What will an end to ‘one bag’ legislation mean for travel retail?

The recent news that the European Parliament has voted in favour of stopping airlines from “charging exorbitant sums or refusing passengers to bring on board airport shopping” is exciting news for travel retail and can’t come a moment too soon.
For too long now retailers and passengers have been at the mercy of certain airlines who refuse to allow more than one bag to be taken on flights, to the extent where you can’t even carry on a bag and a newspaper separately. For airports like Stansted the new legislation is going to be particularly poignant, with 70% of its flights dominated by Ryanair, who currently don’t allow passengers more than one bag to carry on and these have be no heavier than 10kilos, this is going to be a huge game changer for its retailers.
Up until now retailers have been forced to come up with more and more creativemeans to encourage customers to spend whilst they travel. Since last year, for example, World Duty Free in Stansted has been offering free bags – the exact size suitable for carry-on – to its customers, encouraging them to put their own hand luggage inside and offering to weigh it with any extra shopping items to ensure they don’t get “stung” before boarding their flight.
Other major airports have worked to promote their Buy & Collect services -brought in around the time as the abolition of duty free in 1999 – allowing passengers the chance to make the most of tax free without the worry of carrying it onboard. This however, doesn’t help the issue of those that want to buy larger items, laptops for example, as gifts for people they are travelling to meet or items they need for the journey.
The one-bag rule has also added to the extra feeling that travel retail can be more of a hassle rather than a delight – with this on top of having to spend time weighing bags before boarding, passengers may feel “what’s the point” if it’s going to only complicate their journey.
Travel Retailers – like any other retailer in today’s market – know only too well that with an increasingly discerning and savvy public, items can be easily bought online, so the more options (and the less restrictions) customers have to buy when travelling the better. Anything that’s going to add any stress or expense might be seen as being easily rectified with the click of a mouse.
This all causes a massive headache for those in the travel retail industry who want to encourage sales and delight passengers with extensive and exclusive product ranges, but know that they are limited to what they can promote depending on its size and weight. The end of the one bag legislation will be a great boon for the promotions industry too. All promotional activity can return to what all non-travel retailers focus on: key events, new product launches etc. without having to fixate on getting around the issue of product size and weight.
Travel retail should be part of the passenger’s overall holiday experience – it’s the moment of anticipation before travel where you can buy last minute forgotten items, gifts for loved ones or luxury treats for yourself. If this legislation goes ahead it will be as beneficial to passengers as it is for retailers and operators. Fundamentally it’s in everyone’s interest.
Sally Alington is Managing Director of Blackjack Promotions.