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
A special report just released in 2008 from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) reveals that in a three-year period nearly 42,000 travelers have reported items as lost from their luggage at an estimated value of more than $31 Million. We are not talking lost for a couple of days. We are talking lost for good!! Listed as MIA are medicine, clothing, fine jewelry, laptops, perfume and even cell phones. (Keep in mind that these numbers do not necessarily reflect reports of missing items directly reported to the Air Carriers) The Empty Carousel will teach you how to avoid becoming one of these statistics.
Now I have had folks file claims for “alleged” stolen items out of their bags such as: shirts, shorts, shoes, pants, breast pumps (Yeah that is what I said) dirty underwear, fake boobs used in stage theater for an actress, cameras, keys, marijuana (Yeah that is what I said) People have claimed that their illegal drugs were stolen, medication (legal, that is) wallets, make-up, jewelery and the list goes on and on……..
The question you need to ask yourself is, do you know what items mentioned above would be covered and paid for by the airlines if it was taken from your luggage?
Even of the airline pays your claim, do you really think they pay full value back to you? Folks don’t end up being another victim of theft, know what you can do, ask me here or through my website www.TheEmptyCarousel.com and I will be happy to offer you my expert advise for free.
The problems with your luggage when you travel is getting worse by the day and by the year. It is time to turn the tide of this growing problem and I can help you to do that, it all starts with you becoming a savvy traveler. More blogs and more interesting stories will be coming so sign up to get this blog and share what you learn or take from it with your friends and family, together we can make a difference. 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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