August 12, 2010

"The airlines have created a monster" — carry-on luggage.

Steven Slater — the mad-as-hell flight attendant — explains:
... the trouble began with the advent of the rolling bag. The worst year I recall was 1997, before the 1+1 limits came on, and before the airlines increased the overhead bin size. The 727. MD-80, and 757 were ridiculous...
 
We got a break after 9/11, in fact despite the challenges of those events, it became SO much easier to fly, for those of us who still HAD jobs, with the more stringent enforcement of policies. Now it is again a free for all.
Air travel is horrible, but if it was 9/11 that made us more docile and obedient, it's nice that we've got our old edge back. Not that I want to be crammed into a metal tube with you selfish bastards.

54 comments:

TRO said...

If it's 10 hours and under I drive. And I'll go 15 if I have a co-pilot.

Nick said...

Maybe if the airlines didn't lose people's luggage so often people wouldn't have to use the overhead bins.

rcocean said...

I wish they'd just get rid of carry-on luggage. I'm getting tired of waiting 15 minutes while everyone stuffs their too large bags into the too small overhead bins. And then repeating the experience on landing.

Of course, nothing will change. The hoity-toity bastards in 1st class are unaffected.

stonelight said...

Airplanes are so sizeist

I will gladly drive across America (and have, several times) rather than fly

the seats discriminate against us regular sized people (over 6' and 200#)

aronamos said...

Wahwahwah. Why didn't Tinkerbelle go dig ditches for a living.

prairie wind said...

Maybe if the airlines didn't lose people's luggage so often people wouldn't have to use the overhead bins.

Exactly. If only we dared travel without carry-ons.

knox said...

I'd rather take a road trip, but if you have limited vacation time and your destination is far, you pretty much have to fly.
It's too bad. Flying used to feel like such an event, now it's a trial.

PoNyman said...

I travel occasionally for business. The airlines lost two bags and misdirected another before I wised up and carried on. After the checked baggage fee was tacked on getting an unchecked bag onto a plane became a tedious and sometimes fruitless affair. I'm not much for crowds so I'm typically the guy who will wait on the plane until everyone deboards. Since I travel for business I can just charge the company for the check bag fee and get back to my habit of being the last off the plane, too. Oh, I love the freedom, just hope that the money is going towards increased precautions on where my bag is located.

Bruce Hayden said...

One big problem with carry-on luggage is that if you fly with pretty much anyone except for SWA, you have to pay for anything you check. So, when I fly United, I try to carry as much as I can on-board, and then get a window seat, so I can be in boarding group #2 (for better than a decade, I was Premier or Premier Exec with them, and was in BG #1).

So, all they would have to do on most of these airlines is just quit gouging for checked baggage and a lot more over-head bin space would open up.

With SWA, I check my baggage a fair amount, and they haven't lost any yet... But they routinely lose my girlfriend's luggage - presumably because she barely makes the 1 hour cutoff.

So, keep in mind that the frequent fliers almost always get to board first, and they grab the premium bin space. Indeed, I am one of the culprits, on United for better than a decade, and now with Southwest, I am on early enough to be able to get both my suitcase and rolling computer bag ("personal item" equivalent to a purse) in overhead bins.

Finally, as to driving, the other attorneys in my office drive to the Bay area, maybe 4 hours away. I drive to the Reno airport (1 hour), and then fly. I am more rested, and sometimes even get something done as a result.

I think maybe the difference is the amount that you fly - I have flown somewhere around 50 flights a year for maybe 15 years now, and so not a lot phases me. About the worst thing that happens is some big guy sitting in the middle seat next to me in the exit row (with the extra foot room).

peprgirl said...

After missing a connecting flight home waiting at the turn style for my bag after a flight from Barbados to Miami I will never check a bag again then have to go through customs.

I will wear the same clothes for a week then spend 12 hours in Miami International again.

Scott M said...

It's easy to understand why this media phenom is happening. Everyone that flies knows how bad it's gotten, but everyone puts up with it, grudgingly, because it's the quickest way to get somewhere. This was bound to happen sooner or later in one form or another.

He should have gone down the slide screaming "WHERE THE FUCK ARE OUR FLYING CARS??? WE WERE PROMISED FLYING CARS!!!

bearing said...

I had no idea flight attendants weren't paid for any work they do during boarding.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Things I will NOT put into my checked bags because they will be stolen or the lugagge will be lost.

Jewelry
Laptop computer
Anything electronic Ipod etc
Camera(s)
Cell phone
Contact lenses and stuff
Pills and prescriptions
Books and study materials
Presentations and work related items needed at the other end.

Personal stuff: I carry in my purse such as credit cards, identification, calculators, pens pads of paper etc.


Coat or jacket I'm wearing
In addition I carry on a change of clothing and an extra pair of shoes so when the luggage is lost or delayed I can dress.

Stuff that has been taken/stole from my checked luggage. Clothing, shoes, perfume, make up, corkscrew, pocket knife, extra batteries, spare purse, books...and EVEN my knitting project!!!

I used to take some knitting with me when I traveled so I could make socks, but since they are afraid that I'm going to stab someone to death with my size 2 knitting needles, I don't take it any more.

I also drive anymore rather than fly. Anything under 12 hours is driveable.

Joe said...

Slater's an ass, but he's dead right on this. Thing is, we don't even need a new set of rules, just enforcement of the existing ones.

(I've never had my luggage lost and I've done really weird flight schedules, though United once lost my brother's luggage and my cameraman once had his luggage not show up after we did a lightening transfer through LAX.)

On the other hand, it annoys me that the airlines don't have anything in place for the few occasions someone needs to exceed the carry-on size (likely carrying on an $80,000 camera or a guitar without a hard case.) I'm not talking free, but to charge a reasonable fee and to use the computer to make sure only a limited number of people are doing this on a given flight.

traditionalguy said...

People need to chill out and wait their turn. No dynamic system runs smoothly everyday every time. Then the bullies and the lawless ones cause 100% of the human reaction problems. Lack of respect for others causes unmannered people to respect no authority. Thank God for the remaining examples of a Christian culture who try to love their neighbors.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So, when I fly United, I try to carry as much as I can on-board, and then get a window seat,

I like the aisle seat so I can have more leg room and lean over if there isn't room. Plus if I want go get up and use the restroom, I don't have to climb over people.

Window seat is good if it is a long flight so you can lean your head against the wall.

Class factotum said...

I had no idea flight attendants weren't paid for any work they do during boarding.

I don't think the flight attendants or the pilots get paid until the doors close. Then their hours end when the doors open again.

edutcher said...

I don't begrudge the guy who travels for business who has to jam his stuff into an overnight bag and a bag for his laptop.

I do begrudge the idiot who has to cram ten cartons of rum and 5 bags of souvenirs in the overheads and expects everybody to wait on them while they load and unload (often while loaded).

We were once on a plane that was kept waiting over an hour while some princess had to run back into the airport to retrieve the leather jacket she left at the bar.

PS They made us check our carryons coming back to the US last time and proceeded to soak them in antifreeze on the tarmac. That's almost as bad as stealing from them.

Tell the little twerp to man up a little.

tim maguire said...

As many here have pointed out, the carry on problem is a rational response by passengers to airline policy and reality. Carry on bags don't get lost, don't get abused by callous handlers, don't get rifled through and valuables stolen, and don't get check fees.

I expect airlines will respond by adding a carry-on fee.

halojones-fan said...

tim: Spirit Airlines is already doing that!

LarsPorsena said...

Flying today has all the charm that taking a Trailways bus did 30 years ago.

LL said...

Well, this clown didn't have to take a job as a flight attendant. His actions certainly guaranteed he will no longer be doing that particular job.

I recently flew and I had the aisle seat. A morbidly obese woman sat next to me and took the middle seat. She proceeded to lift the arm rest separating our seats in order to put her seat-belt on. Her morbidly obese body them spilled over into my seat and she literally took 1/3rd of my seat. I am 6.1 and weigh 200 lbs. It was a 1:48 flight and I was pissed.

Scott M said...

I recently flew and I had the aisle seat. A morbidly obese woman sat next to me and took the middle seat. She proceeded to lift the arm rest separating our seats in order to put her seat-belt on. Her morbidly obese body them spilled over into my seat and she literally took 1/3rd of my seat. I am 6.1 and weigh 200 lbs. It was a 1:48 flight and I was pissed.

Did you say anything or just deal with it?

Dust Bunny Queen said...

Did you say anything or just deal with it?

I had that situation.

First I asked if she would please put the arm rest back down as she was crowding me.

When she refused I said something along the lines of : "Look I paid for my seat and you are sitting in one third of MY seat. Either put down the armrest and stay in your own seat or pay me for 1/3 of MY seat. I don't feel like sharing with you today." (always tactful ...not)

She did: and pouted the rest of the flight. Had she not, I was prepared to make a scene, loudly point out to everyone on the plane that lardo was smothering me and yell for the flight attendant.

Thankfully it was a pretty short flight, commuter hop of about 45 minutes....and since she was grossly obese....I made a fast getaway before she could crush me with her bulk.

Mostly, though, people are fairly good about trying to stay in their space. The seats are so damned small that even an undersized person can be cramped.

Methadras said...

I travel between SFO/OAK to San Diego and back to either one every weekend and have been doing it for a very long time now. I fly southwest and I see a lot of regulars. Never once are they ever on time gate to gate or even on take-off the entire time I've been flying with them. However, never once has the carry on baggage ever been an issue on any flights I've taken between these routes, but I've whittled down my carry-on to a backpack that can hold a couple of days worth of clothes and my laptop, my mobile, my keys, my wallet, and my iPod and that's it.

I can use the overhead or put it under the seat. What I do despise however are very young children on planes. Enduring an hour and a half of screaming at the top of his lungs while his parents look like forlorned zombies incapable of dealing with their little shrieking mess. And what the hell is it with these women and their huge Felix the Cat purses that are larger than some forest creatures? But overall, I've never seen a rude passenger in all the time I've been flying, however, I've seen a couple of sassy stewards get testy.

I will admit that I got into a little verbal with a steward over my ear buds still being in my ear even though they were completely disconnected from any electronic device. But that's about it.

Larry J said...

I'm on a business trip and will fly home tomorrow afternoon. Simple rules I follow:

1. Pack light. I was able to carry everything I needed for a 10 night business trip (including a CPAP machine) in a single carry on bag and a laptop bag. Doing laundry isn' that hard.

2. Get to the airport early enough to get through security. I don't rest easy until I'm at my gate.

3. Grow up. The airlines don't control the weather so getting mad at those delays accomplished nothing but making you look like an ass. On the flip side, the airlines need to do a better job taking care of people whose flights get canceled or if they miss their connection due to a delay. One problem is that the planes are so full, there are few empty seats to give to people who were bumped from another flight. I'm traveling tomorrow afternoon and thunderstorms are always a possibility. I've allowed over 2 hours at my connection and hope that's enough should there be a problem.

Methadras said...

Scott M said...

He should have gone down the slide screaming "WHERE THE FUCK ARE OUR FLYING CARS??? WE WERE PROMISED FLYING CARS!!!


You don't know how many times of I've said that.

ALP said...

There are no words in English to describe how much I hate flying. I wish I spoke German - they probably have a good word for it.

I am just under 5 feet tall - and I feel cramped on a plane. Its the only time I'm glad I'm that short. I cannot imagine the hell a taller person endures .

Methadras said...

Dust Bunny Queen said...

So, when I fly United, I try to carry as much as I can on-board, and then get a window seat,

I like the aisle seat so I can have more leg room and lean over if there isn't room. Plus if I want go get up and use the restroom, I don't have to climb over people.

Window seat is good if it is a long flight so you can lean your head against the wall.


I fly SWA and as an A-lister, I am one of the first people on the plane. My strategy is two fold. I will either grab the front row seats (non-middle of course) or if they are occupied, I will immediately head to the emergency exit row either window or aisle. SWA fleet is 737's. It takes about 15 - 20 minutes to board everyone without issue, but they routinely run out of overhead space and then they have to check those bags in which takes another 5 - 10 minutes.

There used to be a glamor to flying, but now you are just cattle going from point A to point B. I wish SWA at least carried other snacks besides peanuts or pretzels on their short hop flights. Chips, cookies, some other kind of candy would be nice. Their drinks are pretty good and I get those for free usually. All around a decent experience, but in all honesty, I'd rather not drive 20 hours total from the East Bay to San Diego because that means I have to go through LA and I hate LA. Plus the cost to fly is far cheaper than to for me to drive, not to mention the extra time I save to spend with my family. For around $110 - $250 depending on when I book it, the cost is totally worth it.

wv = pusswar = guess who lost it?

Methadras said...

LL said...

I recently flew and I had the aisle seat. A morbidly obese woman sat next to me and took the middle seat. She proceeded to lift the arm rest separating our seats in order to put her seat-belt on. Her morbidly obese body them spilled over into my seat and she literally took 1/3rd of my seat. I am 6.1 and weigh 200 lbs. It was a 1:48 flight and I was pissed.


I've had the same problem too on a couple of occasians. Fatty McFat sits in the middle and then lifts the arm rest and expect me to accomodate. NOPE. I ask them politely to put down the arm rest and then I hear the complains of their discomfort. One fatty got so mad at me for asked her to do that, she literally said this and I'll never forget it to this day, she said, "I have a right to occupy the space I require for my personal comfort because I am a 'person of size' and you can't discriminate against me by making such an unreasonable request to life the arm rest."

I just looked at her Stay Puft Marshmellow face and said, "Lady, I don't give a fuck if you are an anorexic dreaming of purging her last twinkie, please put the armrest down, control your personal slab onto your own seat space or buy two tickets so you can have both seats to accommodate your 'personage of size'." That got her nice and pissed, You could see grease being squeezed out of her pores in anger and she goes, "You can't talk to me like that..." and I just stopped and her said, "Honey, I asked you nicely, you took it personally, but since you continue I'll end it for you. Until you stop chowing down on two venti sized starbucks and a couple of pastries and then going to the UNO's pizza concession and getting three pepperoni's to wolf down before the flight and wash that down with a couple of refills of coke, then to watch you waddle over to the bookstore/newspaper stand and glom onto a handful of M&M's and shove them down your throat, you don't have the 'right' to call yourself a 'person of size'." So then I called a stewardess over and asked her if this lady can be moved because she is clearly in distress over the seating arrangement and since I was already here, she should accommodate me.

The stewardess looked at her and said, "ma'am, the flight is full and you can either get off this flight and buy two tickets to satisfy your seating situation or kindly comply with this gentleman's request." She huffed and puffed, but ultimately, tubby calmed down. Turns out, Chubby McDonut was having her last hurrah on her way to lap band surgery. Oh and her name was Helen.

wv = pennis = I'm having a trifecta of WV today.

HT said...

LL said...

Well, this clown didn't have to take a job as a flight attendant. His actions certainly guaranteed he will no longer be doing that particular job.

___

the thing of it is though, he was probably really good at his job. I clicked on the cited article and it talks about his postings on airline blogs, even under fake names. Is it legal to post people's fake names like that? Could they really search his computer?

I support the guy, though, again, the part that got me is that i heard he used to be an alcoholic and so he grabs two beers on the way down? What's he saying? I don't give a rat's ass about my life anymore? Not the affirmative statement that I wanted to see.

HT said...

Hey! Here's someone who got it (reason for obesity) right!

Until you stop chowing down on two venti sized starbucks and a couple of pastries and then going to the UNO's pizza concession and getting three pepperoni's to wolf down before the flight and wash that down with a couple of refills of coke, then to watch you waddle over to the bookstore/newspaper stand and glom onto a handful of M&M's and shove them down your throat, you don't have the 'right' to call yourself a 'person of size'."

All carbs.

Calypso Facto said...

On each of the last 4 flights I've taken (Delta and Continental) the airline's checked bag fee has ensured that all the overhead bins were crammed full when the plane got to about 3/4 capacity and we had to then wait while all the rest of the people boarding surrendered their carry on bags for stowing underneath. One more insult in an increasingly ugly way to travel....

reader_iam said...

I just think the seats are too damn narrow. My husband fits in the seat just fine...but his shoulders are just too wide (and no, it's not due to obesity or pumping iron). Being a polite sort, he hunches in, which means that at the end of a flight of any length, given his bad back, he's damn near crippled.

As for me, this seat narrowness was really brought home to me in the late 90s when I did a *lot* of flying for consulting work. The worst was getting caught in the middle seat between two big guys (I'm not saying fat, I'm saying like 6 feet or so plus wide shouldered, etc.).

I'm a short lady, so inevitably when they'd try to shift, they'd hit a tit. When you get that action going on from both sides, it gets old (not to mention embarrassing) pretty damn quick. Even my sense of humor had a hard time transcending that.

All that, plus the post 9/11 security hassles and now the whole baggage thing means it takes an emergency, like a funeral, or a trip of more than 1,500 to get me into a plan. Thank God neither of those cases arise often.

Lucien said...

Unfortunately, the air carriers exacerbate the situation because they ask those of us iwth smaller items of carry on baggage to stow it under the seat in front of us --to make more room for the folks with extra large carry-on bags.

If your reward bad behavior, you get more of it.

The carriers should make sure that EVERY piece of carry-on luggage meets the very clearly expressed size limitations published by the airlines.

Of course, then they would have to deal with the whining.

At least when someone with 30 items gets in the "15 items or less" line at the supermarket, the checker doesn't ask the rest of us to let them go first.

To quote Hayley Williams "I Refuse I Refuse, I Refuse!"

former law student said...

Flying quit being fun twenty years ago. But I took Continental recently and had a whole decade flashback: Free snacks comprising real food, not just items from the 7-11 checkout lane. In-flight movies! Space for your carryons! Legroom!

American Airlines execs should fly Continental.

There was a bag check fee, but I wasn't be going long enough to need more than my carry on.

edutcher said...

Seat width, for those who don't know, hasn't changed since the Depression, when people were a lot thinner.

LL said...

Scott M: I don't like flying so I take a lot of ativan. I said nothing because of the ativan and sense of resignation. The flight was full, she was the last person aboard. I also thought that she couldn't immediately do anything about her morbid obesity. I wanted to be a gentleman in an uncomfortable and awkward situation. Internally, I was still pissed but I didn't show it.

Methadras: That is hilarious. Kudos to you. I would have loved to have been there.

reader_iam said...

Perhaps seat width wasn't the most precise way to put it. Measurement from center of seat back to center of the next seat back, maybe?

Anyway, I easily fit in airline seats. But not all even not-obese passengers do, and so more often than not us fitters end up "sharing," to one degree or another, one way or another.

Lucien: Your point about under the seat w/smaller bags is true. On the few occasions I have flown in the past few years I always get asked to do that, which, to be fair, does make sense in that due to shortness, I do require less legroom. I did think it a bit much, though, when a seatmate (stranger) wanted to put his small bag under MY seat so he'd have more space. (I just had a handbag with me that time.)

tim maguire said...

I hate flying as much as the next guy, but like it or not, there is a simple reason why flying, which was once glamorous, is now like herding cattle.

It's called deregulation.

And if you want to get around the comfort cost of deregulation, fly first class. It costs what a coach seat would cost you absent deregulation, and you get treated about the same.

Pay cattle prices, get cattle service.

Eric said...

I wish they'd just get rid of carry-on luggage.

That's just not practical. There are lots of things people have that can't be trusted to a baggage system that isn't perfect (and it never will be): Drugs, expensive/sentimental items, medical devices, important papers, fragile electronics, etc.

dick said...

I can deal with the seat width. I am not small but I still fit fairly well. What I have problems with is the legroom. I was flying back from Rio to JFK (17 hours) and I got stuck behind a broad who got in her seat, slammed the seat all the way back and popped a sleeping pill. I asked her nicely to move it up a tad but she wouldn't. I was crammed between 2 other people so I couldn't spread my knees far enough apart to keep from getting mashed. I was recuperating from a bad cold and by the time we got to NYC I had to get a chair to get me through the customs. I would quite cheerfully have slit that broad's throat. I asked the stewardess to help out but nothing got done. I tried to stand up as long as I could but they kept telling me I had to get back in my seat. I guess they were afraid of terrorists at the time. I swore I would never fly that airline again. I had sore knees for 3 days after that.

c3 said...

Fussy JetBlue Flight Attendant Just Wants His Job Back"

Yup, that's gonna happen.

Is his 10 minutes over yet?

The Crack Emcee said...

"The airlines have created a monster"

AKA "My Hero"

Methadras said...

dick said...

I can deal with the seat width. I am not small but I still fit fairly well. What I have problems with is the legroom. I was flying back from Rio to JFK (17 hours) and I got stuck behind a broad who got in her seat, slammed the seat all the way back and popped a sleeping pill. I asked her nicely to move it up a tad but she wouldn't. I was crammed between 2 other people so I couldn't spread my knees far enough apart to keep from getting mashed. I was recuperating from a bad cold and by the time we got to NYC I had to get a chair to get me through the customs. I would quite cheerfully have slit that broad's throat. I asked the stewardess to help out but nothing got done. I tried to stand up as long as I could but they kept telling me I had to get back in my seat. I guess they were afraid of terrorists at the time. I swore I would never fly that airline again. I had sore knees for 3 days after that.


You are lucky you didn't get DVT.

former law student said...

dick -- which airline?

Or are you under a confidentiality agreement?

jaed said...

Seat width, for those who don't know, hasn't changed since the Depression, when people were a lot thinner.

No. Seats have gotten smaller since the 1970s, going from around 21" to the current 17" or so. So has the seat pitch, going from 33.5" to under 31". This while people are getting taller.

GV said...

I routinely carry $10k worth of underwater camera gear. No way will I check it.

First, they reduced the poundage from 70 to 50. Then they limited the size, down to 62 linear inches. Then they started charging for checked bags.

All this, besides losing bags, has driven people to carry-on as much as possible.

While passengers and crew hate it, the airlines love it. This leaves more room for paying cargo in the hold.

The Crack Emcee said...

My post was deleted - why?

I didn't swear or say anything even remotely homophobic.

Ann Althouse said...

I haven't deleted anything.

Ann Althouse said...

I haven't deleted anything.

reader_iam said...

I mistakenly posted the following on the wrong thread (the perils of following stuff via gmail, lol, the reference to which will be come immediately clear.):


In those Blogger threads in which I participate as a commenter--to repeat, in specific,, in those threads in which I participate as a commenter, which means I can really only speak to those, with some sense of surety--I almost without exception have all responses from the original point of my entry into the thread sent to my reader_iam gmail account. (I say almost without exception, because sometimes I get distracted and f-up; for example, on [the other thread in which I participated today], I didn't go through what I have to in order to able to select the box in my original comment to Meade.) Everyone who makes use of that feature does as well.

What that means in practical terms is that almost without exception I see every comment made after my initial (or even only) comment in any given thread. I can also see when commenters have deleted and reposted comments [and the changes made therein, if applicable]. I can also compare what popped up in the e-mail thread with what actually appears in the thread on the blog. Worry not: I almost never find that to be the worth the bother, so much so that I can pretty much remember the rare, rare times I've bothered.

I have been utilizing this feature and seeing these things for years now. (And I absolutely have referred to this before, and here on this very Blogger blog: No attempt at nondisclosure.)

All that is to say that sometimes there are deletions. And sometimes there are claims of deletions when the evidence doesn't appear in the gmail thread.

I think this *mostly* means that Blogger was hiccuping in such a way that it mislead the comment poster (I've absolutely experienced that myself, more than a few times, and not just here). Another possibility is that a commenter mistakenly thought a comment had finished posting before closing a tab, window, application, whatever.

It's also possible that there are methods of deletion out there, amazing scripts and apps and all of that, about which I'm completely ignorant. Wouldn't be the first time. Couldn't be the last.

Still, the basic thing I mention has proven to be overwhelmingly reliable over time: If it appeared in a comment section AFTER I've posted a comment AND when I had that box checked from the start, there's pretty much a virtual trail via e-mail.

Just something to note, ponder, whatever. FWIW.

Largo said...

I can corroborate reader_iam here. Though it is not just blogger. It is a consequence of such email followup functions, regardless of host.

Janet said...

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