Monday, April 19, 2010

On Baggage

Writing this at 20,000 feet, I have two thoughts – 1) In-flight WiFi would be so much cooler if they actually gave you enough room to open a laptop properly, and 2) Senator Schumer, who I'm normally a big fan of, has it all wrong with regards to baggage fees.

He's gotten a bunch of airlines to agree not to charge for carry-on bags. In my opinion, this is missing seven vital words: if they also charge for checked baggage.

I twittered about this the last time I flew domestically, and my carry-on bag was snatched from me at the door of the plane because the flight was too full for it. Think about it: Checking luggage is, for the most part, a huge hassle. Yes, you can carry more stuff and not worry about the sizes of your liquids, but it's time-consuming and stresses a lot of people out (including me), with fears of things getting lost or damaged or not making connecting flights. By contrast, carrying-on is a convenience. You get to keep your stuff with you, save time at check-in and save a lot of time upon landing. On most planes there aren't actually as many overhead compartments as seats, so it's impossible for every passenger to have a roll-aboard or a garment bag. Also, most people are stupid and/or selfish, and don't use the compartments at their seats, creating a terrible jam-up during boarding and exiting (like "tweeting," I refuse to say "deplaning").

I would be thrilled to pay for carry-on luggage (provided, as I said, that checking – and purses, laptop bags, etc. – remain free). Isn't this how it's supposed to work? We pay for convenience. The less-convenient option is free. It would have the added benefit of reducing the number of carry-ons onboard, thus making more space available, and allowing for better traffic flow.

Seriously, how does everyone not win in this scenario? I mean, except for the people who think everything should be free while also decrying "socialism." But that's another post entirely.


Jake said...


Would we be willing to pay more for our airfare and get free baggage?

Adam807 said...

Well, Spirit claims they're lowering fares in exchange for the bag fees. The Spirit plan does sound like it's bilking people, but I do think charging for things not everyone uses (with lower base fares) does make sense. Why pay the higher fare that includes a service you don't use?

A. Scott said...

"Why pay the higher fare that includes a service you don't use?"

Of course, for some things it's better to spread the cost around -- large pools of health insurance risk, including closed captions in all tv sets so that deaf people don't have to pay hundreds for a special feature, etc.

I hate charging for bags at all, but I prefer that if they are going to charge, they might as well do it in a way that encourages checking over carrying on.