A traveller preparing to fly to Thailand on holiday has found himself in hospital instead, having been seriously injured by a passenger’s bag that hit him on the head when it tumbled from an overhead locker as the plane taxied down the runway and prepared for take-off.
The unnamed man was struck by falling hand luggage as the British Airways flight prepared to depart London’s Heathrow Airport for Bangkok.
BA confirmed the man had to be kept in hospital overnight following the incident but denied the mishap occurred while the plane was moving, claiming the plane was stationary at the time, Britain’s Sun newspaper has reported.
A source told The Sun: “The passenger was getting ready for the flight when suddenly the overhead locker burst open and a heavy-duty bag landed on his head.
“There was a terrible sound on impact and he collapsed. It was a freak accident but the poor flier was described as fighting for his life.”
British Airways said the incident occurred on Monday afternoon, the paper reported.
A spokesman for the airline said: “Our crew cared for a customer who was injured after boarding the aircraft. We take the health and safety of our customers very seriously and our cabin crew receive extensive training to deal with incidents on board.
“He was taken to a local hospital and we wish him a speedy recovery.”
British Airways hand baggage weight allowances appear to be astonishingly generous. BA’s website says: “The maximum weight per bag is up to 23kg/51lb and you must be able to lift it into the overhead locker by yourself.”
That weight, 23kg, is the maximum that most airlines allow you to carry in the hold as checked baggage.
BA adds on its website: “We offer one of the most generous free hand baggage allowances of any airline, so you’ll never be short of space for all those travel essentials you like to fly with.”
Qantas, for comparison. has a maximum carry-on baggage weight of 7kg per piece, in line with most airlines.
Earlier this year, a passenger filed a USD 49,000 lawsuit against Southwest Airlines in the US, claiming an oversized bag plummeted from an overhead locker as the plane prepared for take-off.
Some years ago, Sydney-based specialist travel and tourism lawyer, Anthony Cordato, noted in his advice to travellers that: “Baggage cases stowed in overhead lockers on aircraft can fall on your head in-flight – so too can a duty free bottle of whisky in a plastic bag. It’s a real and ever present danger. You run a greater risk of personal injury if you sit in an aisle seat – it increases the risk profile – compared with an inside or a window seat.”
Written by Peter Needham