Passengers with luggage outside Rome's Fiumicino airport. Photo: AFP
The rule change was clarified by the National Civil Aviation Authority (ENAC), Il Corriere della Sera reports, saying it specifically prohibits the use of overhead lockers for any type of luggage “for health reasons”.
Small handbags and items which can be placed under the seat in front of you are still allowed.
The measure is intended to prevent aisles being blocked and crowds forming whilst passengers are boarding or disembarking, as the government aims to limit the risks of spreading Covid-19.
All passengers, even on long-haul flights, will have to store their hand luggage in the aircraft hold.
Enac said that passengers would not need to pay a supplement to put their suitcases in the hold.
Italian consumer association Codacons welcomed the decision on Friday, saying it would “avoid the chaos” which sometimes occurs in cabins “when passengers place their luggage in the overhead compartments”.
“In this area, the Italians are among the most unruly travellers in Europe, causing delays and queues which today would fuel the risk of contagion,” the association said.
The ban on carry-on baggage, along with Italy's other new flying rules, was announced on June 11th in the latest emergency decree – though it seemed that only “large” trolley cases would be prohibited, and the use of overhead lockers wasn't mentioned.
Meanwhile, social distancing rules on planes have been dropped, and passengers are no longer required to be seated apart.
In the same decree, Italy has dropped the requirement for airlines to seat passengers at least a metre apart – which effectively halved the number of people who could board each flight – so long as the plane is equipped with a HEPA (High Efficiency Particulate Air) filter.
According to the International Air Transport Association, HEPA filters capture more than 99 percent of airborne microbes and keep fresh air flowing continuously, resulting in all the air in the cabin being replaced entirely every two to three minutes. Almost all large commercial aircraft operating in Italy and throughout Europe use them.
There are various other restrictions in place on flights, including a requirement for passengers to wear a face mask and to fill out a form.