Tuesday, August 14, 2012

A Shrewd Move

August 14, 2012

To make money, airlines decided to charge $25 or more for checked luggage.

To save money, passengers decided to cram as much luggage as possible into the overhead bins. So it takes forever for people to get on and off the planes.

Furthermore, the airplanes don’t have enough room for all the carry-on bags. So they ask people to gate-check the bags—for free—to the final destination.

(I don’t know why more people don’t do it. I always do, because I have connecting flights, and hate dragging luggage through the airport and into the bathrooms, or finding room for it at the food court, when I’m not dragging it at top speed to make a connecting flight on a tight schedule. However.)

Three years ago, they asked nicely, but nobody was doing it. I said, “Why don’t you offer to let the people who don’t tie up traffic by using the overhead bins off the plane first?”

The gate attendants just smiled and said, “Oh, we can’t do that.”

Really? You can’t say, “Passengers with items in the overhead bins, please remain seated while those who do not need to get items from the overhead bins come to the front of the plane to disembark.” You’re not bashful about anything else!

Flash forward three years. Now airlines are not offering incentives. They’re saying, “You can volunteer to check your bags at the gate, or we’ll do it for you.” So the first leg of my flight was delayed while the attendants gate-checked—for free!—lots and lots of bags. The bags that the airlines say cost $25 each to handle.

Watching the chaos and frustration suffered by both passengers and attendants, I murmured in one gate attendant’s ear, “Next contract negotiation—$5 baggage fees.”

She murmured back, “I know.”

Please forward this one to as many people as you can. If I'm lucky, it will convince the airlines to let us do-gooders off the plane first.

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