WASHINGTON — The government Thursday asked the nation's airlines to exercise greater control over passenger carry-on baggage.
The airlines now rely on flight attendants to look after such luggage, but, under a new rule proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration, an airline employee other than a crew member would be responsible for checking carry-on baggage.
The FAA said its proposed rule does not place a rigid limit on the number of baggage items, the size or weight that a passenger can carry onto a plane.
Transportation Secretary Elizabeth Hanford Dole said in a statement that an inspection of the nation's airlines two years ago found that some passengers are carrying excessive amounts of baggage, causing confusion and possible safety problems.
Could Hinder Evacuation
Dole said loose bags can hinder evacuation of passengers in the event of an accident or emergency.
"The proposed rule seeks to prevent the abuse of the FAA's regulations requiring that carry-on baggage be properly stowed before takeoff," she said.
Airlines could tailor their programs to fit different aircraft, and consideration would be given to storage capacity and the number of passengers. The programs would have to be submitted to the government for approval.
The new rule would affect about 140 domestic airlines that operate large planes. The FAA will hold a hearing on the matter July 16.
Union Is Critical
A union representing flight attendants said the proposed regulation is not strong enough and that a more uniform, clearer requirement of how many bags can be carried on board should be developed by the FAA.