We have posted in the past about airline fees. Now Marketplace has a short piece with an ominous title, Checked bag fees lead to cabin chaos (Mar 17). It reports on a survey by the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA), the nation’s largest flight attendants union:
The AFA recently conducted a survey of attendants on 22 different airlines. 80% of them reported overhead bins — overstuffed with heavy bags — are causing injury to attendants and to passengers.
[AFA spokeman BILL] MCGLASHEN: They identified seeing, on a daily basis, passengers being hit on the head, passengers tripping.
All of which led the AFA this week to call for Congress to pass a bill called the Securing Cabin Baggage Act. It would do two things: Set a maximum size for any carry-on bag and force the TSA guards to make sure extra or oversize bags never make it past security checkpoints.
Now it is hardly surprising that checked bag fees are inducing more people to carry on more bags. Nor is it surprising that this is making life harder to flight attendants. It is a little surprising that airlines haven’t been more pro active in taking this on. They should have an interest in maintaining an orderly boarding process, especially if it means more checked bags. They may be concerned about offending travelers, but let’s face it, that ship has sailed. Further, their key passengers wouldn’t be affected. Road warriors who fly tons of miles on their employers dime understand the rules and can work with them. They too want the plane to leave on time and just as soon not be bonked on the head by other people’s bags.
But according the article, airlines oppose this proposal:
The airlines oppose regulation too. They say since every plane has different storage bin sizes, one mandatory carry-on size will not fit all.
This, of course, is ridiculous. Here is a link to American Airline’s baggage rules that include limits on the size of carry-on luggage without any qualifications for the type of plane you will be on. That is, airlines are already willing to impose their own semi-arbitrary rules. Wouldn’t consistent semi-arbitrary rules across airlines make travelers better off?
There may be some truth to that, but does it have to be so hard? Even before 9-11, there were attempts to fit screening machines with templates. Bags that were too big, weren’t screened. Doesn’t that solve the problem? It would just have to be incumbent on the airlines to have a way to efficiently check the bags at that point. I don’t see that this has to be so hard. It just has to be consistent. If the bag is kosher on my outbound flight, it had better be OK on the return leg. Consistency requires national rules. Is that too much to ask for?