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Travel Tips: Can We End Carry On Chaos?

Travel Tips: Can We End Carry On Chaos?


I am blessed with strong relationships, with good people who all live far away from me. It means I've become an expert on flying and traveling cheap, which in turn means I've experienced the decline of air travel over the last decade or so. But, you don't have to fly economy these days to become embroiled in the chaos of carry on luggage.

Carry On Luggage
Fees for carry on bags came from the fallout of the 2008 recession, and the resulting jump in fuel prices. As anyone who has traveled has experienced, however, the fees have had a perhaps unintended effect as people over-stuff and over burden themselves with their two bag carry on limit in order to avoid checking bags at all. There are problems from the start.
  • They don't police their own policy - the standard rule was supposed to be: one bag for the overhead locker, and one for the under seat area. But, no one seems to put anything under the seat unless they're forced to, and I've yet to see airline personnel say anything to people who are carrying two large backpacks or suitcases each - even three.
  • It often gets full, and they have to check them anyway - how does this save money, time or fuel? And why are their bags free, when checked bags are not?
  • Long lines and slow moving lines boarding the plane, in reverse when the plane lands - because there's never quite enough room.

New Directions
American and some other airlines have adopted a new class of economy ticket that doesn't include any carry on luggage space - just the space under the seat in front of you. In the case of American, the ne cheap seats also include the privilege of boarding the plane last, and not choosing your seat. Ideal for single travelers, but questionable for families and certainly not romantic.
  • In contrast, some airlines are giving early boarding priority to passengers who don't put anything into the overhead baggage bins. If you want to encourage the practice, why make it a classist issue? :)
  • Some airlines, like Swoop and Ryanair, now charge a very basic fee for the ticket, with additional fees for both carry on AND checked luggage. In fact, Swoop charges more for carry on bags than checked.
  • Some airlines have also adopted smaller carry on standard sizes and weights, and are now weighing the bags before boarding.
  • Some trials have begun with a kind of bag valet process, where the airline personnel put your luggage in the bin for you.
It's not just an issue of fairness or an airline cash grab. It's also about safety. One way or another, it can't continue the way it is. I'm in favour of any policy that takes the emphasis off carry on and restores some kind of sanity to the proceedings.

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