Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That's 3 Bags, Sir

I really can't figure out the airlines. Gate agents make a big announcement before boarding about how travelers are only allowed to carry on two bags. One regular bag, such as a roll-aboard suitcase, and one personal item, such as a purse or computer bag. Yet, I regularly see those same gate agents turn a blind eye when passengers board with bags hanging all over their bodies...and clearly more than three!

Many experienced airline travelers disagree with my decision to check my bag. They would much rather carry their bag on board, thereby avoiding the often long wait at baggagee claim at their destination. I, on the other hand, am willing to lengthen my check-in time and to wait at baggage claim in return for other benefits. By not carrying on luggage, I do not have to worry that all of the overhead bin space will be gone by the time I board. And because most of my flights involve a connection, I like being hands-free at the connecting airport. My one carry-on is a backpack so that both of my hands are free while walking from one gate to the next. One to hold my Starbucks, the other to be checking email on my Blackberry. Finally, I prefer not to have to put a second bag under the seat in front of me, so that I can more freely stretch out my legs during longer flights. So...everyone determines which advantages are most important, and then acts accordingly.

My beef is with people who want the best of both worlds, and don't care who they inconvenience. On a recent flight, the guy seated next to me in first class arrived late. By the time he arrived....with three carry-ons...the overhead bin space was nearly gone. He proceeded to rearrange other passengers' belongings, and then shoved his larger bag up against another bag, without regard to whether he might be damaging someone else's stuff. He then became frustrated when he couldn't find space for his second large bag, so he enlisted the help of the flight attendant. In my opinion, the flight attendant should have called him out on having three bags, and required him to gate check the third one. Instead, she started checking each of the full overhead bins to see if some additional rearranging could be done. In the end, she spotted my backpack. Keep in mind that I have already agreed to the prior mentioned inconveniences of checking my bag, in order to achieve the benefits that are important to me. Now the flight attendant requests that I place my backpack under the seat in front of me so that my seatmate can use that space in the overhead bin for his illegal third bag. As you can imagine, I was not a happy camper.

So IS the limit really TWO carry-ons? If it IS, then please enforce it. If it ISN'T, then please stop saying that it is.


Brian Megilligan said...

I would not have handled that situation very well. I get so irritated when people don't follow the rules when it comes to being considerate toward others. How did you not say anything to him? or did you? :)

Doug Holden said...

I at least had the presence of mind to realize that saying something wouldn't have accomplished anything except a scene with someone that boorish, so I said nothing to him. I thought some stuff, though (forgive me, Lord!). Honestly, it was the flight attendant I should have said something to..I was just as irritated at her. And as far as rule breaking...I could hardly be surprised at all to see this same man use his Blackberry straight through takeoff, even after several general announcements had been made to turn off electronic devices...and a flight attendant had asked him specifically to turn his off.

I thought some stuff, man. I thought some stuff.