Last January 18, 2018, a certain passenger, tall, built, and able, boarded his Scoot flight, TR180, from Singapore to Nanjing. Upon getting to his seat, he hands his luggage to the flight attendant. The flight attendant professionally declined from stowing the luggage of the unhindered and built man, and even said "If your hand was injured, I would gladly assist you". The passenger went on saying "I will complain" while holding his cup of water, insisting that the flight attendant lifts his luggage.
The flight attendant politely offered to hold the passenger's cup of water so he can lift his luggage but this made the passenger more irate in which the flight attendant already called for her supervisor. The passenger complained about the flight attendant's attitude and asked the supervisor to stow his luggage. The supervisor then said “Mister, you are so well-built, I can assist in holding your water while you put your luggage away.”
The passenger went on attacking the attitude of the cabin crew. At that point, the supervisor said “Mister, if you insist on this, I will ask security to do it for you.”
That was the only time the passenger stowed his luggage unto the overhead compartment.
Whenever we fly, many of us happily stows our own hand carries unto the overhead bins, to make sure they are secure and we know where to find them when we deplane. Passengers usually only seek assistance from cabin crew members only when we are struggling with their bags, who usually are PWDs, pregnant women, and senior citizens having a hard time stow their own luggage.
Allow us to point out the term assistance.
Cabin crew members are obliged to lend assistance in the lifting of hand carries unto the overhead stowage bins (OSBs) to PWDs, pregnant women, senior citizens, and those who struggle in lifting their hand carries. Lend assistance, meaning, both cabin crew and passenger will lift the luggage at the same time, with primary responsibility still on the passenger, until the luggage is properly in place. The cabin crew would usually just adjust its position in order to maximize space.
Otherwise, if the passenger is able, unhindered, and faces no struggle in lifting the luggage, it is then his or her responsiblity to stow it all by himself or herself.
Sadly, there are still some passengers who think that it is the obligation of flight attendants to lift passenger luggage unto the OSBs and some even demand for it. It is either they are just misinformed, or, they think that they also own the flight attendant aside from the air ticket.
We want to point out that cabin crew members are NOT obligated to lift passenger luggage unto the OSBs. The repetive lifting of luggage does pose a health hazard as it may cause short to long term injuries to the arms and back of the cabin crew. A cabin crew's primary role in an aircraft is to ensure passenger safety and security, hence, in the event of an emergency where the possibility of carrying injured passengers is there, they have to be at tiptop shape at all costs. Lives are more important than luggage and personal belongings. They would rather sustain injury while saving lives than the from getting injured caused by the unnecessary lifting of luggage.
Below are pictures of injuries caused by the lifting of luggage unto the OSBs. Some happened in a single incident, some where results of long term repetive lifting, and one after a passenger slapped the flight attendant because of this issue.
We have more undocumented stories of cabin crew members who underwent surgery caused by the lifting of luggage.
Two years ago, we asked 5 airlines particularly Etihad, Cathay Pacific, United Airlines, Air Asia, and Philippine Airlines, if cabin crew members are obligated to lift passenger luggage unto the overhead bins and here are their replies.
If you will notice, we got the reply from 2 5-star airlines, 1 4-star airline, 1 3-star, and a budget carrier. They all said one thing, their cabin crew are only obliged to lend assistance to passengers, particularly PWDs. Again, lending assistance meaning, both cabin crew and passenger will LIFT the luggage, and not the cabin crew alone.
So to end this, here's our 'word' to passengers.
If you are a PWD travelling unaccompanied, please do declare this when purchasing your tickets. Airlines and airports already have SOPs in providing assistance. When asking for assistance from the cabin crew to lift your luggage because you have hard time doing it, please do not let go of your luggage while being assisted until it is in place on the OSB.
If you are a built, unhindered, and very able passenger, please do lift your luggage by yourself. If you are able to carry them into your car to the airport to the check-in counter or kiosk to the pre-departure area, then definitely you can lift it up, the same way as how excited you are to take them out after the aircraft lands.
Again, the cabin crew are not obligated to lift your luggage unto the overhead bins. They are however obligated to lend assistance to PWDs, pregnant women, and others who struggle to lift their luggage by themselves.
And to the cabin crew, we do suggest that you seek advices from your trainors and supervisors on how to address these able unhindered passengers making you lift their luggage unto the overhead bins. Preserve your backs well, stay in tiptop shape. In the event of an emergency situation, your backs and arms will be your best friends when you need to carry injured passengers should the unthinkable happen. The lives of your passengers are more important than their luggage.