Yo, mind your luggage manners!


Mentioning the words “airline” and “luggage” in the same sentence is one of the fastest ways to start an argument.

Maybe it’s enough to dredge up suppressed memories of your last flight, when an inconsiderate passenger stole the bin space above your seat with an overstuffed Rollaboard. Maybe you’re thinking of United Airlines, which recently announced it would crack down on oversize carry-on items.

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Then again, perhaps Frontier Airlines, which said last week that it would start charging $25 for carry-on bags on certain fares, comes to mind.

Yes, the overhead bins are way too small. And yes, airlines want to check your bags because it speeds up boarding, and they earn billions in luggage fees.

But there’s a lot more to the luggage conflict.

We seem to have lost our way when it comes to airline baggage. True, U.S. airline passengers often have zero manners in the luggage department, particularly when it comes to their carry-on items. But air travelers have good reason for their lack of civility, and fixing the problem will require a concerted effort by travelers, airlines and agents.

Let me be the first to admit that my luggage etiquette is sometimes lacking. On a Southwest Airlines flight from Denver to Salt Lake City recently, I thoughtlessly shoved my son’s backpack over someone else’s seat as I boarded (I’m sorry). Going through customs at JFK a few weeks ago, my Delsey bag inadvertently rolled over another passenger’s feet (I’m really sorry about that one).

The former faux pas is one of Patrick Smith’s pet peeves, especially when the bag is stored in the first available luggage bin.

“That causes the forward bins to quickly fill, meaning that passengers seated toward the front are forced to travel backward down the aisle to stow their belongings,” says Smith, author of Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need to Know About Air Travel. Result: The already tedious boarding and deplaning process becomes even more time-consuming.

Susan Foster, author of the book Smart Packing For Today’s Traveler, says rolling over someone else’s feet is a problem — for kids. “Very small children with cute little rolling suitcases are a danger to all who cross their paths,” she says. “They are simply too young to know how to control the bag and to understand they should watch where it is going.”

What makes us lose our minds over luggage? Airline passengers used to schlep everything but the kitchen sink on board, fearing their checked bags would get lost. But less luggage is being lost by domestic airlines. Last year, the Transportation Department reported that 3.22 bags were lost or misplaced per 1,000 passenger enplanements, about half as many as in 2007. Then again, passengers have been more reluctant to check their luggage since most airlines stopped including the first checked suitcase in their ticket prices a few years ago.

“This shift has led to limited space for carry-ons and a slowed-down boarding process as passengers attempt to avoid bag fees,” concluded a recent report on airline complaints by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

What’s the fix? As I thought about the circumstances leading up to my baggage-stowing and rollover incident, the answer became more complicated. See, I stole the overhead bin from another passenger because I felt rushed to board the jet so it could depart on time. A crewmember announced that the plane couldn’t leave until everyone was seated, prompting me to find a seat fast. I rolled over the passenger’s feet in New York because a throng of people behind me was literally pushing me through the terminal, not because I can’t control my rolling bag.

If I need a refresher on luggage etiquette — and I do — perhaps we all could benefit from one. Yet, airlines and travel agencies can help, too. How about informing customers of proper etiquette before they board? Airlines might, if checked bags weren’t such a moneymaker.

Losing less checked baggage is a good start, but etiquette expert Jodi Smith says there’s only one way to defuse the luggage conflict: “Have airlines include a checked bag in the price of their tickets.” Ah, but wouldn’t airlines lose money? Tell that to Southwest and JetBlue, both of which manage to include a checked bag and earn a profit.

Installing more luggage templates and threatening to send passengers who overpack back to the ticket counter to shell out $25 to check their bag seems to be the preferred route for airlines. But that probably will make an already bad situation worse.

Isn’t it time for a little luggage detente?

Do our luggage manners need an upgrade?

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How to lighten the load

Pack smaller. After Dana Berry was told her regulation-size bag was “too big,” she decided to downsize her carry-on. “There’s a payoff for economizing,” says Berry, who works for a Little Rock communications firm.

Board early. “Those poor unfortunates relegated to boarding group 4 or 5 often have to gate-check all their bags,” says professional speaker and frequent flier Barry Maher. “That causes all additional conflicts while they take out their frustration on the flight attendants and, in some cases, even delay departure.” To avoid that, board early if you can.

Ship it. Shipping services such as FedEx and UPS, or baggage services such as LugLess.com, can help you bypass airline luggage altogether. LugLess has even publishes a useful cost calculator to help you determine whether shipping your bag makes sense.

73 thoughts on “Yo, mind your luggage manners!

  1. My personal pet peeve is people who board what they know is a full flight, yet put both their items in the overhead. You can’t blame that sort of selfishness on the airlines.

    1. What about the people who put their suit coat in the overhead, then get angry when you move it so you can put your reasonably sized carrying on bag up there? That’s mine…

      1. sunship, I’ve seen this happen. Just stare at them, it’s not worth discussing with someone so ignorant, they’ll never understand your point.

        1. I’ve only experienced this once. My response was to hand the person (who was in the middle seat the row in front of me) his jacket. He had so scooch out and put it back up himself, since he was apparently so uncomfortable with my moving it around. I apologized to the person on the aisle next to him. He did not.

          1. VERY COOL!! I wish more people would sweetly stand up for themselves. Perhaps the jerks will back off and behave like human beings.

  2. I have researched those shipping companies, are they ever a good idea. I just checked for scheduled trip about a month from now, 2 suitcases cheapest package is 200 for there and back? just for 2 bags?

  3. Southwest and JetBlue include checked bags in the price of their ticket yet I still have had problems getting overhead space on them as well. I’m not convinced that is the the only cause.

    1. Oh thank goodness, an opportunity to vent about my Southwest flights last week! One of my flights last Saturday afternoon was already late due to weather in the connecting city (Denver). That meant those short connecting times would be nearly impossible to make, so people brought alltheir bags on board, rather than checking them. That meant we were delayed leaving the airport. Which meant we missed our time to be at a gate, so had to sit on the tarmac for 40 minutes while the gate opened up for us. Which led to a wild scramble for bags in bins at deplaning and people missing their flights, which at that time of day, were the last flights out of Denver to any city.

      Had people minded their luggage manners, they may have made it home that night, perhaps with bags (the luggage carts seemed to be moving faster than we were).

      1. It is exactly because of this that my one rule for Southwest flights exists: Fly ONLY NONSTOP.

        While I realize that for many people not lucky enough to live near a major airport (or be traveling to a major airport) that may not be an option, I will almost always choose the nonstop option even if it costs more. Many airlines do give the option to book a longer connection time but I have not had much luck doing that on Southwest. They seem to only offer the short connection times when you book online. Of course when everything is running perfectly, their connection times are acceptable. But we all know how seldom that happens in air travel these days.

      2. It’s unfair to lump all carry on bags into the same bucket. There are overstuffed bags, bags that are regulation size, and bags that fit under the seat. A lot of problems come from overstuffed bags. Many of these have the extension zipper unzipped, which means that they are in no way regulation sized. United has now instituted sizers for all of their bags – let’s see if this cuts down on the problems. If the problems don’t go away then you can blame the carry on folk.
        As for me, I’ve been going carry on long before they started charging for it. I got tired of lost bags. It’s pretty easy to pack for a trip using only a carry on. I just wish people would do it properly and not bring the kitchen sink.

        1. I agree with what you’re saying, but am not sure if you intended to reply to me??? The flight I described had every kind of bag on board, and a few of them obviously should have been checked. The most egregious example was the woman with the C class ticket who came in with her doggie in its little under-the-seat carrier and that suitcase nearly as big as she was. She was the last person to board and held us up because a) doggie didn’t want to be in a middle seat, but on an aisle seat [methinks doggie should have paid the $12.50 for an earlier boarding number]; and b) being the last person to board, no bag of any size was going to fit in an overhead bin, let alone a bag nearly the size of a steamer trunk. I’m pretty sure a kitchen sink would have rattled around in that bag. 🙂

          1. It sounded as though you were blaming carry-on travelers for the late departure. In this case it was a clueless traveler with an oversized bag. I think that United drawing the line on bag size will encourage other airlines to do the same (I’m hoping anyway). There should be less incidents of this type in the future?

          2. Hmm. To repeat, I said that “people brought alltheir bags on board, rather than checking them.” (Yes, there should be a space in there, but I copied and pasted verbatim.) Semantically, yes, I was blaming carry-on travelers for the late(r) departure, since bags that would normally have been checked (or should have been checked) were carried on, instead. Multiple larger pieces of luggage and the shuffle to fit them somewhere led to a later departure. The lady with the small dog was only the most glaring example. She was only one member of the bad luggage manners club.

            Had Southwest used the bag sizers sitting at the gate and enforced the results, it would not have been a problem, so I agree with you. I guess I’ve been agreeing with you, but I haven’t expressed myself adequately, sorry.

        2. I just got home a few hours ago from a UA flight. Yes they have sizers, but no one used them and no one was stopped from boarding with overstuffed bags.

    2. Right. The biggest cause is that people can’t wait 10-15 minutes for their bag, for some reason. So, instead, they make everybody wait 10 minutes or so to get off the plane while they lug their giant bags out of the overhead.

  4. I suspect that if the physical volume of overhead space were to be divided by the space consumed by the maximum legal carry on bag, the result would be less than the number of seats. The problem is systematic, and cannot be solved by either the airlines or the passengers as long as there are perceived and actual advantages to overhead luggage vs checked.

    Only if the overhead space is increased or if the overhead advantage is balanced by a fee that makes checked baggage more attractive will this imbalance be corrected. As the planes will not get bigger overheads, the answer is free checked baggage and a fee for carry on.

    Just imagine what would happen if the first bag were free if checked and $25 if overhead instead of the other way around. Airline revenue would be approximately neutral, but the overhead space scrum would be relieved.

  5. Americans pretend the problem does not exist.
    Why take any responsibility if the passengers are expected to figure it out all by themselves?
    Which kind of freedom do you want?

  6. I absolutely hate when people sitting in the back of the plane put their carry-ons in a bin at the front of the plane. Even worse is when they as the flight attendant if they can put their bag up front even though they are in the back, and the FA says yes. I’ve seen that happen so many times. My second least-favorite is the person who puts both of their carry-ons into the bin when the FA’s have been announcing every five seconds that the flight is full so please put one bag in the overhead and one under the seat in front of you. Then there was the time when I got to my seat and there was a bag under the seat in front of me. I finally found out it belonged to the person sitting in the seat in front of me. She thought she was supposed to put it under the seat she was sitting in.

    1. I’ve never had a problem with luggage, I get on early, put my bag where I want and let the latecomers deal with the lack of space.

      I found it interesting that someone says the space above their seat. Do American planes only have one seat each side, I mean I know Americans are big but….

      Simply put, there is enough space for your carry on, under the seat in front of you.

      However, we don’t like to put it there, because it makes the space you have more cramped, so people want to put it in the space above. The one slot for 3 or 4 seats…

      Are you seeing the problem here?

      In Europe, it’s quite common to have no checked luggage on a flight now, all carry on. The rules are simple, get there early, or put the luggage under the seat in front. Doesn’t fit? Then your bag is too big and it gets checked at your cost.

      The only exception to this being emergency exit lane seats, where the attendents do their darnedest to make sure the bags are near you.

      Finally, dropping off the bags up front? Seems like a fine plan, less need to walk all the way down the plane with it then, and mostly you’ve got to walk past it any-ways. Clearly no-one really wanted that spot, or they would have got there early and already got it.If the plane suddenly decides to be 2 stairs, or 2 exits, then you’ll have to wait.

      2 Carry-ons? In Europe, those are gone. One only and yes madam your huge handbag counts as one, and yes sir mr metrosexual so does your huge man-bag.

      1. Stashing your bag up front when your assigned seat is in the back of the plane is not good unless the flight attendant tells you to do so. On US flights, most (except Southwest) airlines have the passengers in the back rows board first so the bins up front will be empty if you are boarding with your group. Personally, I want my bag as close to me as possible. I might need something out of it and I don’t want it to be so far from me I can’t just stand up and grab it.

        1. In the rest of the world it’s different. Either it’s a scrum, you all board, or it’s boarded from the front to rear. I agree, I like my bag close to me, however the airlines view is how much closer can under the seat in front of you get?

          Due to checked in bag prices, this is only going to get worse.

          Personally, free checked on bags and a premium for any more than a tiny on carry-on bag (laptop/ipad/headphones) would be the way forward.

      2. Nice attitude. The first flaw in your logic is that, except for Southwest and a few others, people board from back to front by boarding group. The folks in the front rows could have been at the gate before you. So you can take that reason off your list of justifications. The other flaw in your logic is that, while it is very easy for someone in the back of the plane to grab the bag he selfishly stowed above someone else’s seat as he moves toward the front of the plane. The unfortunate person in the front who had to put his bag in the back because of you? Cannot “swim upstream”, so he has to wait until everyone else has passed him to get off, before he can get to the back where his bag is. People who do this (which looks like it includes you) are the worst kind of selfish, entitled richards.

        1. Ugh, I’ve had this happen before. The flight I arrived on was late, so I had to race to the next gate for my connecting flight. I was the last to board and the nearest open overhead space was appx 10 rows back. I wouldn’t have been as annoyed, except that when we landed and I waited for everyone else to leave so I could go back and grab my bag, I noticed that the passengers grabbing bags from above my head were seated…10 rows back where my bag was stashed! So they had space in their own overhead bin, but decided to use mine so they could sprint ahead of others on their way out the door. >:(

        2. Travelnut, “except for Southwest and a few others”

          Egypt Air.
          Air India
          Air France/KLM

          So not sure who you fly that does…

          So for you as a “domestic flyer” that works. Internationally and in the rest of the world it doesn’t. The fact that the domestic carrier you uses boards that way, doesn’t mean the rest of the world does, or that the international carriers do. Have you ever had this problem flying first internationally? Business internationally?

          Selfishly? “Concerned chiefly or only with oneself” yup, gender neutral

          Yet you’re very sexist with “He”

          Are you a sexist or was that a mistake?

          You also seem to miss the point, you want the bag close, what’s wrong with under the seat in Front of you, or did someone get to the gate earlier than you and put their bag there too?

          You sound very precious about this…are you trying to have a carry on bag, and a hand bag?

          Plus in a row of 3 seats, who exactly gets the space above the row? Seat a b or c? Someone loses.

          The answer as I’ve suggested is simple, make checked on bags free, carry on a premium, then at £50 a carry on bag, I’m pretty sure there would be lots of space in the lockers overhead. Or get to the gate in plenty of time. Choose your space in your overhead locker. If you’re in row 28 and it’s already rammed in the overhead lockers, drop your bag where you can. If you’re in 1A, then I’m sure there will be plenty of space above your fold flat bed when you get there, whatever time you stoll up.

    2. The FA on my most recent USAirways flight to DCA asked to see the boarding pass of a guy who walked on the plane and stuck his carry-on in the first available bin. When she saw that his seat was in the back of the plane, she made him remove the bag and told him to use a bin closer to his seat. He looked back a couple times to see if she was watching him. She was. He and his bag ended up in the back where they belonged.

  7. And then you have the snobbish “elite” who think their status allows them to break every rule in the book. Had a woman yesterday who just brushed me off with a wave of her hand (and very nasty comments) when I made note that her large hard-sided garment bag would have to be checked. I generally do this without barking a “power-tripping” order, so I was calm and reasonable about it. This, while checking in before security and she went crazy at even the thought of it. “I’m NOT checking it” !!, I do it all the time”.
    Yeah, right, until my supervisor was summoned and she had to check it. Meantime the husband is sticking his nose in my chest to get my name (ID). Just ask for my name !!. People are so RUDE; I swear if she could have spit on me she would have. I have no problem giving my name when I am doing the right thing of which I did. “I’m going to complain about you, write a letter”, etc., etc., Okay, I’ll wait in fear until my employer hauls me off to the electric chair. Idiot……and yes, we do talk about you when you walk away – and it’s not about what a “wonderful” customer you are.

    1. Saw something on a Frontier flight that I still don’t understand. A man got on with a bag that would have probably been too large to even qualify as checked luggage (not sure how he even got it through the TSA checkpoint). The flight attendant politely told him he would have to check it because it would not fit in the overhead. His response was “It will fit, B****.” And he proceeded to attempt to stuff it into the overhead breaking the bin door in the process! Th flight attendant told the pilot that this passenger could not fly because of what he said and did. The captain walked off the plane with the passenger. About 5 minutes later both walked back on the plane (without the luggage). The flight attendant complained to the captain and said she would not fly if that passenger remained on the plane. Captain’s response: “Get over it.” And we were delayed nearly 2 hours while they attempted to repair the bin door so it could close.

      1. Your story has a bit of everything in it. A rude passenger, indeed, and if he was negligent, a responsibility to compensate the carrier for the damage caused to the door. On the other hand, lack of civility is not a crime, and common carriers have a duty to transport even unlikeable people. I think the captain was probably correct. If a person has a thin skin, they should not work in a customer-oriented position where negative feedback is common; in the absence of fighting words, such employees need to be able to take it. The fellow passengers should have told the rude passenger he was being a jerk. Alas, manners no longer seem to present as they once were (see, e.g., http://footage.shutterstock.com/clip-3998884-stock-footage–s-passengers-sing-a-song-about-greyhound-busses-while-traveling-across-america-in-the-s.html).

        1. I have seen people thrown off planes for less. I can only guess that this one was someone “special” which is why he was allowed on the plane after verbally abusing a flight attendant and willfully damaging the plane.

        2. People break and damage airplanes on a daily basis without a second thought to it. This includes putting nasty bare greasy feet stains on a bulkhead.

      2. The flight attendant should have walked off the flight. That would have taught the pilot to stick up for his crew.

      3. I arrived on a flight late once due to a late connection. There was space across the aisle form my seat, but blocked by a sideways bag taking up three spots. I tried to move the bag and a man jumped up and yelled at me. I asked an FA and she got upset and said she would make him turn it, or check it, and walked back with me. Then she saw the man and told me that she is sorry, that he can store his bag that way if he likes because he is very important. Guess who had to gate check?

  8. The airlines need to enforce the one up, one down rule. It irks me to no end to try to load my camera case up there (I ALWAYS put my computer under the seat in front of me) and find it’s full of backpacks, briefcases and freaking PEOPLE’S JACKETS! It’s very clear those don’t belong up there. Enforcing that one rule would make life so much easier for everyone, and it doesn’t cost $25

  9. That was ONE GREAT ARTICLE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I carry a “fit under the seat in front of my bag.” And one piece of luggage to send through. Rarely I have a small bag for overhead — BUT IT TAKES UP LITTLE ROOM.

  10. I do think that it is a combination of the greedy airlines with checked bag fees (and saving money due to less staff to handle the luggage) and days of old when passengers checked (or carried on) everything. In my travels I have seen a tire checked, a lady with a live chicken try to board (Mexico 2 days before Christmas) and a family of four with 16 pcs of checked luggage (yes I did count). Now people overpack int there carryons to save money and are afraid that the airlines will lose (or delay) there checked luggage.A wait at the airport for the next flight (and your luggage ) becomes an issue, esp if you had planned on long a drive to your final destination. ( Most rural areas are 2+ hrs by car from a major or minor airport and the minor airports sometimes only have 1 flight a day by a carrier) I see the issue of wasting a vacation day waiting for my luggage. Business travelers that make day trips or 1 overnight just pack what they need, the long haul vacation and traveling families at holidays seem to take all possessions. Other than making much larger carryon area and charging more for the ticket to cover fuel costs and plane cost I cant see a solution. (Other than politeness)

  11. You missed what may be the biggest problem with checking a bag — the time spent waiting for the bags to be unloaded at the final destination. When you’re flying into a big airport, the wait for the bags is usually 30 minutes or more. If all you have is carry-on, you walk off the plane and get out of the airport. What is your time worth?

    Of course, that means paying more for infrastructure — efficient baggage management systems and more staff to clear the holds of aircraft quickly.

    (In my experience, the worst have been the airports near New York City. I once had to wait 4 hours for luggage off an international arrival at JFK. Back when Continental existed, the average wait at EWR was 45-60 minutes. The best I’ve seen, and I admit this was phenomenally lucky, was 8 minutes on an international fright into SFO. I walked off the plane, was first in line for immigration, and the first bags off the flight were mine.)

    1. I’ll tell you this, as much as I hate the ATL airport, they are second to none at getting bags up to the claim area. My bags are usually already on the belt by the time I get there. It makes the wait everywhere else that much worse.

  12. to have good “luggage manners” i check in my bag whenever i can (meaning only on non stop flights), but then this results in me packing 80% of my items in to my check in.

    so long story short- as a 5’3″ female with not so impressive upper body stregnth- i have lost control of my bag, and ran over people’s feet before.

    (so glad I’m not alone…..)

  13. I will admit I hate checking in luggage – I’ve had a bag lost, a bag destroyed, and things stolen (with and without the lovely note from TSA), so I have not checked a bag in about 10 years (with the exception of valet-checked on the RJs). However, I am someone who travels with a smaller than maximum allowed bag for the overhead bins and a small bag for under the seat, and I am slowly transitioning to a having a single bag that will fit under the seat (I will admit it also helps being petite). I am one of those people who tries to put my bag in the overhead by my seat, because I want to keep an eye on it.

    I think the whole overhead bin debacle is a combination of things – the airlines charging for checked bags and people not wanting to pay or wait, people taking “slightly too big” bags and the airlines not enforcing limits, and the simple fact that the overhead bins simply aren’t big enough for everyone to bring a 22x14x9 bag – even on the larger planes.

    I think the airlines should set weight limits for carryons like the Asian and European airlines or take a page from Easyjet’s playbook – your carry on is guaranteed to make it on if it’s under 50x40x20 cm (roughly 19.5x 15.7 x 8 inches), although I don’t think either of those will happen – I’m just waiting for the mainlines to start charging for carryons.

  14. It seems we’re all doing whatever we can to let the whole flying experience be as “self serve” as possible. There have been many flights that I have never had the need to communicate with one single person, except perhaps the “thank you buh-bye” at the end of my flight. The only time we need to speak with someone is when there’s a problem, and then we have to hope we get a person with an ounce of compassion for whatever’s gone wrong.
    Since the airlines have become experts at auxiliary charges, I’m surprised they’ve not come up with the idea of charging for overhead space. We pay for a space relatively close to our seat – and the folks in the front wouldn’t have to do the salmon-swimming-upstream dance to retrieve their bags – any open spaces could become up for grabs a few minutes before departure. I would absolutely pay for this peace of mind!

  15. i just don’t understand why people would want their luggage out of their sight and reach. i would never dream of stowing my carry-on anyplace else but in the compartment right above me no matter how far back in the plane i’m sitting. when it comes to deplaning, i can get it down right there onto my seat and have it in hand when the line starts moving out the door – no time wasted on trying to remember which bin i put my luggage then holding up the line while i wrestle it out. (but then again, i have some of that rare commodity known as common sense…lol)

  16. “Yet, airlines and travel agencies can help, too. How about informing customers of proper etiquette before they board? ”

    Wow – all that time my parents wasted teaching me how to act in public. I could have been raised by a corporation instead leaving them tons of personal time and not parents preparing their child for civilization.

    “But air travelers have good reason for their lack of civility”. So very wrong.Very very wrong.

    1. Love it and agree with your comment…….just another case of passing the buck or permitting the ignorant, crass and rude to blame everyone but themselves. If you don’t have the basics down on common sense and decency by your early teens, you hardly will be able to resist bad behavior after that. People that have reached this point cannot be “shamed”. By the way, the woman that I spoke about in my previous comment was north of age 75. We live in a society where calling someone out on bad behavior is not to be heard of, politically incorrect. It’s all so twisted.

      1. I am glad for the write up in general, and accidents (rolling bag going astray) does happen. But I’m tired of people acting like wild animals (exaggerated slightly) when on the road or air. It isn’t okay and people should be horrified. I heard a man at a food kiosk not ask politely for service but say ‘gimme’ to the employee. Gimme? How about May I have and Please and Thank You.

  17. “Board early if you can.” Uhh, if you are assigned to group 4 or 5 you have no choice about when to board – you board with group 4 or 5. And no matter what you do to improve your boarding group number, someone will always be in group 4 or 5 if the airline has those group numbers.

  18. Is a purse ever considered a carry-on bag? So far I have not had a problem, but I carry a cross-body purse that more resembles a mssgr. bag. Is there an airline that would charge for having this on the plane?

    1. If that is your only “personal item” (which differs from a “carry on”) and fits within the specified dimensions for an article to be placed under the seat in front of you, no one is charging for that…..yet.

      1. Wait a minute – did you check the *dimensions* of that personal item to ensure that it is truly a “personal item”?? :-p (Referencing that rather vigorous discussion of carry-on vs. personal item from 3 weeks or so back.)

    2. See this recent article on this site: http://elliott dot org/can-this-trip-be-saved-2/shocked-spirits-luggage-fees-can-help-get-refund/

      Much of the discussion revolved around differentiating between a personal item and a carry-on, which is determined by the carrier’s guidelines. You might want to measure your purse and check the airline, just to be sure.

      1. Yes…just because it “may” fit under the seat in front of you, it STILL may not qualify as a “personal item”. Checking Frontier for example, a personal item must not exceed 18″ x 14″ x 8″ and must be placed under the seat in front of you. If it is larger than that, even it still fits under the seat, it would be a “carry on” and subject to fees. But, you can then place it in the overhead.

    3. Easy answer is it depends on the airlines. Does your purse fit in your suit/coat? (i.e like a wallet? If it does, then clearly not, if you’re carrying it, then yes.

      The European airlines have become very clear. If you can’t put it in your pocket and you need to carry it, it’s a carry on and you get one.

      Plus ….

      Some of them on a full flight will now bump carry on items.


      Unless they are even smaller.

  19. I guess corporate greed and lack of respect for fellow humans is so commonplace that it simply accepted as part of life. Yes, when you put people in unfair, ridiculous predicaments ( like trying unsuccessfully not to be gouged) you can expect a variety of negative behaviors. Despicable airline policies create the problem and they could fix it too. I don’t think peoples negative reactions to being taken advantage of should be a surprise to anyone.

    1. Doesn’t explain why the SAME behavior takes place on Southwest. The blame is mostly on the traveller here.

  20. One more reason to take Amtrak. Seriously. Of course I know it’s not always possible, but often it is, with travel taking place overnight or over a weekend. There’s never a problem with luggage, and it’s relaxing and enjoyable. Try it!

  21. After a 5-hour delay on a United commuter-sized connector flight from EWR to BWI (bad weather, only one operational runway and out-of-commission air tram between terminals,) there was no evidence that United is doing anything different to enforce baggage rules. This was last night. The FA kept announcing over and over and over and over again that people should step out of the aisle to let others reach their seats. How can passengers just step aside without stowing their bags? United did not ask people to tag their roller boards for gate checking before the flight boarded.

    1. In Houston and Denver they have placed new sizer bins at each gate. A step in the right direction? 🙂

      Commuter flights have always had a terrible lack of carry on space.

    2. Since my home airport generally uses (code-shared) regional jets to get me to a larger hub and larger plane, I run into this problem all of the time. Delta is the only carrier that’s pro-active about the problem; a gate agent makes an announcement (which we may understand or not), then goes around with gate check tags in his or her hand, giving them to travelers with bags that probably won’t fit in the overhead bins. I had to fly out on United and asked the gate agent about a tag; she told me to wait until I got to the plane door and the FAs would give me a tag if it wouldn’t fit. Delta and United use the same size regional jets. Boarding times on Delta are so much faster at my airport. Wonder why?

  22. My biggest peeve are passengers with back seats that get on first place their bags up in front of the plane and not around where they’re sitting. Then persons sitting in front have to either place bags in back or check them at gate. Passengers should have to use their “designated space” and not just front of the plane.

  23. Elliot shares some of my pet peeves. Yes, we have not been taught proper carry on luggage manners. I remember the flight well. I am on my way to England and finally was allowed to board . My seat was at the bulkhead right behind first class. So that means no seat in front or a place to put my carry on. But for some reason there was a big honkin suitcase right there. I asked the fellow row mates if this could be moved and everyone said that it was not theirs.
    So I raised the issue of the bag and my small carry on needing a home. After asking several if it were their travel trunk the flight attendant removed the U-Haul from the overhead so the 3 of us in the row could stow our gear.
    There was a loud voice from 33F hollering why his Allied Moving Van was being moved. He was upset because by now the overhead where he was sitting was full and his efficiency apartment would now be checked. He was mad. He did not want to carry this to the rear and it was our fault.
    Yea, I get irritated.
    But of course the time the “lady” who wanted not only the whole overhead but my under seat as well. “Ah guess ah should have packed better.” Ah, no, you should have packed, period.

  24. I would LOVE for their to be carry-on charges for all luggage that isn’t a true carry on bag. If you want to take your giant suitcase on the plane to save time after the flight, feel free. But your doing that has a material negative effect on my flight experience, so I have no problem with your having to pay for it. Hopefully that’ll encourage you to check and make my life a little bit better.

  25. If (as in California) you can’t even get another driver to pause so you can merge onto/off of the freeway properly, how can you expect them to give a darn about someone else on an airplane? It’s hopeless. UA has stepped up to enforce carryone rules … we can only hope it works, because leaving it to “manners” ain’t gonna cut it. The next time someone smashes their monster bag into my head as they go by, I’m going to scream … perhaps if we get the pilots involved, people will behave.

  26. Just one bag. Ten pounds. Well thought out and researched ” just enough and no more” items. All light weight dry versions of toiletries and laundry items. NO 311 baggie. Eight ounce backpack. Wear clothes with a lot of pockets. One pair of shoes. Every item of clothing ultra light weight hand washable quick dry fabrics and nothing else. It all fits under the seat. It’s easily accessible. Easy to handle. Easy to carry. Why put up with the hassle? Why perform grueling manual labor on vacation?

    It can be done. I do it! Traveling ultra light is so sweet! What is sweetest is when the airline representative asks “….that’s IT?? That’s all you have??”

  27. Flying home from Vegas, I watched open mouthed as a women came on board with: 1 huge purse, a carry on roller bag, a tote bag, and 2 large handled shopping bags. She put them ALL in the overhead bin across the aisle and one row up from me. I said, “Um, you’re only supposed to put 1 bag up there.” She looked at me blankly as if she didn’t speak English and sat down. I carry on 1 bag with my laptop and a wallet in it so that I can get on and off quickly and so that people who really NEED to bring carry ons can do so. She just exemplified everything I hate when I travel all in one little package. But what REALLY torques my giblets is that she GOT ON THE PLANE WITH ALL THAT. No gate agents stopped her. No FAs stopped her. NOBODY CARED. Pfft I’m getting irritated all over again thinking about it.

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