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Travelers' prerogative, or not

Last week I was flying the Grand Rapids to Minneapolis run. First off a shout out to both airports for minimal delays despite periods of falling snow on either end-- it's the same jet going back and forth all day. This is a Delta Connection service run by one of the affiliated regional companies, not Delta staff.

Flight was an Embraer RJ. When this jet was first introduced it had spacious seating, but now they jam in the seats so it's worse than an airbus. For example if I drop a pen or phone I cannot reach down to retrieve it from the floor during flight. As a taller person I need all of the space under the seat in front of me just for my ankles and feet.

So probably 15 times they announced that all small items must be placed under the seat in front of you and not in the overhead bins, starting before boarding in the gate area, then repeated again and again onboard. The offer was repeatedly made to check bags for free, both in the boarding area and onboard. They even said that the bins were intended for roller bags only and that small items were correctly placed below the seat in front. And I'm thinking, no, that's a lie, the proper place for roller bags is in the hold under the seats, the overhead bins are first come first served.

I checked my larger bag, and I had a computer bag and a small backpack which I stacked in the bin for the flight, forcing someone to check a bag who wanted to carry it on. No one asked me to move them, and I feel that was my right to leave them there, agree?

Posted by
1663 posts

A small correction - CRJ stands for Canadair Regional Jet a designation introduced by Bombardier ... Bombardier sold the CRJ business to Mitsubishi and are now designated as Mitsubishi RJ. Embraer does not use that acronym.

Posted by
11117 posts

Yes. I agree. You needed to put your feet somewhere and it's difficult to get them in an overhead bin, lol. Used to fly the CRJs out of Lewiston ID to SLC with the same back and forth deal during the day so understand the model you are describing.

I actually thought your post was going to be about people, in spite of repeated exhortations by staff, putting stupid stuff in the overhead bins and then having to move them. I saw this on an Air France flight from CDG to Milan in September with people laying out jackets in the overhead bins, putting hats up there, etc. The flight was full and I have never seen such full overhead bins. I was able to board early on so did not have a problem with room for my bag.

Posted by
6460 posts

Here is my thoughts on this. A person should not have an advantage because they chose to bring a roller bag on board over someone with a different sort of carryon, particularly when the option to gate check for free is available. On the other hand, if I can fit both my feet and my soft carryon under the seat, I will do so. Sometimes I can and sometimes I can’t.

When airlines start consistently enforcing what size and how many carryons are allowed, then I will worry about placing my carryon in the overhead bin. I watch far too many people with fully expanded roller bags and a soft sided carryon and a personal item or two board to worry about the space my one small soft carryon takes.

Posted by
5170 posts

I’ve taken several of these types of flights, too. If I have a suitcase & a small backpack, I place the suitcase in the overhead bin & have my backpack at my feet. Yes, next to no room for my feet! After take-off, sometimes it’s more comfortable to place my backpack behind the back of my legs to slip my feet farther under the seat. Luckily those flights are usually about an hour.

The reason I don’t want to gate check my carry on suitcase is due to the delay when we have to retrieve it in the ramp as we step out of the plane. Most of those flights are very tight connections, not other options, and I would miss my next flight. If it’s my last flight of the day, then I’m fine gate-checking my suitcase.

Since your overhead space equaled a carry on, Tom, it’s good they didn’t force you to move them.

Posted by
5679 posts

Absolutely agree with you, Tom, especially as another vertical person. You paid to check the larger bag, right? Even though you shouldn't have had to. The airlines' long-ago decision to charge for checked bags is why boarding takes so long and overheads are crammed full. The space under the seat is for your feet and maybe a small item. (I take off my shoes and store them there, but don't tell anyone.)

Posted by
2660 posts

Once on a flight, I checked my roller bag, and carried on a big purse and a small backpack. I put the backpack in the overhead bin, and my purse under the seat in front of me. During boarding, a flight attendant pulled out my backpack, gave me the stink eye, and asked if I could please put it under the seat in front of me. I just pointed at the space and said it wouldn't fit.

I see people putting smaller items in the bins all the time, without putting anything under the seat. When it comes to overhead space, it always seems to me like it's every man for himself - which is why I usually check my roller bag.

Posted by
1663 posts

Irrespective of the messaging from the cabin crew - when I pay to check a bag, I buy the right to stow my carry-on daypack in the overhead bin above my seat ... case closed.

Posted by
292 posts

Same here. Recent flight on Austrian air where they asked if my small shoulder bag was carry on. So they marked it with a blue tag. Then on the plane a flight attendant told me that should be under the seat. 6’1” here so I need all the space I can get. I said, so I get penalized on space for the sake of someone’s unchecked bag. I said I would leave it there until such time as more space may be needed. It was not.
I took off the blue tag, and will do so in the future before boarding.
The entire premise of leaving room for bags overhead when you could have checked it and have me and others have to squish our small bags under the seat is wrong.

Posted by
6460 posts

I just heard from a friend who is traveling today. She checked her suitcase and had a small backpack (her carryon) and a purse (personal item) which she carried on the plane. The gate agent insisted that she put her purse inside the backpack before allowing her to board. Makes no sense as she was well within the stated allowances. On board, she separated them and placed them both in the area under the seat in front. Nothing was put in the overhead bin.

My point is, that no matter how well you plan, you may always be at the mercy of a gate agent or a flight attendant that has a unique interpretation of the rules. It does no one any good to get upset. Keep your meds/valuables with you and be ready to flex if required to do so.

Posted by
423 posts

Flew Ryan air in Europe recently - they had 2 fare classes - basic - with only a personal item and an a more expensive version which included a carry on bag.

At the gate there was no seating- there were 2 queues one for each fare type. The gate attendant went along the queue which hadn't paid for a carry on bag - and pulled out several who clearly had one and made them pay (its far more expensive at this stage). It worked perfectly - there was plenty of room in the overheads. Obviously those who didn't need have a carry on bag boarded last

Posted by
7368 posts

I used to fly the CRJs quite often, and it seemed to me that the bins were so small that many roller bags would not even fit, end first. They had to go in sideways, so that one roller bag could take up almost the whole bin.

I don't know why the airlines chose to ignore this one major annoyance - unenforced carryon rules. They can fix that without reconfiguring aircraft.

Posted by
33 posts

I agree Tom. I find it really annoying when travelling with a backpack or bag that is way under the allowed size to have no room overhead to place it. I’ve been in the situation where we have been travelling as a family of 4 with one backpack between us, and on boarding the whole space above that row and adjacent areas is taken up with large wheeled cases. Just because ours could be squashed underneath a seat, we’re expected to have an uncomfortable trip. Grr

Posted by
8176 posts

A person should not have an advantage because they chose to bring a roller bag on board over someone with a different sort of carryon, particularly when the option to gate check for free is available.

This this this this this

And this as well !

I find it really annoying when travelling with a backpack or bag that is way under the allowed size to have no room overhead to place it.

And this !

when I pay to check a bag, I buy the right to stow my carry-on daypack in the overhead bin above my seat ... case closed.

Finally: Tom, as Pam said, you couldn't put your legs and feet up in the overhead ! You were well within your rights to place your items up there.

Posted by
1935 posts

You can have my space in the bin. I’m short, so I can fit my stuff under the seat and sometimes it’s more comfortable to have something to rest my feet on (didn’t they used to have some kind of foot rest bar?). No one chooses to be short or tall, so I’m happy to do what I can for someone else’s comfort.

Posted by
3941 posts

Almost unanimous, there was another post deleted about how rude I had been. However if everyone was as rude as me and checked their large bag the planes would load and unload so quickly (ref: any Southwest flight) and everyone would get there sooner and the airlines could turn around jets faster and make higher profits (ref: Southwest), oh well.

Gate checking: It’s been ages for me since a gate checked bag wasn’t delivered to baggage claim, ask if you think there’s a risk of standing in the jetway with the stroller people. When I don’t have the airline credit card or my work is paying to check a bag, I carry my roller bag to the gate for free checking, works every time.

I’m unaware of the colored tags used for carry ons in Europe, will have to deal with that in August I guess, haven’t seen that before.

Incidentally, touring the Meyer May house designed by Frank Lloyd Wright in Grand Rapids was one of my top 50 USA sightseeing attractions ever (including national parks and major museums) and I have seen a lot, and it’s free.

Posted by
14475 posts

MY contract with the airline and federal law both dictate that I do what the flight crew instructs.

Little room for my personal prerogative.

Because the flight crew has a hard enough job without having to deal with certain types and chooses to gate check a bag doesn't change the contract I have or the law.

Imagine how much easier flying would be if everyone followed the rules.

I'm no saint, but I would have made room for the other passenger (do onto others as ...), but I do recognize when I transgress and hold myself responsible.

Posted by
2491 posts

Fair enough, Mister E. However…..

I usually check a bag and often put my small bag/backpack overhead if the under the seat space is small - ignoring announcements to the contrary. While I would not argue with an individual request from a flight attendant, I am perfectly willing to accept responsibility for the fact that I may be transgressing by placing my small bag overhead. I also am accepting the risk (and time) involved in checking a legally-sized carryon suitcase so that I take up less overhead bin space.

It might be considered my small act of civil disobedience rather than my prerogative…..

Posted by
1663 posts

The last time I was called upon to claim ownership of my nicely placed daypack in the overhead bin, directly above my seat, was when a flight attendant along with a passenger in her early 60's carrying and tugging along 4 bags of various dimensions, asked who was the owner and could I put it under the seat in front of me. I told the attendant that I paid to check a bag and there was no way in H that I was taking away my legroom. The attendant made no reply and moved along to irritate someone else.

Posted by
2881 posts

Imagine how much easier flying would be if everyone followed the
rules.

Who's responsibility should it ultimately come down to, the passenger to follow the rules or the airline to enforce them? I'm often frustrated by both.

Posted by
3941 posts

MY contract with the airline and federal law both dictate that I do what the flight crew instructs.

Federal Law: When federal law has been researched by others it has been determined that following crew instructions is restricted to safety items and enforcement of federal laws like no smoking and wearing seat belts, not everything that the crew requests.

For example, I was flying American in July and they requested all window shades be lowered when on the ground to keep the sun from heating up the plane. I did it but I was under no federal or civil obligation to do so.

(do onto others as ...)

This is an instance of a person demanding my discomfort for another’s trivial convenience. I absolutely never would do that to another person.

Posted by
12275 posts

L
Just prior to the pandemic, I was on a regional flight in the US. I was first to board except for an off duty, in uniform, flight attendant who was sitting in the second row. I was in the first row. This type of aircraft only has an overhead bin on one side.

I went to put my bag in the bin across from my seat but the FA had three bags and took up the entire bin. I asked her if she could move one bag so I could get my bag in. She ignored me. She heard me but she wouldn't even look at me.

I had to ask the on duty fight attendant for help. She wanted to put my bag five rows back. I said no, that would cause delays with people getting off and why should an off duty flight attendant get to take up an entire bin while paying customers are inconvenienced. Others boarding joined in as the flight was nearly full.

The on duty FA stacked some of the off duty FA's bags so others could use the bin. She was not happy.

Posted by
1071 posts

Contract of carriage: Delta has no clause about any customer behavior requirements or expectations.

Untrue, passenger "conduct" and "behavior" are specifically mentioned in Delta's CoC...

"Delta may refuse to transport any passenger, or may remove any passenger from its aircraft, when refusal to transport or removal of the passenger is reasonably necessary in Delta’s sole discretion for the passenger’s comfort or safety, for the comfort or safety of other passengers or Delta employees, or for the prevention of damage to the property of Delta or its passengers or employees. By way of example, and without limitation, Delta may refuse to transport or may remove passengers from its aircraft in any of the following situations:

1) When the passenger’s conduct is disorderly, abusive or violent, or the passenger appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs;

2) When the passenger is barefoot;

3) When the passenger interferes with the flight crew’s activities, or fails to obey the instruction of any member of the flight crew;

4) When the passenger has a contagious disease that may be transmissible to other passengers during the normal course of the flight;

5) When the passenger is unable to sit in a seat with the seatbelt fastened;

6) When the passenger’s behavior may be hazardous or creates a risk of harm to himself/herself, the crew, or other passengers or to the Carrier’s aircraft and/or property, or the property of other passengers;

7) When the passenger is seriously ill, unless the passenger provides a physician's written permission to fly; or

8) When the passenger’s conduct, attire, hygiene or odor creates an unreasonable risk of offense or annoyance to other passengers.

G) Recourse of Passenger

Passengers shall not engage in any conduct that would authorize Delta to refuse transport under this Rule. The sole recourse of any passenger refused carriage or removed for any reason specified in this Rule shall be recovery of the refund value of the unused portion of his or her ticket as provided in Rule 22."

https://www.delta.com/us/en/legal/contract-of-carriage-dgr/#7re

Posted by
1663 posts

Delta would be on real thin ice, in a court room, discussing their handling / mishandling of carry on bags.

Posted by
1071 posts

Delta would be on real thin ice, in a court room, discussing their handling / mishandling of carry on bags.

  1. I wasn't arguing they wouldn't be, just noting the erroneous statement about Delta's CoC not mentioning customer behavior.

  2. However, I think it is important to gauge your audience, so to speak, when dealing with flight attendants in these situations. It is not unknown for someone to catch a member of the crew having a bad day, refusing their request, and then having a conversation with the pilot. If they deem you're behavior to be disruptive (ie, it's not about the luggage, but your behavior), they can remove you from the flight "at their sole discretion". Sure, you might get some recourse afterwards, but you would also be standing in the airport, watching your flight leave without you. Of course, this is a rare occurrence, but so is getting beaten and dragged off an airplane because they wanted your seat for another passenger.

Posted by
1071 posts

As to the legality of removing a passenger, found this on the American Bar Association's website (emphasis mine)...

"FAA civil enforcement actions have clarified the scope of behavior that violates FAA’s regulations. For example, in In re Evgeniy v. Ignatov, in which the unruly passenger touched a flight attendant to get to the back of the aircraft, the FAA held that assault is broader in the civil enforcement context and includes battery.19 Other cases have held that a simple refusal to follow flight attendant instructions (e.g., instructions to fasten a seat belt or to turn off personal electronic devices) constitutes crew interference if such refusal results in intervention by pilots or other crew members.20 Courts have stated that “[d]isruptive behavior need not be violent to interfere with crewmember duties.”21 On the other hand, “momentary and inconsequential interference” is not a violation of FAA’s regulation.22

https://www.americanbar.org/groups/gpsolo/publications/gpsolo_ereport/2022/february-2022/federal-powers-fight-back-against-unruly-airline-passengers/

Posted by
88 posts

This reminds me of what air travel was like in the first few years after 9/11. Carry on bags were not allowed, you checked your suitcase and could bring on a personal bag. Suddenly, the rate of on time arrivals and departures skyrocketed. You could just walk on and get to your seat, no waiting in the aisle while someone wrestled a bag over the heads of others. Upon landing, you got up and left. It was bliss.