On a recent full flight there was no room overhead for my standard cabin bag which had even been given an approved sticker when I checked my baggage in. The FA instructed me to put it under the seat in front from where it completely blocked the seat aisle. I complained that this wasnt safe and was told it was 'normal'. Well, not in my 50 plus years of flying nor according to the airlines own safety card. There were many other seat aisles similarly blocked.

What are the applicable safety regulations?

Should I notify any oversight organization, and if so which one? The carrier was Lufhansa, out of LHR.

The phrase "many other seat aisles" suggests the OP is referring to the space between seat rows. – David

Yes, David, that's what I meant.

Also I didnt mention there was a announcement that business class passengers should put their extra baggage on the spare seat in their

My concern is that if there are these very public breaches of Lufthansas own rules what is going on behind the scenes?

I'll post pics when I get home.

Added from a different post:

By way of example of what is normally required, the US FAA Advisory Circular Carry-On Baggage which provides information on how to comply with carry-on baggage regulations (AC121-29A, page 2, Par5) says that the FAA could approve a carry-on baggage program that requires baggage stowed under a seat not to project beyond the overhanging seat. It says ... ensure that each piece of baggage fits under the seat such that no part of the bag protrudes bey0nd the fully upright seat back or causes obstruction to passenger movement to, from, or across the aisle'.

As another example, the Lufthansa Terms and Conditions - General Conditions of Carriage state at 8.7.1 Baggage you carry onto the aircraft must fit under the seat in front of you ... The airlines own diagrams and even the tags attached to carry on bags show such a bag entirely under (ie NOT sticking out) the seat as the FAA prescription above.

National aviation safety agencies such as the FAA or CASA (Australia, with whom I have discussed this issue) have no authority over other nation's airlines. Thus a complaint to the UK CAA cannot be dealt with by it and has been referred to the German Luftfahrt-Bundesamt section responsible airline licensing and cabin-crew inspection.

Following are some pictures from the flight in question:

photo taken inside plane

photo taken inside plane

  • 3
    I'm not sure where to begin with this. It could be a simple question, that may still not be for this site, but it's mostly a rant, which is not really what any of StackExchange is for. Have you tried searching for airline safety regulations for the EU? Surely information on blocking the aisle can be easily obtained with web search. And my random 2 cents is that you only need to ensure the emergency exit rows are clear.
    – zymhan
    Jul 29, 2019 at 20:24
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    Hi, I edited your question to be more answerable, but I have a nagging doubt about what do you mean by "seat aisles" ? Is this the space between seat rows or the aisle proper?
    – AEhere
    Jul 29, 2019 at 21:23
  • 3
    What most airlines do in these cases is gate-check any luggage which can not safely be placed under the seat in front of you. I don’t know why they didn’t do it in this case. What size was your bag?
    – jcaron
    Jul 30, 2019 at 6:44
  • 3
    The phrase "many other seat aisles" suggests the OP is referring to the space between seat rows. Jul 31, 2019 at 3:36
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    There is a picture about prohibiting luggage in the seat aisle, but that only applies to exit rows, and i'm pretty sure that this is enforced (Example: aircollection.org/part/DLH/A321_2)
    – dunni
    Jul 31, 2019 at 19:51

1 Answer 1


You are right to ask about safety-related issues, and of course a passenger has every right to inquire about or report such things, though I would first seek clarification from the cabin crew or airline.

That said, most of the "outrageous" things you'll see (wether live or on the internet), are actually perfectly safe, as for example fixing minor problems with speed tape


As for your question, it is impossible to answer what the regulations are on your flight without knowing the exact procedures of that particular airline for that particular type of aircraft. So unless some A320-Lufthansa cabin crew pitches in, we'll probably not get a definitive answer.

In their passenger-facing documentation Lufthansa suggest to put laptop bags and such under the seat, and trolley luggage into the bins. But that doesn't mean their internal rules don't allow larger items.

The FAA has some information on cabin safety, which gives some insights into the general guidelines. These will probably be the same, or very similar, in Europe. Note that they refer several times to the "airlines carry-on baggage program", indicating that the airline will have to provide the specifics.

It is a bit moot to discuss the safety card: They are not meant to be a exact diagram on the maximum dimensions of items under the seat.

A note on terminology: The "aisle" is the walkway in the middle of the plane. It does not refer to rows of seats or the space between them - this was confusing in the initial question and needs to be understood when reading the safety regulations.

Even according to your explanation, the aisle of the aircraft was never blocked.

Is it safe?

The FAA guide gives some insight in what safe: The baggage must be stowed in designated places, not obstruct emergency equipment and not obstruct movement through, or to and from, the aisle, and the luggage must not move around.

  • The picture of the roll-on luggage seems to indicate that is safe. It fits under the seat, and does not potrude behind the "feet" of the seat, which are usually about as far back as the backrest of the seat. The luggage is secured on all sides and won't impede your exit from the seat much more than the "feet" do. I realise that this configuration leaves you with no legroom and is crazy uncomfortable, but that, in itself, doesn't make it unsafe.
  • The picture of the handbag does seem to show it isn't stowed completely properly and may come lose or impede movement. It looks like it could fit, though. We do not know when this picture was taken and if they were told to stow it correctly later on.
  • The "business class" announcement sounds like a misunderstanding to me - it is pretty normal to ask them to stow thing "in the space under the free seat", and that is most likely what they meant. Of course bags must never be stowed on seats, and it seems very unlikely that the crew would ever allow this to happen. According to your original question, we have no indication that it did.

Can they do that?

Part of your question seems to be wether it is likely that the cabin crew of a major European airline would regularly flaunt safety regulations. The answer is, most likely, no.

The airline industry is highly regulated, and crews are regularly and specifically trained on this. While some may be more relaxed about things, any flight attendant who intentionally goes against safety regulations risks to be fired, or worse, especially when doing so in a public, obvious way. And no airline would ever officially permit such conduct.

So in your situation it seems they had much to lose, but apparently nothing to gain, by going against regulations.

To me it seems more that the crew prioritised an on-time departure over the comfort of (some) passengers.

  • 2
    I usually keep my purse like that during flights and only push it under the seat for takeoff and landing. That way I can extend my feet under the seat instead. Bags usually only have to be stowed correctly for takeoff and landing (and possibly turbulence).
    – user141592
    Sep 2, 2019 at 8:15
  • There are also a lot of other regulation regarding pilots and alcohol that are pretty darn strict. There are plenty of reports of pilots being arrested long before they got anywhere near the plane. I read about a pilot that had to dismiss himself because a dumb passenger made a snide remark about the pilot being drunk, and the airline's regulation requires him to immediately be checked after any type of accusation and so he had to get off the plane and cancel the entire flight!
    – Nelson
    Dec 16, 2019 at 5:54

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