Things That Tick Me Off: Airline Baggage Policy

250px-American_Airlines_logo.svgToday, I am starting a new category for purely cathartic purposes: Things That Tick Me Off. The category is designed to reduce the chances of my committing battery or defamation out of an unexpressed frustration. By burdening our blogging community with a gripe, I hope to extend my life and my marriage. Today’s submission is airline baggage policy.

I returned from a speech at the ABA Convention in Chicago this weekend on American Airlines. As is my custom, I checked my bags. Even though the overnight bag would fit in the overhead, I prefer not to face the struggle of the now common sherpa scene of dragging my bags through security and fighting for overhead space. As I have mentioned before, air travel has become positively punishing as flights are delayed due to the large rolling bags brought regularly on to planes.

The airlines made the situation worse when they decided to charge to check even one bag. They initially defended this latest charge as necessitated by fuel costs. However, when costs fell, they (as expected) kept the charge. The rationale was never particularly convincing since the bags go on the same aircraft whether it is in the overhead or the cargo bay. The result was obvious. The number of people bringing their own bags on the plane skyrocketed. Security points are slowed by added luggage and flights delayed — as bags are shoved into the overhead in a free-for-all. While there was a time when you could put a jacket in the overhead, any jacket will now be crushed or torn by the added bags.

None of this, however, is the reason for adding this to “things that tick me off.” I have long given up on airlines extending any concern for the comfort of passengers. Indeed, I have never seen an industry that seems so hostile to its own customers. Indeed, in this case, despite paying a full fare for a coach ticket weeks ago, the airline would not allow me to select a seat — or even purchase a seat with a modicum of room (another favorite new charge in coach). On another airline — Air Canada — they charge you roughly $20 a flight to confirm a particular seat — otherwise to take what they give you at the gate. (Air Canada also sells you a diet coke if you want a drink on the flight).

However, none of that prompted me to write today. What ticked me off on Sunday was an announcement on my flight from O’Hare to National Airport. The flight attendants were faced with the now common overflow of rolling bags, so they announced that anyone who put a brief case or small carryon in the overhead would be required to put the cases under the seat in front of them. The result is that, if you agreed to pay the added charge of checking your bag for the comfort, you are now expected to put your briefcase at your feet to make room for people who want to avoid the charge. With one’s knees already touching the seat in front due to the reduction of space, this means that are left with about an inch of movable space. It also means that you are better off with a large rolling bag than confining yourself to a computer bag.

The announcement reaffirmed why air travel has become so unpopular with many of us. That ticks me off . . . and now I feel better.

46 thoughts on “Things That Tick Me Off: Airline Baggage Policy”

  1. Unless there is no voiding it I never fly domestically anymore. I drive, unless there is an ocean in the way. I like looking at butts at the beach but not in a line at the airport.

    One thing that helps… we keep clothing at our destination so we do not check bags.

  2. I got ticked off at TSA who in their ultimate brillance decided to pull an elderly woman away from her belongings and do several close inspections of her prosthetic hand. This poor woman was upset that she was leaving her belongings unattended and the TSA people ignored her pleas. That organization has no clue what they are looking for and no clue on how to find contraband. They were developed to pretend that we were serious about airline security and to increase our fear. I do not enjoy taking off my shoes and taking off my belt so that these guys can find out if this Irish-Swedish-German American citizen is trying to bring my weapons onto the plane! Go arrest some torturers!

  3. anyone ever flown on COPA? (s. american airline) free alcohol/wine, free soda, free juice (some of the fruit i had never even heard of), free food, free pillows/blankets, free headphones…

    horrifying ongoing movie previews though, and you can’t turn the sound off because it plays out of speakers! (this only happened returning from ecuador to usa) that’s my only complaint though… (besides when landing in panama my eardrums almost exploded from the sudden desent, no one else was affected, though, HA, owww..)

  4. I used to fly from Memphis to Dallas. Now, any trip under 8 hours of car time, I drive. What with TSA idiots, cramped seats,and rude, uncaring airline service, I find it more pleasant to drive. At times, when planes are delayed, the combined travel and preparation time is actually less by car.

    Luckily “The City of New Orleans” runs through Memphis. So, to go to New Orleans, I now take the train. Somewhat slower than flying, but a lot less hassle, no bagage fees, coach seats wider than airline first class, and a real, honest-to-goodness dining car serving real freshly cooked food.

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