Customers of budget airline bmibaby are routinely asked at departure gates to put their hand luggage in a metal cage to ensure it met size restrictions. Fair enough.

But the dimensions of the cages at their departure gates (at all airports) were smaller than those on the main concourse, meaning a £30 each way surcharge as the bags then had to go in the hold because they didn’t fit.

Most airlines pay check-in staff a bonus linked to the value of the excess baggage fees they collect.

It is thought that bmibaby have known about the ‘problem’ or ‘design flaw’ for some time and are now actually going to do something about it.

Ryanair, EasyJet and Flybe insist that their own measuring guages, for weight and dimensions, are accurate.

Permitted hand luggage sizes do vary from airline to airline, so you can’t count on a ‘one size fits all’ when travelling.

Ryanair – 55cm x 40cm x20cm – Charge if too big = £70

EasyJet – 56cm x 45cm x 25cm – Charge if too big = £36

Monarch – 56cm x 45cm x 25cm – Charge if too big = £36

Flybe – 50cm x 35cm x 23cm – Charge if too big = £60

bmibaby – 55cm x 40cm x 20cm – Charge if too big = £60

Thomson’s – 55cm x 40cm x 20cm – Charge if too big = £0

British Airways – 56cm x 45cm x 25cm – Charge if too big = £0

Gone are the days of being able to buy a standard ‘cabin bag’, the maximum allowed sizes varying quite considerably. It won’t be long before anything bigger than a matchbox attracts a charge, great for a family of four on a two week vacation.

Two tips, though. If you have a lot of small, and perhaps heavy items, and you are having trouble getting it all into the matchbox: invest in a coat with lots of big pockets. You can put camera equipment, almost anything really, into your coat pockets.

Wear as many items of clothes as you can, two or three jumpers if necessary. You may look silly, but providing you can actually fit into the aircraft seat and fasten the seatbelt, the airlines are not bothered and have no grounds to stop you. Looking silly is not yet an offence.

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