As a former system manager of baggage services for more than 50 cities, author, consultant to air travelers, speaker, and veteran of the airlines for almost 20 years, I can assure you your attempts to carry your luggage on board a flight is not an end all cure all anymore to your luggage woes. Are you at risk? You bet you are!
Carry-on bags are fast becoming a risk no less than checking your luggage with your valuables. Let me explain.
So you say you are a savvy traveler? I have helped many a savvy “self proclaimed” traveler who found themselves in a situation of luggage perils and losses.
The added baggage fee that is now being imposed by most airlines is only going to complicate an already frustrating problem of loss, damage, delay, and pilferage of your luggage and the entire air traveling experience in today’s world.
You will see longer waits in check-in lines due to the processing of the checked baggage fees by credit card or cash, heated arguments in the fairness of the new fee and why as your customer I should not have to pay this fee. I can see the mayhem now, can you?
More and more un-savvy travelers or once a year travelers will be packing bags full to try to carry-on and avoid the checked baggage fees.
Next you will see the airlines charge a fee if you want to board before everyone else (I think some airlines are already offering this option) as overhead space will now become a baggage real estate commodity rather than a perk for savvy travelers.
More and more of you will have your carry-on bags taken from you by irritated, underpaid, overworked, airline crews who deal with an irritated traveling public and who probably received a note in their work mailbox announcing another lost benefit or a pay cut that day.
Weight and balance folks, ever hear of it? How does it impact you and your bags? Airlines are talking about reinstating the turbo prop aircraft as opposed to the newer RJ’s (regional jets) some of you have seen come into replace turbo prop aircraft in the recent past. Why you ask? The turbo prop aircraft is more fuel efficient than the RJ yet this problem still affects RJ’s and all aircraft regardless of size.
This is relevant to you because in the recent years do you remember the crash of the commuter flight in the Carolinas where 19 passengers and crew of 3 lost their lives? The investigation into the cause of the crash determined the aircraft was overweight and the weight and balance was off. This prompted the FAA to impose a new rule for bag weight documenting for all flights. This is why every bag is now weighed upon check-in and documented.
Any aircraft has to be within weight and balance limits. Let’s put this into perspective for you. Weight and balance of an aircraft is like a teeter totter if you remember as a kid. We all tried to balance our weight so the board stayed even and we did not have to sit high up in the air while our obnoxious friend kept us in high up limbo because he or she had a few pound advantages over us making them tail heavy…..
Airplanes are the same; they have to be balanced for all things to work on take-off.
More and more travelers are trying to carry their bags on jet and commuter flights (large jets do have more capacity than small aircraft) and the trend has now turned to the airlines bumping bags to accommodate paying customers with a seat and “promise” to send your bag on the next flight to reunite it with you at your destination but they do not tell you when the next flight to accommodate your bag will be.
With fuller flights on commuter aircraft these days, I have seen bags sit in your departure city for days before a flight came along with fewer passengers than bags and now your bag can be accommodated well after you have been at your destination without your bag.
The reality of the problem is to understand all that YOU CAN DO to protect yourself and how? This is where I come in. I am an expert on this subject and the first in my industry to realize that if travelers are truly educated with the inside knowledge on how to protect themselves and their luggage, then and only then can you become a truly savvy air travel consumer.
So what should you do to protect yourself if this happens to you and it will in time if you travel by air?
You can remove your valuables from your bag if there is time to do so, if not, ask the flight attendant for their name and also ask that the gate agent put a comment in your PNR or personal name record in the computer stating that you were forced to check your carry-on against your will and ask for a printed copy of this for your records, it only takes a minute to do this. Do this with calmness and resolve in your voice as not to be labeled an unruly passenger to only become a target for the airport police and possibly be detained for questioning.
Be prepared and have a plan to protect yourself and your property. Doing the above will provide you with a possible case in the eyes of the CBS manager (Central baggage services manager) who will be in charge of compensating you for your losses. Doing this can also give you leverage in a court of law. Yet no guarantees apply. Prepare yourself for the scenario when you face it and forget about if I face it. No longer is it a question of will this happen to me? The reality is what I should do when it DOES happen to me.
If you really need your bag and your belongings in tact when you arrive to your destination, ship it via FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the U.S. Postal service and pay the price then and not after you arrive to our destination or home again.
I hope you find this information valuable to your travel in today’s complicated and frustrating world of air travel. But make no mistake, do travel and make the best of your reason for traveling, just be safe and protect the very essence of your reason for traveling.
Keep in mind, my mission is to help you the air traveler with this growing problem and I will answer your luggage question for free through my website at scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com
May you and your bags always end up in the same destination at the same time and both in tact and happy, sigh, you can now enjoy being one of the few travelers who made it to your higher purpose, what’s that? Oh #@%!*%# now I have to go back from hence I came and face the same complicated, irritating challenge! Darn!!
Scott T. Mueller
Author, The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage
When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog….
While working as an airline baggage service manager, I received a call one day from a woman who said her bag was lost, that is not uncommon these days as many of you know. She was frantic, so I did what I did best, used empathy (sincerely) and listened to what her itinerary was etc. From Maine on airline “A” then connecting to another airline “B” of which the two are not associated you see. But carrier “B” being the final carrier accepts responsibility even though when the dust settled, airline “A” created all the problems to begin with.
So I listened to this nice elderly lady and then told her that everything would be ok and if the bag was not found in 30 days from the date of loss, I would buy her a new bag and replace the contents that would be covered by my airline’s “Contract of Carriage” (Do you know what this is?) And of course, items that are not covered certainly would pertain to what she had packed in her luggage in this case……………. Yes, you already have the clue from the tag line.
Unknowingly, she had packed her husbands remains and that of his favorite dog to take to their vacation home and sprinkle his and doggies remains together per his dying wish and a good wish.
She thought anything would be safe in her checked luggage, even her beloved husband and doggies ashes. So I offered her my home phone number to call me when ever she needed to while I did my best to locate the checked bag that mysteriously disappeared. She continued calling and crying and of course her distraught sons one who is a reporter and the other an attorney were preparing to put my company out of business.
I did all I could to find her beloved loved ones but to no avail. Finally 30 days later, airline “A” called my customer at home and told her “Are you missing a bag” Oh my!! yes with tears streaming down her eyes so plans were made to express mail her loved ones to her where she lived.
That was the happy part of this story, although tragedy was avoided, elderly customer called me to chew me a new back side and told me I did nothing to find her bag and loved ones because airline “A” had the bag for 30 days. Here in lies the problem, since it came to be that airline “A” never entered her bag into the world wide lost luggage computer system that most airlines use, nor did they use the ID tag she had on the bag with her name, address, and phone number until 30 days later! You may also be asking why the lost luggage store in Alabama stocks its shelves with 7000 of your lost luggage items every day for resale.
You see, when bags are delayed, lost, damaged, or pilfered, it does help to understand the process and your rights, what a Contract of Carriage is and what it covers. Allow me to help you with my new book on this topic specifically written to turn the tide of this growing problem. Go on and check it out plus I will offer you free consulting through my website or here. Safe travels to you always.
Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage
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