Malaysia Airlines yesterday lifted the unusual restriction it placed on long-haul flights earlier this week, whereby passengers were permitted to fly with cabin baggage only and without their check-in baggage. The check-in baggage followed them on later flights.
The temporary ban on check-in baggage on some flights to Europe was imposed because of “unreasonably strong headwinds” on the longer flight paths it was taking to Europe for safety reasons. Reuters used the word “unreasonably”, though “unseasonably” seems more likely.
Yesterday, the airline told a customer on its Facebook page: “We understand your frustrations and concerns. We will strive our best to send the baggage over soonest possible. Kindly note that each airline conducts their own risk assessment. The baggage limitation ban may be lifted after 6th January depending on whether conditions. We hope this clarifies.”
Shortly afterwards, Malaysia Airlines confirmed on its website: “Temporary Limitation on Checked In Baggage Allowance for Kuala Lumpur-Europe Sector Uplifted. All Malaysia Airlines’ flights from Kuala Lumpur to London, Paris and Amsterdam from tonight, 6 January 2016, will resume flying its normal route. Normal baggage allowance has also been restored.
“Passengers are able to check in 2 pieces of luggage of up to 30kg for Economy Class, 40kg for Business Class and 50kg for First Class.”
Malaysia Airlines adopted new flight paths to Europe in October, taking a longer routing and flying over Egypt rather than Iran, presumably for safety reasons.
It switched flight paths after European regulators advised that Russian cruise missiles aimed at Syria and fired from the Caspian Sea were passing through Iranian airspace. Though the terrain-following cruise missiles fly at a much lower altitude than that used by commercial aircraft, Malaysia Airlines took the safest possible option.
Malaysia Airlines has adopted a very cautious approach since flight MH17 was shot down by a missile over eastern Ukraine in 2014.
On Tuesday, the airline said passengers flying between Kuala Lumpur and Europe would be limited to just 7kg of carry-on luggage in economy class and 14kg in business and first class – with no allowance to check any bags on the aircraft.
The airline then dropped the restriction, issuing an official statement on the matter late yesterday afternoon:
Malaysia Airlines confirmed today that normal check-in baggage allowances are available on all flights across the network including services to Amsterdam, London and Paris.
The airline has recently had to operate a longer route to Europe, which combined with strong head winds, limited the airlines’ ability to carry baggage and cargo. The head winds over the last four days were in excess of 200knots which can add up to 15% fuel burn on a B777-200 aircraft. All baggage is being shipped to affected customers in Europe.
Based on its current risk assessment, done on a daily basis, the airline is now able to take a shorter route on European flights. Malaysia Airlines maintains that safety is of utmost priority in its operations and will not hesitate to adjust its flight path based on its daily risk assessment.
Written by Peter Needham