Air Passenger Rights

Securing the rights of passengers to continue to bring their airport purchases onboard, in addition to their cabin baggage, without being fined.

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Securing the right of air passengers to carry airport shopping onboard

The duty-free and travel retail industry is addressing one of its biggest challenges yet with the implementation by some air carriers of cabin baggage restrictions.

Passengers flying certain airlines are required to cram all their personal belongings, including airport purchases, into a single carry-on bag. Those who are not able to fit their airport purchases into one bag are forced to either pay a fine up to €50, throw the items away, or are denied travel.

ETRC is committed to securing the rights of passengers to bring their airport purchases onboard at no extra cost.

The implementation of these cabin baggage restrictions has had a dramatic impact on airport sales as well as created confusion and frustration among passengers.

According to Airports Council International (ACI) Europe, the single largest category of non-aeronautical revenues is income from airport retail concessions, accounting for 43% of total non-aeronautical revenues (ACI EUROPE Economics Report 2012).

Need for EU legislation

ETRC strongly believes that EU measures are required to support enhanced air passenger rights and in particular, the right for passengers to carry their airside airport purchases on board in addition to their baggage allowance.

In March 2013, the European Commission proposed to revise the current EU legislation on Air Passenger Rights, but overlooked the issues related to hand luggage and the carriage of airport shopping. The proposal is currently being discussed separately by the European Parliament and the Council of EU Member States as co-legislators before the three institutions agree on final legislation. 

The European Parliament has on many occasions (see reports in the Links section) recognised the negative impact of these restrictions on the passenger experience, on airport retail sales and on airports. At a vote in Transport committee on the report on Air Passenger Rights on 17 December 2013, MEPs adopted an amendment to allow passengers to bring at least one bag of airport shopping for free, in addition to airlines hand luggage allowance. This position was confirmed by a plenary vote at first reading early February 2014.

As of 2020, the proposal is still being discussed by Member States in the Council who could not reach a first reading agreement yet. ETRC continues working to ensure that the Council follows this recommendation when it comes to finalising their position.

Study: The economics and regulation of on-board carriage of European airport retail sales

Commissioned by the European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC), and supported by ACI Europe, this study considers the impact that restrictions imposed by some airlines on passengers carrying airport shopping on-board are having on passengers’ experience at airports and on their longer term interests in the level of service and connectivity provided by the European aviation system.

The report also identifies potential detriments from this practice, considers policy solutions and recommends that proposals from the European Parliament to accord passengers the right to carry on board airport shopping in addition to hand baggage should be pursued as the most effective solution.

The study is available for download in the section 'Latest documents' on this page.