THE "single bag" rule imposed by some airlines is unfair and undermines the competitiveness of regional airports, the European Parliament was told during a debate called by a West Midlands Conservative MEP.
Philip Bradbourn believes rules which strictly limit passengers to just one bag as hand luggage are an abuse of the carriers' position.
He called a special debate in the parliament to outline how he said the rule caused chaos at departure gates and hit local airports by undermining their income from retail sales.
In a statement circulated to fellow MEPs, he described how “a lack of clarity” over the rule meant it was not uncommon for "chaos to reign...at departure gates across Europe" as passengers suddenly discovered they either faced hefty fines or the loss of personal possessions.
Mr Bradbourn said that as well as airport retail purchases, even such necessary items as handbags, laptops and umbrellas could fall foul of the rule if they were in addition to another piece of hand luggage taken on board.
He insisted: "This is not limited to the so-called low-cost sector. Any planned action must be clear on the need for greater clarity and advance warning of cabin-baggage restrictions for passengers."
Mr Bradbourn first highlighted what he described as “the iniquity” of the single-bag rule in March last year, when he launched a report, on his own initiative, in the parliament on potential measures to boost the fortunes of regional airports across Europe.
He believes they have a key role to play in an efficient and well-integrated air-transport system - but, along with other handicaps, the single-bag rule is “hitting one of their key revenue streams” by stopping passengers using airport retail stores.
Mr Bradbourn’s report was endorsed by the parliament last May but the European Commission has so far “failed” to address the issue.
Mr Bradbourn said: "It is in response to...the subsequent lack of action from the Commission that we discuss this item.
“In the light of the forthcoming legislation on passenger rights, I call upon the Commission to work with the industry and introduce minimum standards for cabin-baggage restrictions, based on easy-to-understand and readily-accessible information at the time of purchase and in terms of up-front pricing within the cost of the ticket.
“I strongly believe this would benefit passengers, airports and, indeed, the wider European economy."