Iberia must limit hand luggage weight on cabin crew overhead bin safety fears

A Spanish court has ordered Iberia to limit the weight of hand luggage taken on to its Airbus A350-900 aircraft to prevent cabin crew injuries, according to a cabin crew news service.

Judges dismissed demands by a coalition of flight attendant unions to not have to close the extra large overhead lockers or ‘bins’ but instead ordered Iberia to limit the weight of hand luggage brought on board.

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Each cantilevered overhead locker is designed to carry a maximum of between 30kg and 45kg – the equivalent of five full-sized carry-on cases – and must be pushed up towards to close. And because Iberia does not monitor carry-on weight, the actual weight of each locker can exceed the stated maximum.

The report states that cabin crew are expected to lift these lockers above their heads while simultaneously leaning over passengers due to the seating design. It said that with 112 overhead lockers on each of the carrier’s A350-900s,  flight attendants could be expected to perform this action 14 times each time.

The ruling acknowledges that Iberia has carried out risk assessments but found that Iberia had failed to “establish preventative measures”. While cabin crew want the bins to be replaced the judge said this was not feasible although did order Iberia to start weighing hand luggage and ensure its weight allowance was adhered to. Iberia must also ensure that when shorter crew are working on the aircraft (below 1.63 metres) that two crew members close the locker to minimise injury risk.

A recent European study by Lufthansa Consulting for the European Union Aviation Safety Agency shows no significant change in standard passenger weight since 2008 although did find that passengers now take on average 1.5 kg more carry-on luggage.

The carry-on weight is on average 7.7 kg. Female passengers take 0.6 kg less than males, and passengers take on average 1 kg more carry-on luggage with them in winter than they do in the summer. Business travellers carry on average 1kg more in their carry-on luggage than leisure travellers. There also is a significant difference in the distance of the flight. Compared to short-haul flights, medium-haul passengers take on average 0.2 kg more carry-on luggage with them and long-haul passengers take 0.4 kg more.

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