If you’re longing for past days of free luggage check-ins and ample weight allowance, you’re wasting your time.
Overhead bins are too small. Airlines want to check your bags to speed up the boarding process and earn billions in luggage fees.
Frontier Airlines recently announced that it’ll start charging $25 for carry-ons on certain fares, while United Airlines announced it will begin cracking down on oversized carry-ons.
And it turns out there’s a lot more to the luggage conflict.
U.S. airline passengers have good reason for their lack of civility when it comes to airline baggage, consumer advocate Christopher Elliot wrote in USA Today. But, fixing the problem will require a combined effort by travelers, airlines and agents.
For instance, stuffing backpacks, coats and other personal items in limited overhead bin space is making the tedious boarding and deplaning process even more hellish and time-consuming.
“That causes the forward bins to quickly fin, meaning that passengers seated toward the front are forced to travel backward down the aisle to stow their belongings,” Patrick Smith, author of Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel, told USA Today.
Another reason for overcrowded bin space is the fear of checked baggage getting lost. Passengers began accustomed to schlepping everything on-board, but less luggage is being lost by domestic airlines. The Department of Transportation reported that 3.22 bags were lost or misplaced last year per 1,000 passenger enplanements, about half as many as in 2007. But, this could have something to do with less bags being checked overall, as most domestic airlines stopped including a checked bag in the fare years ago.
“This shift has led to limited space for carry-ons and a slowed-down boarding process as passengers attempt to avoid bag fees,” a recent report on airline complaints by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund concluded.
Airlines and travel agents can assist by informing customers of proper etiquette before they board. But, etiquette expert Jodi Smith suggests the old way of doing things is the only way to diffuse the luggage conflict.
“Have airlines include a checked bag in the price of their tickets,” she told USA Today.
Let Jetblue and Southwest serve as examples: both include a checked bag in their fares and still manage to make a profit, not to mention retain a reputable customer service.
Threatening to send passengers who overbook to the ticket counter to pay $25 to check their bag will probably make a bad situation worse, whether its preferred by the airlines or not.
Here are Christopher Elliot’s tips to lighten the your luggage load:
After Dana Berry was told her regulation-size bag was “too big,” she decided to downsize her carry-on. “There’s a payoff for economizing,” says Berry, who works for a Little Rock communications firm.
“Those poor unfortunates relegated to boarding group 4 or 5 often have to gate-check all their bags,” says professional speaker and frequent flier Barry Maher. “That causes all additional conflicts while they take out their frustration on the flight attendants and, in some cases, even delay departure.” To avoid that, board early if you can.
Shipping services such as FedEx and UPS, or baggage services such as LugLess.com, can help you bypass airline luggage altogether. LugLess has even publishes a useful cost calculator to help you determine whether shipping your bag makes sense.