Etihad Airways has long been praised as a luxury, five star airline. They offer one of the largest First Class Suites, a top five business class seat and a very favorable economy set up. But the airline appears to be slipping into a deep tailspin of cuts, slashes and unfriendly moves which negatively affect passengers. The latest such move: cutting checked baggage allowances.

Who

Etihad Airways, hailing from the United Arab Emirates has been a force to be reckoned with in the aviation world. Much like their neighbor – Emirates, with whom they are rumored to be in merger talks, the airline has expanded at a fever pitch. Dwindling oil prices and robust competition however, have forced the airline to cut back on many of the defining elements of its brand.

What

Etihad is cutting baggage allowance for passengers in the economy business and first class cabins. The airline is attempting to spin these changes as a positive, but in reality it’s a very confusing new system. The new baggage rules vary by each departure point, and may even vary for the return journey!

Specifics

For passengers flying from the US or Canada nothing changes. But for everyone else – get your scales ready. Passengers on journeys in any cabin originating from Europe, Asia, Africa, India, Australia and elsewhere now have a weight limit, rather than a bag limit. There’s no specific limit on the number of bags you can bring, just the total cumulative weight. For all discount economy tickets the baggage limit is now 30kg. Business and first class allowances have been reduced by at least 10kg, as well. You can check the new rules for your specific route here.

Etihad lounge JFK.

When

This change is effective immediately. Passengers who booked before January 31st will be entitled to the old limits. That doesn’t mean you won’t have to mention this, if an agent fails to realize this policy, however. For everyone booked from February 1st and onward, you’ll need to observe the new, totally confusing policies.

Why

Weight is one of the largest factors in flight profitability. Jet fuel is not cheap, and airlines going to great extremes to lighten planes to burn less fuel. This move is a clear cut – cut, aimed at increasing the profitability of each flight. If you’d like to bring an indulgent amount of baggage, you’ll need to book a $25,000 ticket in the Residence, which offers a 128kg weight limit. Many legacy airlines are moving to “lite” fares, which charge for any checked baggage, so this move is hardly surprising. It doesn’t mean we passenger must enjoy experiencing the race to the bottom however.

What do you think of these new policies?