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Insta-CoGo: Delta vs. the Bag Hogs

Cindy Loose

Okay, so everyone was bent out of shape when United and US Airways recently announced they'd start charging extra money for most economy passengers who wanted to check a second bag. Now comes this news from Delta Air Lines: On international flights, the carrier will be strictly enforcing rules about the size of your carryons.

Carryon bags on international flights aren't supposed to be bigger than 45 inches when all three dimensions are added together, and they're not allowed to weigh more than 40 pounds. Delta will enforce the rules by weighing and eyeballing or measuring them, then putting a red tag on those that meet the standards.

Too big or too heavy? Sorry, it's no carryon. You're still allowed your second small item, like a purse or laptop. The idea is to avoid running out of space in overhead compartments.

There are two ways of looking at this:

* Yeah! Finally someone is taking control of the bag hogs who slow down the boarding and deplaning process and take up all the overhead space.

* Boo! Airlines are coming at us from all sides, charging to check and getting bossy about carryons.

Are you a yeah or a boo?

By Cindy Loose |  March 6, 2008; 7:37 AM ET  | Category:  Airline Industry , Cindy Loose , Insta-CoGo
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YAY! Finally.

Posted by: first | March 6, 2008 8:44 AM

YAY! YAY! YAY! I am a frequent business traveler and generally have my Timbuktu soft briefcase and a small, soft-sided carry-on. Since most of my clients are OK with business casual this works well for my typical two day trip. For longer trips I check my rolling bag and move through security with a single bag, my briefcase.

I know that waiting 10-15 minutes at Dulles for your bag is a huge inconvenience, but I am convinced that on-time departures would increase tenfold if the aisles cleared faster and late-boarding passengers weren't looking for places to store their clearly oversized bag. Security screening would also go a lot more quickly.

This policy is long overdue and I hope that it is both enforced and other airlines follow suit.

Posted by: Mike Sorce | March 6, 2008 8:57 AM

Another yay!

Posted by: dennis5 | March 6, 2008 9:02 AM

Another Yay with this caveat - they also need to strictly enforce the number of "small items" brought on board. I can't stand it when the person has a purse, laptop bag and two shopping bags as well as their roll aboard.

Posted by: Liz | March 6, 2008 9:29 AM

I add to the chorus - Yee Haa!

Posted by: Oy! | March 6, 2008 9:30 AM

I enthusiastically say "yeah", but I remain "boo" to the extra bag check fees.

Posted by: Julia | March 6, 2008 9:34 AM

I think I'm a "yay!" but got to thinking and have a question. I usually have no problem with bringing just my purse and maybe a small carry-on on the plane, but what happens if I buy something from one of the stores past security? I don't usually do any airport shopping, but if I did, how would this work into the bag count?

Posted by: non frequent flyer | March 6, 2008 9:54 AM

Yay! Yay! A thousand times Yay!

May I also suggest a return to boarding from the rear of the plane and having flight attendants in the aisles?

I rarely carry-on anything other than a small boarding bag - you could put my bag and its' twin two-deep in any overhead bin and combined they would still be smaller than many of the suitcases that people drag on a plane.

More than once, flight attendants have been kind enough to find a spot for my bag 10+ rows behind my seat because the overhead bins for my row (and the surrounding ones) are completely filled with large suitcases when I get to my seat.

After the plane lands and I've let everyone out around me (I'm usually in the aisle), I have had to wait for the plane to clear so I can go back and retrieve my bag. While I've been waiting, someone from that part of the plane always walks up, takes his/her over-sized bag from my overhead bin and deplanes.

I always want to scream: "If your bag was too big/inconvenient to drag down the aisle, then why did you bring it on the plane?"

Perhaps if flight attendants were there to make sure people didn't do that, those of us who carry appropriate sized bags wouldn't have to be inconvenienced.

And yeah - still boo to the charge on general principle (even though it would affect me rarely). As someone pointed out on a previous thread, those with physical disabilities tend to check two smaller bags, so this is a problem for them.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 6, 2008 10:03 AM

Interesting question, non frequent. I'm confident the airlines would say officially that everything counts, even purchases made past security. Then again, the toughest scrutiny will be of the bag when you check in, so I'd say you'd have a good chance of slipping by at the gate. However, by doing so you'd be taking two risks: One that airline personnel might in fact notice as you board, and care, and force you to check something. Two,fellow passengers who followed the rules--and feel strongly about them as the other postings show--would likely notice and hate you for it.

Posted by: cindy loose | March 6, 2008 10:08 AM

Thanks for the response. I certainly am not aiming to incur the wrath of fellow passengers. Would likely just try to stuff whatever I bought into my carry-on.

Posted by: non frequent flyer | March 6, 2008 10:13 AM

I say YAY. I normally use a soft-sided Red Oxx Air Boss Bag and it complies with the dimensions even when crammed full. It's great for the overhead lockers because it can be squeezed in (and in the proper direction, narrow side out), as opposed to the wheeled bags that have a rigid frame on the side with the wheels and thus take up a fixed amount of space. It ALSO fits under the seat if I have to put it there, although for obvious reasons I try to avoid that. The majority of bags now being marketed as carry-ons will not fit under the seat, which is a real problem since that's supposed to be your primary storage spot, not the overhead.

But I also agree with the principle of one of the points "Chasmosaur" makes--i.e., do not let people stick their bags in the overhead lockers in the front of the plane when they're sitting in the back. It's unbelievably obnoxious, and I think it would be reasonable if an offending bag were immediately taken outside and sent down to be put in the hold with the checked bags. (I've seen this happen on British Airways when economy passengers try to put their bags in the business class or premium economy overheads. They're removed and they're sent to the hold. Invariably the only people who attempt this stunt are Americans who become outraged when their bags are moved.) It's one thing if the overhead lockers nearest your row are full and you need to put your bag maybe three rows forward. That's fair. It's not OK if you're sitting in Row 45, you're in the first boarding group aside from the first class and elite passengers, and you stick your bag in the overhead for Row 13.

Posted by: Rich | March 6, 2008 12:03 PM

Another yay! About time they started enforcing the rules.
I only travel with carry-on, but it is a backpack--easy to fit in the overhead. I put a purse under the seat for all the travel comforts like water, lip balm, etc.

Posted by: 1shot | March 6, 2008 1:17 PM

How about enforcing the carry-on rule for DOMESTIC flights? That would be a help.

Last weekend I took a Sat-Mon business trip to New Orleans from DCA. I flew down on one of those really small planes so I didn't even attempt to bring my small suitcase on; I just handed it off to be put in the cargo hold.

On Monday, I flew back on an Embraer jet and my seat assignment was up front. By the time I boarded, all the overheads around my seat were full. I unsuccessfully tried to get the flight attendant's attention for help. The real kicker was I saw a woman board with a roll-on, a tote bag and a pocketbook and not one USAirways gate agent made her check the suitcase.

Posted by: cab91 | March 6, 2008 1:56 PM

I think this is great for international flights, but I disagree with cab91 that this is needed for domestic ones.

I am a frequent business traveler, and I have been burned too many times by airlines losing my luggage. (USAir is the worst - specifically Philly. Just check out the lost luggage stats online.) I make every attempt possible to avoid checking luggage, meaning that yes, I am one of those people who comes on board with a carry-on that just barely meets regulation. If my bag is lost, I am often in another city by the time the airline tracks down the bag and is ready to deliver it to me. I've lost 3 pieces of luggage this year already.

If airlines want us to bring less on-board, then they should improve luggage handling. There's technology out there to drastically reduce the percentage of mishandled luggage, and it'll reduce costs associated with hunting down misplaced luggage or paying customers for lost luggage. Why not implement it already?

Posted by: jennifer | March 6, 2008 2:37 PM

Sorry Jennifer but if an airline announces before boarding that you're limited to one carry on and one personal bag, they should enforce that policy.

I won't argue that USAirways is the worst, especially in Philly, but lost luggage doesn't discriminate between international or domestic travel.

Have you tried gate checking your bag that barely meets regulation?

Posted by: cab91 | March 6, 2008 3:18 PM

ABSOLUTELY agree with Jennifer. Bringing your bags on board is very much a response to the lost luggage dilemma. If there was a modicum of effort on the airlines part to assure delivery and to assure SECURITY - by securing the bag delivery area and checking tags (like most of the rest of the known world), then I would be more inclined to part with my roll-on... Aside from this I welcome the effort... I will never forget the poor woman who tried to board a flight with FIVE three inch binders and was told by the Gate Agent that she had in fact SIX items, five binders and her purse. She was informed that she somehow had to loose four of the binders... Never saw how she resolved that...

Posted by: model_un | March 6, 2008 3:28 PM

another Yay here, now about domestic flights>>>>>

Posted by: rja112 | March 6, 2008 11:35 PM

Delta's "operated by Comair" domestic flights seem to have a good solution. If you have a rolling suitcase or anything too large to fit under the seat in front of you, it gets checked at the steps to the plane (they call it Planeside Valet). They then take those bags back out as soon as the plane lands, and you can retrieve your bag outside the door when you deplane. I usually travel with a rolling carryon and a backpack, and this keeps all of the plane space open while making it easy to avoid checking a bag, and thus risking its mishandling.

Posted by: morgan | March 6, 2008 11:52 PM

Add another "Yea" to the list. If the airlines have an advertised rule (45" combined length/width/height) and it's strictly and fairly enforced, then nobody has a right to complain. Adn most of us have a reason to rejoice.
Perhaps if the airlines did something more about baggage (both checked and unchecked) and TSA became more efficient, proficient and uniform in their security procedures, then I might be willing to fly more often. As it is, I'm driving 14 hours each way on vacation this summer just to avoid flying. Flying used to be a treat "back in the day", but now I view it as a punishment.

Posted by: arl | March 7, 2008 8:56 AM

To Rich -

Your scenario is exactly what I meant. Three or four rows, fine. It's those that just decide to throw their bags up out of convenience to them that I find aggravating.

It's nice to know BA punishes those who try it.

Posted by: Chasmosaur | March 7, 2008 9:22 AM

"If you have a rolling suitcase or anything too large to fit under the seat in front of you, it gets checked at the steps to the plane (they call it Planeside Valet)."

This isn't unique to Delta. A number of the airlines that operate smaller planes, such as Embraers with the 1-2 seating arrangement, often do this. I've heard it called "Gate Check" several times. American Eagle's service from Reagan to Kennedy does this, as does Continental Express.

Posted by: Rich | March 7, 2008 9:59 AM

A qualified "yeah," but I agree with Jennifer. I generally fly only a few times a year, and I've still had luggage lost a couple of times. Checking luggage through connections is especially risky; that's how my luggage was lost. Another time my first flight was delayed and I just barely caught my (also-delayed) connection, so there's no way any checked bags would have made it.

I try to book direct flights when I can, which helps (as does Fed-Exing critical paperwork to the hotel), but when I absolutely have to have a suit for a business trip, there's no way I'd entrust it to any airline.

I'm not talking about violating the size rules -- my rolling bag, like Jennifer's, is just within the limits but has to go overhead, and I always make sure my other bag (which often is full of papers, so I wouldn't be able to squeeze in clothes) fits under the seat. (I dress in layers to avoid bringing an overcoat -- those suckers take up a lot of the overhead space.) But if every bag had to be small enough to fit under the seat, that would be a huge problem for a lot of business travelers who cannot rely on checked bags.

Posted by: jane | March 10, 2008 12:42 PM

"YaY'! I hate that I-sit-in-the-back-but my-luggage-is-in-the-front. I can't stand it when I see people (mostly nicely dressed businessmen--sorry, but it's true) put their carryon bags--AND their bulky overcoats--in the front of the plane when their seat is actually row 48D. I HATE that. It's selfish beyond belief. Shame on them all.

Posted by: Sadie | March 12, 2008 12:01 PM

Ya-hoo!

Posted by: barbie | March 12, 2008 1:43 PM

I agree that taking a large carryon is a strategy to avoid lost luggage. I am not a business traveler and when I travel it is usually from place to place. I have been to Ireland and Spain in the last 18 months and both times had luggage lost. If I hadn't had extra clothes, toiletries, etc. with me I would have been in bad shape. My luggage bound for Spain went from Dayton, OH to Chicago to LAX and finally to Madrid, 48 hours and 2 days of sightseeing later.

Posted by: Carolyn | March 12, 2008 2:08 PM

Yea, I also like the planeside valet but please don't make travelers wait while these bags are unloaded. Let the travelers deplane and those that have valet luggage can wait for their bags. It seems the airlines don't think about everyone when they make everyone wait. Another problem are those people who know they will be deplaning but aren't prepared and then hold up everything while they collect all their belongings which are spread around the compartments and under seats. Where is the crew while this is happening?

Posted by: lorene | March 12, 2008 2:28 PM

Sanity at last. Only in Myanmar have I seen worse 'bag-hogging' than in the USA. There I shared the cabin with a suite of patio furniture. In Myanmar the military can do no wrong!!

Posted by: Paul O'Brien | March 12, 2008 9:31 PM

Count me as a Yea, both for foreign and domestic. Poeple, they are called CARRY-ON for a reason. If the bag is so big or so heavy that you can't CARRY IT ON then it's NOT carry-on. It's a piece of luggage that should have been checked. But nooo... you are too selfish or self absorbed to think that the rules apply to you. Instead,boarding times are increased, you cram your luggage into the overhead compartmentnot giving a damn as to weither or not that bag that was sitting there already had any breakables in it(that you just destroyed, thank you very much).
I think not only should the number and size/weight limits be inforced,but the should be a surcharge foe violators

Posted by: poollizard | March 13, 2008 2:37 AM

A belated YAY (just saw this item in today's print edition)!!!!!!!! And hope/pray/whatever that all airlines do this for both international and domestic flights. If cabin staff could ensure that overhead space in the frontis not taken up by passengers who do not have seats in that area.

It is a sad comment on our society that so many people feel the rules don't apply to them and that they don't need to exercise common courtesy.

Posted by: Cathy in NVa | March 16, 2008 9:43 AM

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