United Announcement to Reduce Carry-On Bags Moves on Long-Time Flight Attendant Union Safety Initiative

CHICAGO (November 15, 2016) — The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) has for years worked to limit the number and size of carry-on bags in an effort to reduce risks of injury and conflict onboard the aircraft. United Airlines' announcement of a new “Basic Economy” that includes a requirement for passengers to check luggage will likely reduce carry on baggage and improve safety for crew and passengers.

“United’s move to encourage fewer carry-on bags, similar to practices at Frontier and Spirit, will create a safer cabin for passengers and crew. Excess bags in the cabin lead to flight attendant injuries, slower boarding times, and passenger altercations. Flight attendants manage these safety and security issues often under the pressure of on-time departures and during a critical period for ensuring the overall security of the flight. Footage from recent aircraft evacuations show that passengers grabbing these bags risks the lives of everyone onboard,” said Sara Nelson, AFA International President.

AFA has long urged Congress and the Federal Aviation Administration to establish standardized carry-on limitations to improve the overall safety, health and security of crew and passengers inside the aircraft cabin. The Flight Attendant Union continues to press for regulation limiting carry-on bags to reduce injuries, distractions and conflict caused by carry-ons. This will enable flight attendants to devote more attention to the critical task of ensuring the safest and most secure flight possible.

A 2010 AFA flight attendant survey documented regular injuries from carry-ons in overhead bins. The most common injuries were strained and pulled muscles in the neck, arms and upper back. The survey was compiled from a representative sample of the 60,000 AFA members at 22 US airlines.


The Association of Flight Attendants is the Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for 71 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 50,000 Flight Attendants come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-member strong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.

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