Ryanair has branded Government guidelines urging airline passengers to check in all their luggage as “rubbish”.
The Irish carrier said it would continue to recommend its customers “minimise checked in luggage”, despite the Department for Transport (DfT) stating that travellers are “strongly encouraged to check in baggage” to reduce the spread of Covid-19.
Checked bags have to be handled to several different airport workers whereas only the passenger touches their hand luggage, Ryanair stated.
The DfT guidance claims reducing the amount of hand luggage taken on board planes will “speed up boarding and disembarking, and minimise the risk of transmission”.
But Ryanair insisted its management of hand luggage means “the boarding process speed is not affected”.
An airline spokeswoman said: “In attempting to minimise physical contact during the travel process, particularly on short haul flights, Ryanair recommends passengers to minimise checked in bags and, where possible, confine themselves to one or two carry-on bags.
“The UK DfT should stop issuing rubbish advice to passengers about baggage and instead focus their efforts on scrapping the UK’s useless visitor quarantine which the UK Home Office now admit cannot be implemented, supervised or policed effectively.”
EasyJet is asking passengers to “try and minimise” their hand luggage and telling them they will need to put it into overhead lockers without the assistance of cabin crew.
Airlines generally charge additional fees for putting luggage in the hold.
Checking in a 15kg bag for an easyJet flight from Gatwick to Glasgow on Monday costs an additional £23.99.
British Airways is charging £25 for putting a 23kg bag in the hold for passengers with the cheapest fare on a flight from Heathrow to the same destination on the same date.
The DfT guidance urged airlines to use “incentive policies” to minimise hand baggage.
Other advice for passengers includes wearing face coverings in airports and remaining seated as much as possible during flights.
Airlines are being encouraged to extensively clean aircraft, increase the availability of hand-washing and hand sanitiser, and reduce face-to-face interactions between staff and passengers.
Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said the guidance is “a positive next step towards ensuring a safer and more sustainable aviation sector”.
He added: “We are taking the necessary steps to ensure a framework is in place for the aviation industry to bounce back when it is safe for restrictions on travel to be lifted.”
EasyJet is resuming its flying programme on Monday.
British Airways and Ryanair, which have continued to operate a skeleton schedule during the pandemic, will ramp up their operations next month.
International arrivals into the UK have been required to enter a 14-day quarantine since Monday.
A leaked Home Office document seen by The Daily Telegraph reportedly said there was no method for officials to ensure a person’s details are “genuine”.
Home Secretary Priti insisted the measure can “help stop a devastating second wave” of coronavirus.