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Greg Peck: Flying frustrations are in the bag

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Greg Peck
July 10, 2014

I found Froma Harrop's column in today's Gazette of particular interest. She pans airlines for how they board passengers. Time is money, she points out, and airlines spend much time boarding passengers. What's more, today's passengers, it seems, have everything but the kitchen sink stuffed in those “carry-on” bags, and all are jostling with or squeezing past other passengers while scurrying up and down aisles, trying to find the few remaining holes to shove their midsize suitcases into.

When my wife, Cheryl, and I took our grandson, Remy, to Disney World in May, we dealt with no such hassles. I had a pouch, Remy had a backpack, and Cheryl had a tote—all small enough to slide under the seats. We didn't need space in overhead bins. When our turn to board came, we quickly found our seats and watched as others jockeyed for those coveted, dwindling bin spots.

Of course, we had already paid the airline's hefty checked baggage fees—$25 per suitcase per flight. In other words, our three suitcases cost us $150 round-trip.

That's what makes this boarding scene so annoying. The airlines created this problem.

“As most airlines started charging for checked baggage, the incentives for carting it all on have multiplied,” Harrop wrote. “Boarders in the lower castes (that'd be most of us) well know the inconvenience of taking seats under bins already stuffed with a priority boarder's life possessions.”

Amen.

But because time is money, wouldn't airlines save dollars by dropping fees for checked baggage and instead charging fees to passengers who've crammed their “life possessions” into those “steamer trunks on wheels” that require space in those dangerously overstuffed overhead bins?

Harrop reports that Spirit and Frontier see the light and are among the few airlines that now charge for carry-on bags. Also, Southwest Airlines still lets you check one or two bags at no extra cost.

Good for them. Why don't all airlines do likewise? What am I missing here, besides a relaxing flight at a reasonable cost?

Greg Peck can be reached at (608) 755-8278 or gpeck@gazettextra.com. Or follow him on Twitter or Facebook.



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