Weightlifters To Be On Hand At Two Airports
Britain's strongest men could face their toughest task yet when
they attempt to persuade air travellers to pack lighter Monday. The
men will be on hand at two of the UK's busiest airports, Heathrow
and Manchester, to help passengers to guess the weight of their
luggage before they check-in as part of a three-pronged campaign by
Unite, the UK's biggest union, to urge travellers to cut the weight
of airport baggage to 23kg -- or 51 pounds.
Unite says heavy bags are causing millions of passengers to face
extra charges for failing to travel light, and could be
contributing to the accidents and injuries caused by workers
shifting heavy bags. Passengers that do "Lighten Up" will also be
helping the environment as lighter planes mean less fuel which in
turn means fewer harmful co2 emissions.
'Lighten Up' will be launched by Britain's strongest men, Rob
Frampton at Heathrow Airport 's Terminal 2 at 10am and Laurence
Shahlaie at Terminal I/Check In, Manchester Airport from 6:00 am,
both on Monday. The strong men will be highlighting to passengers
that there is no standard weight over which airlines charge for
excess or amount changed per kilogram.
For example, a family of four travelling within Europe on a
return ticket with one bag each weighing 51 lbs could pay anything
between zero excess at British Airways, up to $400 at Easyjet...
and nearly $1,500 at ultra-low-cost airline Ryanair. Unite
officials and representatives will also be on hand, and joined by
local MPs, to encourage travellers to travel light by following
their "23 tips for 23kg" guide.
"Last minute charges levied at the departure gate for excess
baggage can hit cash -- conscious holiday makers hard," said Steve
Turner, Unite national officer. "The way airlines charge for
luggage is bewildering and varies enormously from carrier to
carrier so our advice to the travelling public is wisen up and
'Lighten up'. Spend your money aboard not getting there."
Two years ago, the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Aviation
Industry Committee agreed to reduce the weight of checked-in
baggage from 32 to 23 kilograms per item. The International Air
Transport Association (IATA) has also backed the call... However,
Unite is concerned that revenue-hungry, recession-hit airlines may
be tempted by excess charges to passengers and so not motivated to
get behind the new safe 23kg limit.
"Heavy bags cause problems for everybody. They cost the public
dear, boost harmful co2 emissions and contribute to the injuries
suffered by airline baggage staff. Most people think that baggage
handling is fully automated. The reality is that a bag can be
lifted up to a dozen times on a journey," added Turner.
The union notes baggage handlers are five times more likely to
suffer muscular skeletal injury than any other worker in the UK
according to Britain's Health, Safety and Environment office.