage hadn't been loaded because they otherwise would have been overweight (737-200). Tough to go skiing without gear
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 15:30
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Originally Posted by tdracer View Post
There was a crash of a turboprop several years back that was attributed to the aircraft being way overweight (and out of CG limits) because they used 50 year old average values for passenger and baggage weight.
If I am not mistaken this is a reference to a Beech 1900 accident in the US, which was certainly suspected of this being the case, they had a muscular sports team all sat at the back, but was later traced to other factors.

Believe it or not, back in the pioneer 1920s days of aviation passengers were weighed and the fare covered passenger AND baggage up to a given weight, thereupon a surcharge. Jack Bamford, the Air France station manager in London from the 1920s to the 1960s, describes the process in his autobiography. The dial of the scales only faced the agent, not the passengers, to preserve ladies' modesty.



BTW, many years ago I arrived at my destination for a ski trip and was one of about 20 people whose baggage hadn't been loaded because they otherwise would have been overweight (737-200). Tough to go skiing without gear
This sort of nonsense really should be regarded as much of failure as denied boarding of the passenger, and should be reportable to the CAA. It is often concealed by pretending the baggage has been mishandled, when in practice it has been deliberately left off to prevent the costs of a fuel stop en-route. Tough.
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Old 18th Dec 2014, 16:59
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Originally posted by WHBM
Believe it or not, back in the pioneer 1920s days of aviation passengers were weighed and the fare covered passenger AND baggage up to a given weight, thereupon a surcharge. Jack Bamford, the Air France station manager in London from the 1920s to the 1960s, describes the process in his autobiography. The dial of the scales only faced the agent, not the passengers, to preserve ladies' modesty.
There was a programme on BBC4 the other night about the rise of air travel in the 20s and 30s which showed exactly that. In some cases the luggage went separately.
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