EasyJet will start charging higher airfare for the use of overhead luggage lockers starting February 10. As criticism over the airline's new luggage policy flooded social media, Easyjet said customers who don't buy higher priced tickets will be restricted to stuffing a small carry-on bag under their seat.

Currently, the airline allows customers to fly with a carry-on bag measuring 56 x 45 x 25cm. This enables flyers to put small wheelie suitcases into the overhead cabin lockers. However, with its new rules, passengers travelling with additional luggage of this size as hand luggage will be required to buy a higher priced ticket such as an Up Front or Extra Legroom seat. Prices of these can range from an additional £7.99 up to £29.99 compared to the standard fare.

Passengers who purchase more expensive Flexi fares or are members of the carrier's frequent flyer scheme will continue to enjoy luggage privileges of having one small and one large hand luggage, but still subject to the available space on board, the BBC reported.

According to EasyJet, customers with an existing booking from February 10 but do not want to pay more for overhead cabin lockers will be able to check in one larger cabin bag in the aircraft hold free of charge.

Many of its customers are dismayed and accused the airline of "monetising every opportunity." However, some still welcome the changes saying it would free up a lot of storage space.

EasyJet said the changes would improve punctuality. Robert Carey, chief commercial and customer officer for EasyJet said:

"Punctuality is important to our customers and we know that if they have their bags placed into the hold at the gate due to the limited space onboard this can cause flight delays, and it can be frustrating for them too."

"Our new policy will improve boarding and punctuality for everyone, as well as give our customers certainty of what they will have with them onboard," Carey added.

Previously, EasyJet used its luggage allowance scheme as a means to differentiate them from competitors. Ryanair limits passengers to one small item of hand luggage without an extra fee, while British Airways' cheapest fares include one large and one small item of hand luggage.

A spokesperson from the airline said the change in baggage allowance had been under consideration since before the pandemic.

After it grounds its planes, easyJet said that for two months crew would be paid 80 percent of their average pay thanks to an emergency UK government scheme Photo: AFP / Fabrice COFFRINI