Dear Airlines of the US

Oct 23 2012 Published by under Travel

I flew last week on a carrier that was not my usual one. As a Premier member, I get early boarding on United; on American, I was in the last group on the plane. This only becomes an issue because of overhead baggage space. For a 3-day weekend, we did not need or want to check bags. Every flight, we had to fight for those last spaces for the roll-aboards.

I can solve this problem for the airlines. Really, it could be pretty easy. Since stowing bags is a major factor slowing the boarding process, everyone might be happier.

Image from Amazon

Charge for roll-aboards. Yup, all travelers get a personal item that fits under the seat in front of them - purse, laptop case, whatever. Give your frequent fliers the perk of a free roll-aboard in the overhead bin. Let everyone have a free checked bag, but make them pay for a roll-aboard. For the convenience of not awaiting my luggage, I would have gladly shelled out $50 each way this past weekend. To have you juggle and potentially lose my bags? Not so much. Have too many people paying for overhead space? Have your computer shunt them to the free checked bag alternative during the check-in process.

A lot of folks will choose to check if the alternative is $25 per bag. Getting on and off the aircraft will go much more smoothly.

At least think about it.

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14 responses so far

  • becca says:

    Checking a bag planeside is free, but I think the airlines should pay people to check their bags planeside if they run out of overhead space. Heck, free inflight snacks could probably do it. That has the advantage of not being yet another way for people with money to get better treatment (really, if you're that annoyed by fighting for overhead space, why not fly first class?).

    • whizbang says:

      Paying for first class essentially doubles the ticket price; $25 per leg for the convenience of carry-on is a reasonable fee for my convenience. Make it too much more and no one will carry-on.

  • AD says:

    "Since stowing bags is a major factor slowing the boarding process, everyone might be happier."

    So quicken the boarding process but have passengers wait at the luggage carousels after deplaning? In my experience, the problem of finding space for a carry-on has never delayed any flights. It's not about passenger convenience or happiness for the airlines, especially for passengers that are not frequent fliers with them such as you in this case. It's about the bottom line. Free checked bags means people will bring crap they don't need since they have a whole lot of space. This means heavier cargo on the planes which translates to greater fuel consumption and increased costs. Airlines would rather deal with 10 whining passengers who board last than suffer increased costs due to overloaded planes.

    Your idea certainly doesn't solve anything for the airlines, and also doesn't solve anything for a majority of the passengers who get their overhead space anyway.

    • whizbang says:

      I'm not suggesting unlimited checked luggage, merely that they try to shift the bag from the overhead compartment to the luggage bin. Multiple bags will still incur costs, as they do now. The net amount of luggage will remain the same.

      Given the amount of yelling and policing the attendants were doing as we tried to board Sunday, the full overhead compartments are causing problems. They were offering free gate checking because they knew they did not have room for everything. I see this over and over again. Once you get to your seat, if your bag doesn't fit you have to swim upstream to gate check it or find someway to balance out of the way so folks can pass by. Most often, you have to stand there and block entry until someone rescues you. Given the importance airlines give to on time take-offs, and the amount of effort the attendants spend luggage wrangling, I cannot believe that shifting the luggage from the passenger cabin to the luggage area would not benefit the overall mood and chaos as people board.

      Finally, you will have people having to wait for luggage. The airlines would rather report on time push-offs; they do not have to report how long we wait for luggage. It should benefit their stats.

  • DrugMonkey says:

    You unaware they use the space below for non passenger paying cargo?

    • AD says:

      Well they still make money off that to offset the costs -- that's the point.

    • whizbang says:

      They are passenger services, not freight services; the convenience and comfort of the passengers should be first.
      Extra capacity for cargo is fine, but it should not compromise their "primary" business.

      • DrugMonkey says:

        Their "primary" business is "staying in business" Pascale. Do you think all this stuff is driven by a desire to annoy you personally? It's a careful dance of balancing passenger annoyance against people's willingness to purchase a certain price ticket.

        Me, I think the whole bunch of you carryon fucknuts should pay three times the fare.

  • theshortearedowl says:

    Have to say, I completely disagree. I use my carry-on for things that I can't risk being checked - laptops, camera equipment, etc. Now everyone has these roll-aboards the size - to my mind - of a suitcase, I have to worry every flight about being forced to gate-check. The airlines should reduce the max carry-on size to something that means everyone has enough room. If you need a suitcase, bring a suitcase and check it!

  • Constance Reader says:

    You don't have to charge for anything. It would go more smoothly if:

    1) flight attendants actually enforced the two bag rule.

    2) flight attendants called out the dicks who put both bags in the overhead or put their jackets in the overhead.

    3) airlines adopted a rule that, if your roller bag must be turned sideways to fit in the overhead, it's too big for carryon. A sideways bag takes up more than twice the space of a bag stored lengthwise.

  • TheThirdReviewer says:

    I'm waiting for the day when we board an insert in the terminal that can just be slid into the plane as it pulls in. The one that was just carried from wherever slides out, new passengers slide in, the plane is fuled, and off you go. There is less of a bottleneck boarding because people show up at different times and a gate agent can sort out any luggage concerns.

  • chall says:

    I think the key thing would be as previously mentioned

    Enforce the rules! One bag per person (plus handbag/computer bag) and if it's not the correct SIZE it does not go on. Just because you can fit it - the wrong way in the on top - doesn't mean you should take up all the other space....

    I think they should bring back the "measure your bag here" containers they had in the ancient times when I was small.

  • D. C. Sessions says:

    My solution (from when I traveled a lot more) is to lock the overheads on takeoff and only unlock them on landing when the passengers who don't need to get into the overheads have left the plane.

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