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Luggage enforcement and entitlement

This article showed up on my Facebook feed this morning, it's a warning that Air Canada is getting stricter about enforcing carry-on size.

Other than that there isn't anything earth shattering in the article. But what struck me was some of the comments on the Facebook version. There were the usual "about time" and "the airlines shouldn't charge for luggage," comments, but some of the entitlement comments made such as "I'll bring what I want and store it how I like," were surprising. That is my pet-peeve; people who spread their multiple items into an overhead and take up an entire bin. That's one thing I haven't enjoyed about flying post-pandemic, is the battle for overhead space. But, maybe I'm someone else's pet-peeve because I've become the bin police and I'll rearrange their stuff so my suitcase fits, and so be it if someone's fancy floppy-hat doesn't gets its own place of honor taking up half a bin.

I asked this question in the Forum pre-pandemic 3 years ago, but since attitudes and travelling has changed since then, I wonder if carry-on attitudes have also changed. Should we blame the airlines for not regularly enforcing the rules, or the passengers for not obeying the rules? I sense it's a battle the airlines want no part of because they feel there is no happy result.

Posted by
602 posts

“ Should we blame the airlines for not regularly enforcing the rules, or the passengers for not obeying the rules?”

In my opinion, both, but especially the airline. They have rules, they should enforce them. Otherwise, what's the point? There are simply some people, a minority, but an annoying minority, who won't do the right thing unless forced to; so be it. When I am waiting to board and I see oversized luggage ahead of me just breezing by the gate personnel…well, let's just say it irks me. Unfortunately, online checkin has made this worse, I think. If we still had to checkin in person (which I am not advocating), presumably oversized luggage would not make it to the gate. So, I think the airlines need to do more to prevent abuses of their policies.

Posted by
8597 posts

Kind of a chicken/egg question, isn't it? It's even a problem on Southwest Airlines, where checked bags are free. It's the airlines' indifference to customer complaints regarding this problem that I find maddening. I've never seen this problem listed in any customer service survey.

The only time I've ever seen it "addressed" was by a small regional domestic airline I flew often, in an announcement years ago to frequent fliers. It said something like "we've heard your complaints about small bin space for your carryons, so the good news is we're making the bins bigger". So guess what, people started bringing more and bigger carryons.

Posted by
5952 posts

I'm always quite good about not exceeding carry on rules. One rolling suitcase and one small backpack, and when I check my small suitcase, I still typically put my backpack under the seat as I use it as a footrest. It has always really annoyed me that people carry on more than allowed and then rush into the boarding line so they can store all their stuff in the bins. Then, there was one time where I had a small bag in addition to that allowed and made sure I could board among the first in my group. I guess I felt "entitled" for all the times that I've followed the rules. I felt like a jerk, to be honest. I told the guy behind me in line that I felt guilty, and he didn't say anything. Not sure if he agreed or just didn't care. There were no issues with stowing my stuff even with the full plane, but I've just tried to be extra careful since then, because I just felt so guilty!

I think I would attribute the fault to the passengers and the airlines. It seems quite simple, allow those that want to, to check a bag. Then enforce the carry on rules.

Posted by
19151 posts

I agree that airlines should not be allowed to charge, at least not $30 per bag, for checking a bag.

I've often said that in the free-market system, the only way to make more than a mediocre profit is to find a way to charge customers more than they expect to pay or give them less than they expect to get. Getting restaurant customers to pay part of the labor cost (tip) is one example. I wouldn't mind airlines charging for checked bags if their charge were their actual cost of transporting bags to the plane and storing them, plus the same profit margin they make on the ticket.

What if we made airlines post the price of a ticket including one checked bag and then reduce the ticket price for any passenger who didn't check a bag, do you really believe that airlines would reduce the price by $30 for anyone who didn't check a bag?

And, since I always carry on, you people who check bags are subsidizing my ticket, but I still don't think it's fair.

Posted by
19151 posts

What the airlines should do is put the sizer right at the gate, and make everyone show that their bag fits the sizer. Any bag that doesn't fit has to be gate checked, at 50% more than the checked bag rate, or it will be checked on the next plane to the same destination.

Alternatively, anyone with a non-complying bag has to wait until all of the people with complying bags have boarded before they can board.

Some people (probably those who try to take on oversized carry-on) will complain that having everyone check their bag size at boarding will delay the process, but the extra time spent checking compliance at the gate will probably be offset by quicker seating (no hunting around for a space in the overhead bins).

I once boarded a Lufthansa flight in Düsseldorf, and all the passenger who checked in at Düsseldorf had green tags on their carry-on luggage, showing that it had been checked and passed. Have a size check station at the gate where people can get their carry-ons prechecked and tagged. Those people get to board before those who haven't been pre-checked.

Lastly, a big problem is people carrying on bags that are too big, vertically, so they won't fit into the partition long dimension across the cabin. They put them in sideways, and they take up most of the 31" allotted to that row.

Have the flight attendant do a sweep of the cabin just before takeoff. Any bag not stowed properly (i.e., with the long dimension across the cabin) gets taken off and gate check. The person to whom the bag belongs can pick it up at baggage claim, after paying the gate check fee.

If bins were partitioned into 9"-10" inch wide spaces, there would be more than enough of these spaces to accommodate everyone. Each seat would be assigned to one such space. A regulation bag for most airlines would fit into each space, long dimension across the cabin, bag width vertical, thickness between partitions.

Posted by
18550 posts

I'M for giving the gate agents $20 for every non-compliant bag they catch. And if you require every ticket come with 1 checked bag, then I am paying for a checked bag I don't need. More fair you pay only for what you need or want. There is no bait and switch, the rules and costs are generally well presented. What? You are going to charge me because someone can't read?

Posted by
4243 posts

I'M for giving the gate agents $20 for every non-compliant bag they

Isn't that what is getting Frontier Airlines in trouble right now? The gatekeepers are getting a commission for checked bags and some of the reports are that some are being less than honest. Maybe it's the passengers complaining because they got caught, but it's a fight I don't think the airlines want to have.

Posted by
18550 posts

and some of the reports are that some are being less than honest.

Hadn't read that. Have read more along the lines of they "could" be dishonest. Which I think can be said of anyone in any business.

Nope, I stick with the concept. Tired of having to worry if my one legal bag is going to fit, especially since I fly "basic" and board last. Or that i should have to spend more on my ticket because someone wont follow the rules. Besides, with a dree checked bag, little if sny will change.

First time, your bag gets checked and you get charged. Second time, repeat, third time you and the bag go to cargo and the gate agent gets a Hat Trick $100 bonus.

Posted by
272 posts

Even with loose enforcement, it is much better than it used to be when everyone could bring on as much as they could carry.

Especially during the holidays you'd see people getting on with a suitcase, couple of tote-bags and 3 or 4 shopping bags crammed with gifts.

Posted by
905 posts

For years, I have thought that the airlines should charge for the carry-ons with free ride for the checked. I would certainly pay for the privilege of having my bag with me at all times and not subject to last minute gate check. Open to corrections to my logic!

I have begun paying extra to board early. Avoiding the baggage area at the end of a flight is worth the payment and risk of forced gate check. I also generally fly with one bag under 22 inches, more like 20 -21. I fits under the seat in most aircraft. I have taken this overseas for up to 3 weeks with hiking and swimming gear as well as clothes for 2 climates. It does take organizing, but is worth the effort.

I've noticed more non-compliant than compliant bag carriers in recent trips. Really irritates me. Why should those shopping bags, and the overstuffed roll aboard and your tote bag plus shoulder purse have precedence over my compliant small carry-on?

Final thought - any professional musicians on this thread? Several types of instrument cases fit the overall dimensions allowed for carry-on instrument. Shape of the case precludes any storage other than aligned the length of the compartment. This is technically allowable, but if not boarding early, often requires rearranging already stowed luggage which I prefer not to do. I got to traveling Business on certain routes just to alleviate some of the headaches and worry about storage in Economy. Travelers are generally treated better in Business, you might actually get some courtesy.

Frontier does seem to be enforcing sizer boxes and checked baggage/carry-on/underseat bags and charges. The boarding pass states “no carry-on” or “checked bag” or “carry-on” based on whether or not luggage fees have been paid. Size and weight is checked also. Where my family observed “abuses” is people sneaking their underseat bags into overhead bins. At this point, people have boarded, the attendants are busy, and I think the attendants are trained to keep tensions down and minimize conflict. In other words - to pick and choose their battles based on safety and customer service.

My latest peeve just happened last week at Orlando Airport. My husband paid round-trip for his checked bag with frontier. New protocol. Client now has to print his/her own luggage tag from a kiosk (within a certain time frame). You have to place the label on the luggage yourself. I didn’t want to mess-up the label and asked a check-in clerk to help me attach the computer label. I was told I had to do it myself or there would be a $10 fee. ???? My husband already paid an extra $136 for a checked bag round trip. Shouldn’t printing and attaching the computer label be included in that price! Frontier’s fees and protocols just keep getting worse every time we fly them (over the past few years). It takes an education to decipher Frontier airline baggage policy. If anyone is interested, I can post a tutorial here on Frontier baggage policy and save you the hassle of figuring it out.

Posted by
4438 posts

It's human nature:; many people will do whatever the airlines let them get away with.

Posted by
22 posts

Regarding putting a smaller backpack in the overhead bin: I was flying a short Hawaiian Airlines flight on a small plane from the Big Island to Maui. I checked my carryon-sized bag, but carried my “personal item” onto the plane, a RS Civita daypack. I put it into the overhead bin and put my purse under the seat. The flight attendant saw my daypack in the overhead bin, and proceeded to chew me out for putting it up there instead of under my seat. I pushed back. I said, “I paid $30 to check my carryon bag. I should be allowed to put my much smaller pack over my seat.” She just looked at me with a disgusted expression and moved on. I figured she was feeling understandably harried because of all the other people who were overloading the bins and took it out on me when she saw the small bag up there.

Posted by
18550 posts

Once the door is closed, if the bin has room, I might put my personal item in it. I did get stopped once. I said yes ma'am and put it back under the seat.

Each airline has different policies for baggage. On Frontier, the only free item is the underseat bag and limited to 1 per person. Anything going into the overhead bin has a charge and checked bags are charged.

Posted by
109 posts

If Air Canada could be trusted not to lose checked luggage, fewer travelers would bring oversized carry-ons!

Posted by
5647 posts

What the airlines should do is put the sizer right at the gate, and make everyone show that their bag fits the sizer.

If they did that, no flight would ever leave on time.

Actually, Frontier airline puts the bag sizer boxes at both the check-in counters and at the gate. The employees do make people place their bags in the sizers. Some customers had to gate check their bags for a stiff fee.

Posted by
2156 posts

As someone that 99% of the time does carryon only, and abides by the rules, it is frustrating. I try to just ignore it. Thankfully most people I see do follow the rules so it has not been a big deal on the flights I have been on. There have been times I wondered how the people even managed to drag it all through the airport though, but that is their problem not mine. I would be all for having a sizer box at the gate.

Posted by
8597 posts

On one overseas flight (I think it was Delta), they were checking carryon bag size at the gate. One family, obviously in trouble, stood aside, and shifted stuff out of each of their bags from one person to the other, so that one person could pass, and then the family would give her the extra stuff from their bags so they could each pass in turn. Someone always finds a way to get around the rules.

Wow Stan,
That seems like a merry-go-round of work. I would be off to the side and figuring out what can be shifted around or thrown out until all bags passed on their own.

Posted by
18550 posts

Lufthansa and Austrian Air were both measuring and weighing carryon bags at the gate at BUD yesterday. 🥳🥳🥳🥳 Quite a few people, but not enough, had to pay to check their bags. It happens, I know, I live here.

Posted by
1194 posts

I recently flew on Air Canada and saw this happen. In several cases the bags were wayyyy over sized. In a few cases people were essentially bringing two carry on bags instead of a carry on bag plus personal item.

I believe several things are going on:
* Southwest allows for a larger carry on bag. People think that this transfers to other airlines
* Air Canada hasn’t been enforcing this as much during the pandemic
* People don’t read the web site on bag sizes
* People think that just because they got away with it “last time” it translates to permission this time.
* People truly don’t know how to pack lighter and go into wishful thinking mode with their carry on. They then panic when caught and get belligerent.

In my case I purposely packed an underseat bag. I knew the bins would be full. I also knew I would be along the last to board (cheap tix). It took a lot of planning to get my bag to that size, especially since I was bringing full winter gear.

BTW, there wasn’t room in the overhead and I did have to put my bag under the seat.

Hi Sempre,
I know your question was directed at Cindy. I use underseat bags. Here are some tips. 1) Check out the luggage requirement for your specific airline. 2). Do you need an over-shoulder tote, backpack, or wheeled bag? 3). Weight and dimensions airline requires. 4). Will your underseat bag be used as primary piece of luggage or daypack or both? 5). Packing Cubes? 6). Computer?

There are many options here, depending on your packing needs and physical ability.

If this is going to be your main bag for clothing - I recommend looking at zip-top bags with primarily one main compartment and just a few external pockets for organization. Then, use packing cubes for compression and ease of packing and organization. Here are just a few examples: RedOxx Mutt (if you can handle the weight) with a shoulder strap added; LL Bean zip-top tote; Wandf bags or similar on; Patagonia Ultra Light-Weight Tote Pack; CabinZero Military 28L bag (note: it expands from listed dimensions to maximum underseat size), etc..

Posted by
602 posts

Ciao Sun-baked in Florida,

Thanks for the tips and recommendations for under the seat bags. In the past I've taken month-long trips, using my ebags Mother Lode, which was perfect. But any future trips will probably only be a couple of weeks, so I'm thinking about trying a much smaller bag. Appreciate your help. Enjoy your travels.

Posted by
1194 posts

Sempre Italia,

I used the ULA Dragonfly. It squishes well. It has an amazing harness system.

I had all my winter clothes in it, as well as all my cold weather gear. It was my one and only bag.

The internal capacity is at 24.5 liters, plus it has a few net pockets too.

Posted by
2764 posts

I have always thought that the airlines need to start doubling the "checked bag fee" for someone who shows up at the gate with an oversized "carry on" There are lots of flyers who have figured out that lugging tons of junke through the airport means they don't have to pay for checked bags because they can "gate check" for free. (The Delta Station Manger in Nashville YEARS ago tried to stop this by letting everyone know that "gate checked" bags will go on the next flight, but Delta made him stop after the elite flyers whined like toddlers) And the gate agents should enforce the carryon rules, but if you had to deal with toddlers dressed like adults throwing HISSY FITS thousands of times a day you'd probably give up too!

And sadly the worst people with the "The rules don't apply to me" are the elite level flyers. I've been one. I get on with other passengers with 4 carryons because "DYKWIA" is in full cry! I've actually been scolded by these "jerks" for putting my personal item under the seat in front of me because "those rules don't apply to everyone" (These are the same idiots who yell at me at security for taking my shoes off which I do because I know from past experience they have metal in them and will set off the alarm... I generaly turn around and tell the 'expert' that "I am doing this so I won't delay you, my shoes will set off the alarm". The best part is when they get stopped because they did not take the $100 in coins and the two cell phones out of their pocket and have to go back through security, I just look at them and smile... they know what i am thinking, most of them do at least look sheepish! )

Posted by
2619 posts

I have only done actual carry-on twice on short non-stop trips to London--once I easily put my rolling bag over my seat, the other I had to go a few rows back. My other item was a purse. Otherwise I prefer to check a suitcase and bring on-board a RS Euro Flight Bag--if there's room I like to put it overhead, but it can also go easily under the seat...just doesn't leave room to stretch my legs much. I also grow weary of people bringing far too much/too big cases on board and airlines only randomly seem interested in doing anything about it.