LONDON, November 7 /PRNewswire/ --

Britain's strongest men could face their toughest task yet when they attempt to persuade air travellers to pack lighter this Monday (10th November). The men will be on hand at two of the UK's busiest airports, Heathrow and Manchester, to help passengers to guess the weight of their luggage before they check-in as part of a three-pronged campaign by Unite, the UK's biggest union, to urge travellers to cut the weight of airport baggage to 23kg.

Unite says that heavy bags are causing millions of passengers to face extra charges for failing to travel light, and could be contributing to the accidents and injuries caused by workers shifting heavy bags. Passengers that do Lighten Up will also be helping the environment as lighter planes mean less fuel which in turn means fewer harmful co2 emissions.

'Lighten Up' will be launched by Britain's strongest men, Rob Frampton at Heathrow Airport 's Terminal 2 at 10am and Laurence Shahlaie at Terminal I/Check In, Manchester Airport from 6am, both on Monday, 10th November. The strong men will be highlighting to passengers that there is no standard weight over which airlines charge for excess or amount changed per kilogram. For example, a family of four travelling within Europe on a return ticket with one bag each weighing 23 kilograms could pay anything between zero excess at British Airways, up to GBP254 at Easyjet and a whopping GBP948 at low cost airline, Ryanair. Unite officials and representatives will also be on hand, and joined by local MPs, to encourage travellers to travel light by following their 23 tips for 23kg guide.

Steve Turner, Unite national officer, said: Last minute charges levied at the departure gate for excess baggage can hit cash - conscious holiday makers hard. The way airlines charge for luggage is bewildering and varies enormously from carrier to carrier so our advice to the travelling public is wisen up and 'Lighten up'. Spend your money aboard not getting there.

Two years ago the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Aviation Industry Committee agreed to reduce the weight of checked-in baggage from 32 to 23 kilograms per item. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) has also backed the call.

However, Unite is concerned that revenue-hungry, recession-hit airlines may be tempted by excess charges to passengers and so not motivated to get behind the new safe 23kg limit.

Heavy bags cause problems for everybody. They cost the public dear, boost harmful co2 emissions and contribute to the injuries suffered by airline baggage staff. Most people think that baggage handling is fully automated. The reality is that a bag can be lifted up to a dozen times on a journey, added Steve Turner.

A third and equally important message from Unite's 'Lighten Up' campaign is the positive effect lighter luggage will have on global warming. Lighter bags equal lighter planes resulting in less fuel use and lower carbon admissions.

Notes to Editors:

- Britain's Strongest Men will be on hand at Heathrow and Manchester airports to launch the Lighten Up campaign. The media are invited to attend the launch events. Details are as follows: Heathrow Terminal 2 from 10am; Manchester Terminal 1 Check-in from 8am-11am. Photographs will be available from the Unite media office.

- Baggage handlers are five times more like to suffer muscular skeletal injury than any other worker in the UK according to the HSE.

- If every passenger on a Boeing 747 travelled with 23 kg not 32kg it would be the same as removing around 30 private cars from the road for a year.

- Excess luggage charges now levied by airlines could cost a holidaying family of four nearly GBP500.

For further information contact: Unite press officer, Liane Groves +44(0)7793-661-657 or Unite national officer for Aviation Steve Turner +44(0)7980721423