You can't use the overhead bins on many flights to/from Italy
Photo by Vidar Nordli-Mathisen on Unsplash

Thanks to COVID-19 and a new provision from ENAC (Italy’s aviation authority), most flights to and from Italy are no longer permitting passengers to store bags in the overhead bins. The idea is to avoid congregating, and to keep that one person that always seems to forget something in their bag and from continuously popping up to get it (sometimes that’s me). These days, no one wants someone hovering over their head and breathing on them.

Bags that normally go in the overhead will be allowed to be checked for free, and passengers can still use the storage space by their feet, so purses and small backpacks should be fine. Here’s how the policy is written by Alitalia, one of the airlines enforcing it:

“From 26 June, following the provision of ENAC, to protect the health of passengers, the use of overhead bins for the storage of hand baggage will no longer be allowed on all flights operated in Italy. Passengers will only be permitted to bring on board small baggage, that can be placed under their seat such as, for example, handbags, backpacks, laptop cases not exceeding 36x45x20 cm. We invite passengers to deliver their baggage to the airport at the Check-in / Drop-off counter, to be placed in the hold, free of charge;”

What they’re doing on most flights to and from Italy could soon become the norm. This would suck, but I do understand the reasoning behind it.

More on checking bags when you can’t use the overhead bins

Most frequent travelers try to avoid checking bags at all costs. That’s because checking a bag adds so much more time and stress to a flight. You have to show up extra early, possibly pay a checked bag fee, wonder if your bag will even make it on the plane, worry that someone will steal the contents or that the airline will damage your bag or goods, and then wait for what seems like an eternity for it to show up. You also can’t jump on another flight as easily if your original flight is delayed or canceled. It’s much more difficult to take public transportation lugging a bag with you.

The only time I wasn’t permitted to use the overhead bin—or for that matter bring any kind of carry-on on a flight—was in August of 2006. British authorities had just discovered a terrorist plot to detonate liquid explosives, which is the reason why passengers are now limited to just 3.4 ounces (100 milliliters) or less per item of liquid in one quart-size bag.

If you think that’s bad, on that day and for a couple days afterwards, every single passenger—at least flying to/from Europe—had to check all of their belongings. And I mean everything but their wallets and medicine. I just happened to be in Gatwick airport on my way to Sardinia when this whole thing unfolded, and I had to check my camera, my laptop and all my personal belongings. Here’s the story I wrote about the experience.



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