Italy is banning the use of overhead bins on certain flights. The Italian Civil Aviation Authority is making this change on board to keep the passengers safe.
As passengers congregating in the aisles during boarding and potentially spreading coronavirus. However, it is in effect on all flights to Italy where the middle seat is no longer blocked off.
No More Crowding The Aisles
Many US airlines are not following social distancing and are booking seats to full capacity possible. The middle seat is not open for bookings. However, when they fly to Italy they will have to follow the overhead bin rule.
Italy’s ENAC said in a statement the new rule is enforced to discourage the passengers from gathering in the aisles on flights to Italy. That is not following social distancing and booking seats to full capacity.
However, passengers can only take hand luggage on board. That can fit under the seat in front of passengers. The agency also made it clear that passengers must check-in larger carry-on bags before the flight. However, the agency said all the airlines must follow the rule regardless of nationality.
On flights to and from Italy and within Italy, if they do not respect social distancing, the use of overhead bins is not permitted for health reasons, ENAC said.
Response Of Other Airlines To New Rule
Alitalia, the national carrier of Italy, said that they will check carry-on bags. And will not charge any fee for checking in the luggage of overhead bins.
However, British Airways will also the new rule for passengers traveling into Italy. The new rule is a federal mandate. The airlines must follow them. And not charge any fee from passengers for checking bags that typically would have fit in the overhead bin.
American Aviation response
In the U.S., United and American Airlines are returning to normal aircraft seating. American stating “as more people continue to travel, customers may notice that flights are booked to capacity starting July 1. American will continue to notify customers. And allow them to move to more open flights when available, all without incurring any cost.”
However, Delta is blocking middle seats until October.
Officials from two of the major US airlines, American and Delta said that they do not plan to change anything about their overhead bins. Instead, they will be making changes to boarding and onboard procedures to promote social distancing.
“We have changed our boarding process to board from back to front to reduce instances of customers passing by each other,” said a Delta spokesperson. “We are also taking additional time during boarding, doing so in small groups of rows. Our flight attendants are also making announcements prior to arrival at the gate. We request everyone remain seated until the row in front of you has gotten their luggage to reduce contact as well.”
However, American Airlines is limiting the food and beverage service to passengers. To limit the contact between the crew and passengers. But the airline is not planning to make any adjustments to Italy’s bag policies and procedures.
But the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), which is a union of 50,000 flight attendants across 20 airlines, says airline procedures like staggered boarding and face mask requirement are not enough.
The AFA has been trying to make the COVID-19 regulations a federal law. So there is unity in all airlines to following the same procedures and standards of health and safety measures. Such as PPE and capacity reductions, similar to ENAC’s recent rule change.
“Airlines have taken a lot of proactive changes to procedures onboard, but the federal government has resisted mandating any COVID-related health and safety measures,” a spokesperson for the union said in a statement. “Airlines are doing them for now, but that won’t necessarily be the case forever. AFA continues to call for the federal government to institute a plan of action.”