Topic of the Week: Do You Approve of United’s Carry-On Enforcement?

United has recently stepped up enforcement of its carry-on rules. Now, you will have to size your bag at the gate. If it’s bigger than 22″ x 14″ x 9″ then you’ll have to check it, and you’ll pay the bag fee to do it. This should mean more bin space for those who follow the rules but it’ll cost you if you don’t. So, do you like this enforcement policy or hate it?

64 Responses to Topic of the Week: Do You Approve of United’s Carry-On Enforcement?

  1. Xnuiem says:

    Meh?

    As a very loyal WN flier, I laugh to myself as I watch people in the late B or C boarding group get on with a huge laptop bag, and a huge carryon. WN doesnt charge for checking bags folks! I have even watched these people do transfers at DEN or MDW lugging that stuff across the terminal. I just dont get it.

    So this move by UA makes sense to me. It may slow down boarding. Possibly by a lot, and it will anger people that will claim “I didnt know”. Perhaps they will put the “Check your bag size here” bins before security, so at least people would have an out. I am unsure if this will stick. It seems very Spirit of UA to do, not really legacy airline. But, as we seem time and time again, the longer it goes, the more the two paradigms move into at least parallel if not sync.

    • John G says:

      There’s a reason why people lug stuff across the terminal and onto the plane. If you don’t check a bag, you have much greater flexibility should there be a cancellation or a delay.

      For me…NEVER NEVER NEVER check a bag if it is at all avoidable. If you have only carry-ons, you can bail on a flight and grab another one quickly. That’s not the case if you have to wait for them to get your bag out of the plane.

      That said, there is also an art to packing. Get a rollerboard that exactly fits, and don’t overstuff it. Also get the largest computer bag you can get, and fill it.

      • Xnuiem says:

        Back in a former life, I agreed completely with you. I was doing short little hops all over the place, rarely more than 70 minute flight time.

        And I couldnt possibly agree more about learning to pack, it is an art. Last week, this guy that had to be C-10, boarded with the largest garment back I have ever seen. It was shocking. Yes, he had to check it after all.

        Oddly, even though I always check my bag, I have had little trouble hopping flights. If you have 60m warning, WN will check it earlier for you. Usually, they will check it on a flight that I am on Stand By for just to make sure it beats me there. If that ever changes, then I am totally with you and back to carry on I go.

    • David says:

      There is a very simple reason why I never check a bag unless I have to – it takes way too long for the airlines to get the bags off the plane and into customers’ hands.

      • Xnuiem says:

        9 times out of 10, this isnt an issue.

        Between grabbing an iced tea, going to the restroom, and catching up on few quick calls/emails, the 10 minutes or less it takes to get my bag to me is not a problem and not slowing me down.

        Now, that said, the other day, I dont remember where, I think SEA, I couldnt believe how long it took to get my bag. > 20 m, which is just unacceptable, so I understand your perspective on this. If they all get that long, back to carry on.

        Honestly though, despite my job and all, I am just not in such a hurry that 10 minutes slows me down enough to matter.

  2. David says:

    Cue lots of wailing and screaming and maybe even threats of lawsuits. After learning the hard way by paying, people will then change the way they pack…

  3. JRS says:

    Should have been enforced from the start but I suspect the employees hate ugly confrontations so they just let it slide and looked the other way. Would be interesting to get some comments from those working the front line on this situation.

    • mermadi says:

      It is less that gate agents hate ugly confrontation–we do– than our fear of delays. If a flight is one minute late, the next sound I hear is the boss calling for a reason for the delay and it better implicate a different work group. I would surely sympathize with UA gate agents if this policy is not strictly enforced.

  4. CP says:

    Yes, there are sometimes people who are forced to check their bag at the gate because it far exceeds the carry-on guidelines, and there are people who bring on over-size bags and stuff them in bins.

    However, planes these days are almost always 100% full. What I see more often than the ridiculous-bag-size-problem is people forced to check a bag that is well-within the carry-on size regulations simply because there is no more room in the overhead bins.

    If United wants, at-the-gate, to charge a person whose bag really is over-sized, I’m fine with that–they really are skirting the rules, and they risk getting caught. However, I am curious how United will handle people who have bags within carry-on regulations for which there simply is no room on the plane–will they get charged? I can imagine those customers would be rightfully upset at having to pay a fee to check their bag.

    I also hope that United has considered a few things about their own performance in this regard:
    –(This isn’t just a United issue): In all my flying, what I’ve noticed makes a world of difference between having to gate-check a bunch of bags and not gate-check a bunch of bags is flight attendants who are really actively managing the boarding process and advising people HOW to put their bags in the bin, and managing space. I understand why flight attendants cannot, for safety/liability reasons, be moving the bags themselves. That does not mean they cannot politely say, “sir, could you put your bag in wheels first?” or “could you please turn your bag length-wise, to save space?”
    –I’m sure no gate agent relishes the thought of collecting the bag fees gate-side, but I hope United has made it as easy as possible: do they have easy credit-card processing? Easy ways of issuing a receipt?, etc. (Delta has really impressed me here: at hubs and major spokes, they’ve put bag scanners gate-side–even on jet bridges–so that gate-check bags can be quickly tagged and processed. No more handwritten tags, etc.)
    –Staffing. I do find that United’s gates are often under-staffed–i.e., only one agent working the flight. So, more often on United than other carriers I fly, passengers are doing the back-down-the-aisle-against-traffic thing, because the gate agent hasn’t asked people to check in advance of boarding (anticipating the lack of space) or simply told people that the space is full. Some of that could be lazy gate agent behavior, but I’m more prone to think it’s task prioritization–ignore the bags and get the plane boarded, the paperwork printed, etc. On AA, in my experience, you’re more likely to have two agents–one that patrols for and tags bags, one that does the pre-flight stuff.

    I get that people ‘bend’ these rules a lot, but the skeptic in me says this is less about passengers who bend the rules and more about Untied enhancing its ‘ancillary’ revenue gate-side. Those gains promised to Wall Street have to come from somewhere…

    • David says:

      Yes, yes, yes! How many times is the flight attendant at the back of the plane doing nothing, the flight attendant at the middle of the plane is flirting with a customer (or talking to the pilot at the back of the plane), and the flight attendant at the front of the plane is flirting with the pilot (or chit-chatting with the gate agent). They need to get people on the plane as quickly as possible, and they can do that by policing the bin space.

      • That flight attendant at the back of the plane doing nothing is stationed there in case they need to evacuate while they’re at the gate.

      • mermadi says:

        Flight attendants tell me they are not compensated for injuries resulting from handling bags for people who packed more than they can manage on their own. Why risk injury when you won’t be able to pay your bills when you’re home on medical leave without pay?

        • CP says:

          I did not recommend that flight attendants handle the bags–in fact, I explicitly said that I understood, for reasons of safety and liability, why they would not. However, not handling bags does not preclude you from asking customers to put bags in the bins correctly, put small bags underneath the seats, etc.

  5. 121 Pilot says:

    I suspect that if they truly get firm on this at the gate then unless they are going to staff every gate with 3-4 agents it’s really going to slow boarding and result in flight delays. And that will bring a quick end to the entire “crackdown”.

    Seperately I really hate the idea of pre-TSA enforcement because you get some contracted person trying to apply United’s rules to everyone. Plus Airlines don’t control airport security access the TSA does so if people want to drag their oversized bags through security that is their right. The airlines responsibility is to ensure compliance when people board.

  6. Weed says:

    I have 2 – 22″ bags that are actually 22 1/2 inches tall, and they will not fit into a 22″ enclosure. I also have a 23″ tall carry-on that fits EVERY United overhead bin (except those tiny Embrarer a/c that no carry-on fits), have flown with this bag for the past 3 years with no problem on UA. So now I need to buy new bags?

  7. jeremy says:

    Gee, what other airline do we kno of that charges a fee at the gate for bags. That’s right, Spirit. Yet people scoffed at the when it was announced, but it seemed to work well enough that United (somewhat) copies their model.

  8. CP says:

    es, there are sometimes people who are forced to check their bag at the gate because it far exceeds the carry-on guidelines, and there are people who bring on over-size bags and stuff them in bins.

    However, planes these days are almost always 100% full. What I see more often than the ridiculous-bag-size-problem is people forced to check a bag that is well-within the carry-on size regulations simply because there is no more room in the overhead bins.

    If United wants, at-the-gate, to charge a person whose bag really is over-sized, I’m fine with that–they really are skirting the rules, and they risk getting caught. However, I am curious how United will handle people who have bags within carry-on regulations for which there simply is no room on the plane–will they get charged? I can imagine those customers would be rightfully upset at having to pay a fee to check their bag.

    I also hope that United has considered a few things about their own performance in this regard:
    –(This isn’t just a United issue): In all my flying, what I’ve noticed makes a world of difference between having to gate-check a bunch of bags and not gate-check a bunch of bags is flight attendants who are really actively managing the boarding process and advising people HOW to put their bags in the bin, and managing space. I understand why flight attendants cannot, for safety/liability reasons, be moving the bags themselves. That does not mean they cannot politely say, “sir, could you put your bag in wheels first?” or “could you please turn your bag length-wise, to save space?”
    –I’m sure no gate agent relishes the thought of collecting the bag fees gate-side, but I hope United has made it as easy as possible: do they have easy credit-card processing? Easy ways of issuing a receipt?, etc. (Delta has really impressed me here: at hubs and major spokes, they’ve put bag scanners gate-side–even on jet bridges–so that gate-check bags can be quickly tagged and processed. No more handwritten tags, etc.)
    –Staffing. I do find that United’s gates are often under-staffed–i.e., only one agent working the flight. So, more often on United than other carriers I fly, passengers are doing the back-down-the-aisle-against-traffic thing, because the gate agent hasn’t asked people to check in advance of boarding (anticipating the lack of space) or simply told people that the space is full. Some of that could be lazy gate agent behavior, but I’m more prone to think it’s task prioritization–ignore the bags and get the plane boarded, the paperwork printed, etc. On AA, in my experience, you’re more likely to have two agents–one that patrols for and tags bags, one that does the pre-flight stuff.

    I get that people ‘bend’ these rules a lot, but the skeptic in me says this is less about passengers who bend the rules and more about Untied enhancing its ‘ancillary’ revenue gate-side. Those gains promised to Wall Street have to come from somewhere…

  9. Olamide Iledare says:

    The only problem I have with this process is the really need some overhead bins for people to clearly see that they don’t fit. I like the measurements and all but seeing is believing. I fly weakly and my bag is a luggage works and is built with those measurements in mind and it does not fit in the carry on thing that they have you test to see if it is to large.

  10. speaketh says:

    CP, overheads bins are already full, and unlucky final boarders are already forced to gate check their bags. As far as I know, an involuntary gate check of a legal-sized carry-on item due to lack of bin space is free on all airlines on which carry-ons fly for free.

    This policy should reduce the number of involuntary free gate checks for the unlucky final borders, partially by reducing average bag size, and partially by shifting the burden to paid gate checks for those with illegal-sized carry-ons.

    I am all for regulations that shift the burden from the unlucky final boarders to those who don’t follow the rules. I expect United favors this policy not because it’s fairer, but instead because it means fewer free gate-checks, more paid gate-checks, and reduced chance of full overhead bins (and associated time wasting on the ground).

  11. David SF eastbay says:

    Arent’ the bag sizers/sizes for under the seat space and not for over head bins? Different aircraft and different seats on the same airplane can have different under seat measurements, so how do airlines come up with these sizes and what area of the plane are they talking about?

  12. MeanMeosh says:

    As someone who has had my regulation-size carryon confiscated more than once because of other people bringing on oversized and/or excessive baggage, I absolutely, positively, 100% support a crackdown on cabin baggage. However, I foresee a few problems that will, I believe, ultimately be the downfall of such an effort:

    1) Gate agents, in fairness not just at UA, are notoriously inconsistent when it comes to enforcing policies, on cabin baggage or anything else, and this crackdown is going to require 100% participation to work effectively. Otherwise, what is UA going to do when someone boards at Station A, where the gate agent doesn’t enforce the rule, and then has their bag taken away at Connecting Station B, where they are enforcing? Cue up the “but they let me board at [XYZ] with it!!!”.
    2) As CP points out, what about someone who has a properly sized bag, but just can’t find a place for it, due to late boarding, bin hogs, etc.? Are they going to be charged? If so, that seems unfair.
    3) Payment at the gate seems like it could get complicated (will they have credit card readers?), and more than that, what about elites and/or credit card holders that are entitled to free checked bags? Elites are easy enough to identify since it’ll be noted on the boarding pass, but what about UA cardholders, especially if they haven’t brought the credit card with them? Or if you get a nasty gate agent that just decides to charge you anyway? UA is notoriously bad about refunding ancillary charges in a timely manner, and I could see this becoming a customer service nightmare.
    4) This policy does nothing about bin hogs who stuff the overheads full of junk that should be going underneath the seat – jackets, coats, purses, laptops, backpacks, etc., which if anything is an even bigger problem than oversized bags. And again, this comes down to inconsistency in FAs handling the issue. I was on a Southwest flight once where a FA politely but firmly ordered a couple of guys sitting in the row in front of me to get their jackets out of the overhead so that another customer could put their (properly sized) carry-on in the bin and not have to gate check it. (Of course, the jerks complained the entire way about having to hold their jackets.) For every FA that does this, though, there’s probably at least 5 that don’t.

    My $.02, anyway.

  13. mharris127 says:

    I get that there is only so much room for “carry-ons” on board the plane. However the only reasonable solution in my opinion is for a mandate that requires one free checked bag per person from the airlines on all commercial passenger flights with a stop in the US or Canada. If people don’t have the financial issue when checking bags they will not attempt to cram an oversized bag into the carry-on rack (for the most part). IMO our government really messed up allowing the airlines to charge for checking even the first bag a flyer has. Frankly meals, drinks, pillows, blankets, first checked bag, seat belt extenders, etc. should be a part of the ticketed price. I do agree that someone checking more than one bag should be subject to an appropriate fee as there are weight and space considerations to flying but charging for the first checked bag is ludicrous IMO.

    • Mike says:

      Ever flown Southwest? They allow TWO checked bags and as someone who seems to regularly get “C” boarding passes (boarding at the end of the herd) I have had to check my legal size bag on multiple occasions. I don’t see it alleviating the problem very much.

      On the other hand, on other airlines there are occasions when I’d happily check my rollaboard but don’t want to pay the fee on the first bag. I bring it to the gate and approach the agents at the podium and offer to check my bag if they feel overhead space is going to be tight. The vast majority of the time they check it right there at no charge and usually offer to let me preboard since i wont be using overhead space.

    • MeanMeosh says:

      It’s not really as easy as saying “make the first checked bag free, and people will stop bringing oversized/overstuffed carryons”. Problems with excessive carryon baggage long predate the introduction of baggage fees. For one, some people, especially business travelers, don’t like checking bags because they can’t risk losing presentation materials, meeting clothes, etc., but they need a rollaboard to put all those things in. For another, some people just don’t want to wait for their bags at the baggage claim on the other end. I’ve had to wait upwards of 45 minutes at both DEN and FLL to reclaim a bag, and sometimes half an hour at DFW. If I’m coming in at 10 P.M. after a long day of business meetings or flying home from vacation, the idea of waiting an extra 30-45 minutes to get home isn’t particularly appealing.

      And to echo Mike’s comment, I fly Southwest fairly often, and despite their free baggage policy, you’re very often SOL when it comes to bin space if you have a boarding pass beyond about B-30. I suspect that while you might incentivize a few people to check rather than carry, the benefits advertised will prove to be overblown.

  14. I have no problem with UA setting the rules and then enforcing those rules.

    However, I do have an issue with UA when they don’t hold themselves to the same standard. UA oftens allows deadheading cabin and cockpit crews to board prior to any pax. These crew members often have multiple bags and bags that will never fit the sizer. Why aren’t they forced to gate check their bags?

    I understand they are tired from a work schedule, or are going to work as soon as the plane lands, but how is that any different than many of the paying pax? Furthermore, FAs tend to have their carry on bag, a purse, a soft sided lunch box, a coat, and sometimes small computer bags.

    Look at your own behavior first UA, then expect nothing more from your pax.

    • Emjay says:

      Oh AMEN to this! Last UA flight, four traveling flight attendants boarded with the kids ‘n families groups, took up FIVE bins (!) causing those sitting near them to plunk their bags in bin spaces further up the aisle. Somewhere, the people who needed bin space had to fly with their feet on their bags. C’mon UA. Those of us in cattle class deserve a bit of consideration too.

  15. A says:

    Cheers to UA for this. For the most part I think the savvy business travelers are NOT the problem. Their bags usually are appropriately sized and they know how to fit them into the bin. Unfortunately it’s the leisure traveler that’s trying to save some $$$ that I notice as the problem. I get it, that baggage fee cuts into the vacation fund, but rules are rules on size – follow them.

    Also I think a lot of people still worry about lost luggage, theft, etc.. When that bag goes into the depth of the airport it can be unnerving to trust your valued belongings to the system. If everything was checked at the gate it might ease those concerns. I actually like the gate-check system for regional jets. I know it can’t be scaled up but I’d be interested to know how many people just don’t trust checking a bag due to bad publicity.

  16. Mark H says:

    As a Flight Attendant, YES!!! Carry-on’s are completely out of control, and both the airlines and the passengers must take responsibility. There are also many passengers who expect Flight Attendants to lift their overstuffed, overweight bags into the overhead bins, causing many flight attendant injuries. This has got to stop. United is taking the right approach, and the rest of the airlines, need to, no, they MUST follow suit. I can’t tell you how many delays my flights have taken because the final boarding group of passengers is standing in the aisle at departure time with nowhere to stow their bags, making the flight attendants check their bags at the last minute. I would also like to see carry on scales at the jet bridge doors, but that’s a dream for another day.

  17. I have a “mobile office” rolling bag that accommodates my 17-inch laptop and fits under the seat of every aircraft I’ve been on. Yet it exceeds United’s 14-inch limitation. I think they are being a bit too arbitrary about this.

  18. Noah says:

    More often than not, I dont see over-size as the problem but too many pieces and stuffing them all in the overhead. It’s probably a good thing to take a stand, and better to charge since I know people who purposely bring large bags then volunteer to gate check just to save the fee. This will piss off many customers, and I’ll be curious what happens to elites who bring bags just up to over slights over the sizer.

    Interesting experiment!

  19. Nick says:

    I’m a United flyer (economy) and I look at the size of the bags that get dragged on board, and its a bloody joke sometimes, but as usual its the few that will screw it up for the majority. I’m for a stricter policy but until United step it up and do something real about it, then life as we know it will just be the same.
    Nick

  20. Evelyn Penn says:

    I am so for United enforcing what has been an unenforced guideline for years. I am tired of seeing people, and waiting behind those people, who try to stuff an oversized bag into the overhead bins. And then have to wait while they struggle to get it out of that space to depart the plane. As for those who skirted the rule and then were able to gate-check their bag without paying for it; where is the justice in that?

    Go United. I only hope the other airlines will follow suit.

  21. Chris says:

    I have two views on this — first is the wheels in issue. I’m glad they’re (trying to) take a stand here. One bag that is 1″ too long takes up the same room that two bags should. So yes, put that thing in the hold, and get yourself a proper sized carryon next time.

    Second is the overpackers who want help getting their stuff in the overheads. No. You can’t press it? Check it. I fly WN most of the time, so it’s free people! Exceptions may be granted to shorter people if they ask nicely :)

  22. Susan Thomas says:

    Good for United. I am sick to death of people hauling all their crap on the plane for free when I, like an idiot, actually check my bag and pay for it. I don’t fly United enough to have premium status. Makes me feel like a fool for following the rules.

  23. JayB says:

    Real enforcement would be this:

    “Dear Customer:

    Please be aware of the type aircraft we are using on this flight. Not all of our aircraft have overhead and underseat storage space of the same size. See our sizing displays here for you to check your situation.

    Regardless, please understand that the overheads on this flight and all other flights we operate are there for you to use to put things you will be using, or may need to use during this flight. And, understand that the space under the seat in front of your seat is there for you to put your feet and anything you will be using, or may need to use during this flight.

    All other baggage must be checked for storage in the compartments where we store checked baggage. There is no extra charge for checking bags. This service is included in the price of your ticket. Have a pleasant trip!”

    With this, we could probably get rid of half, or more, of the TSA people and TSA equipment we have today and more efficiently carry out the boarding process everywhere.

  24. FREQUENTFLIER57 says:

    I APPLAUD THE CRACK DOWN. I CANNOT TELL YOU HOW OFTEN MY LEGAL CARRYONE DOES NOT FIT DUE TO THE WOMAN ON THE AISLE HAVING A ROLL ON BAORD, SHOPPING BAG, HAND BAG AND A LAP TOP BAG. COUNTS TO FOUR TO ME….

  25. SF-based aka United flyer says:

    Answer: yes.

    It would reduce my travel stress on US domestic flights a lot.

  26. Jeff says:

    I have no problem with free or paid checked bags, but the idea that going back to free checked bags will solve all of these problems is ridiculous. The carry-on problems existed long before checked baggage charges. People didn’t want to wait for (or risk the loss of) their bags regardless of fees. I think Delta has done a great job modernizing its checked baggage system. When I flew into LAX this week (and the last couple of times), the monitor on the carousel displayed the estimated time of arrival for the bags (after all, 10 minutes after the first passengers arrive at the carousel is very reasonable). While it was off by two minutes (there was a car in front of the priority containers that had to be offloaded first), it takes the mystery out of the wait. The only problem was that the time was so small that no one noticed it; I found myself showing it to other passengers. Once they roll this out to other stations, they can start to publicize and guarantee baggage arrival times (like I believe Alaska does).

    The Delta mobile app also allows for bag tracking. It is comforting to see that my bag is sitting on my plane while I’m sitting in the Skyclub or gate area. I haven’t used it on a connection yet, but I’m sure there are a few more intermediate scans (maybe at the unload from the first segment?). Besides information, the frequent scans lead to more accountability for bag movements. I don’t know how much of this information Delta uses, but I would be interested to know if the ramp crew (or supervision) receives a notification if they close out a flight and a bag that was checked (within legal time limits) has not been loaded (of course, a scan could always have been missed).

    tl;dr: Over-sized carry-ons pre-date check bag fees. Technology can be used to improve the checked bag experience. If airlines publicize improvements, people may check more bags.

  27. DW says:

    I find it very sad that UA (a legacy Airline) is starting to act like Spirit in charging for a bag that is “measured” and doesn’t meet the “United requirements” but is an acceptable carry-on size on other carriers. I have stopped flying UA because of poor customer service, too many regional jets flying routes that should be flown by a B737 (at the very least), delays and cancellations, delayed bags when checked, and now the new carry-on policy. As a business traveler, I try not to check bags as I cannot afford to have the bag delayed with my “meeting clothes” inside and then play the “waiting game” for them to find it, reroute it and deliver it my hotel. That said, I’ve moved on to flying other carriers (DL and Southwest) as they service all destinations I require for business and pleasure and don’t require their Customers to jump through hoops in order to fly with them. Sorry United…I cannot endorse your policy.

  28. liv says:

    Definitely a good idea. So sick of getting on a plane where you have to fight for overhead space. Personally assigned overhead space would be ideal.

  29. Patrick Dee says:

    Being a United Premier Platinum, I am always in the Group 1 boarding process and never have a problem in placing my one carry-on item. I am also a people-watcher and, accordingly, enjoy the “shows” the folks in the other groups put on as they carry on way too much gear for the overhead/under the seat in front of you areas. I find it quite humorous what these folks are carrying on the plane. I hope the new policy is effective but doesn’t effectively remove what I always find to be entertaining.

  30. DW says:

    I find it very sad that UA (a legacy Airline) is leaning towards the policies of Spirit. Measuring your carry-on bag at the gate? Fine…but then charging for the bag is wrong just because it’s a 1/2 inch too tall or long or wide? Many bag manufacturers make their bags to meet the Airline standards to appeal to frequent flyers but when the bag is packed, it might “expand” unless it’s a hard-sided bag. As a business traveler, I cannot afford to check a bag with my business/meeting clothes inside, have the bag “go missing”, and play the game of waiting for the bag to be found, re-routed and delivered to my hotel. Their new policy solidified my decision to move my business to other carriers (DL and Southwest) who service all of the cities I require for both business and pleasure. The other factors for my decision was poor customer service, flight delays and cancellations, regional jets flying routes that should be supported by a B737 (at the very least) and in many cases, high prices. That said, I cannot support their new bag policy for gate-checking bags if they are going to charge for the bag.

  31. JohnG says:

    How do those United permissible carryon measurements stack up against the actual size of the obverhead bins? That’s the only real complaint I could see. For example, if American did this, I could see a lot of folks unhappy that a rollaboard, like mine, that fits without any issue in the overhead bin of all mainline jets, is a tight squeeze / occasional no go in the bag sizer.

  32. skg172 says:

    I have flown on UA every week since the announcement and have not seen one security agent or UA gate agent turn a traveler with a huge bag away. I’m still amazed that travelers try to board (regardless of their boarding group) with large carry on bags.This has in my obervation not improved the boarding process, as with full flights and overhead compartments, those in groups 3 (toward the end of the line) through 5 are likely to not find space for even a backpack. Travelers also ignore gate agent requests to check bags for free as there is a real chance they will not fit once they board. And not to mention those that just stand in the aisle waiting for help because they can not lift their bags over their head.

    Once this is enforced, it should help the boarding process.

  33. GateA says:

    I personally, working a flight, do not charge any passengers whose CARRY ON bag is within sizing limits. I DO however, charge persons whose bag is CLEARLY larger than the sizing box, which is a VERY fair size. Also, if a passenger has more than the allotted carryon plus personal item, I do make them condense and comply, as it is only fair to everyone else who IS following the simple rules. People, really, you are just going on a trip, do you REALLY need every item in your wardrobe??

  34. John G2 says:

    I’m all for keeping steamer trunks out of the overhead space.

    Under-seat space is way too small for anything resembling a suitcase.

    Airlines could enforce at the gate, tag for oversize, and collect at the destination, where this would not interfere with flight departures. This closely resembles the gate processes they already run. Just need a second class of tags and a revised baggage unload procedure.

  35. Robert H Miller says:

    I have seen the carry on rule enforced once in 15 years even tho the sample model bin was in plain sight. Surly airline executives talk to each other. They should all agree to enforce the rule without exception. I am age 68 and short and white haired, yet some women ask ME to lift their 90 lb carry on bag into the bin. There will always be people wanting to get around the rule ( think 10 items or less at the supermarket) and people who say “I didn’t know.” It is NOT good business to accommodate them. Also, it is not the job of the flight attendants to act as a porter. They are safety professionals. I don’t know how they do it every day without going insane.

  36. I support any measure that would lessen the likelihood that passengers will bring oversized bags on board the aircraft, including better size policing at the gate. To really put a dent into passengers bringing an oversized bag, and/or carrying on too many items, onboard, United and other airlines should also not charge a fee for checking one bag. This would go far toward simplifying the boarding process and creating passenger goodwill.

  37. frequentflier57 says:

    Ok so they are going to enfore rules?? how novel. I am tired of watching women come on with a roll on board, lap top case, hand bag and shopping bag and try to stuff it all directly over thier seat. I have even been asked ” do you mind if i move this over here” so they can get their stuff over head. Even now the back packs with wheels the kids carry dont fill properly in the over heads. Time to enfore the rules.

  38. It’s about time the carry-on baggage issue was addressed and passengers take some responsibility for what they cram into a suitcase, how many bags they have,etc. Boarding was a pleasure after 9/11, because no-one was allowed to bring excess (or anything!) , and it went much faster and was hassle free. The airlines haven’t enforced because it takes extra man-power and time, but I believe (and LOVE), that it is the way of the future. But…they MUST BE CONSISTANT – from city to city in an airline and between a
    airlines. The baggage fees in Australia are spelled out , and charged for a lot less. Pay when you make your reservation,(even if you’re not sure what you’re taking) or pay more than double when you get to the airport. Weight is a big issue whether travellers want to think about it or not. Money is the name of the game with the airlines (especially “legacy), and even now American will close the door and you cannot board if you are not at the gate 20 min. before departure time. EVERYONE needs to take responsibility NOW. And for the person who complained about flight crew getting on and using space. I agree some of them have excess baggage. But, if they have to work a flight at the destination, they MUST travel WITH their bags – or their work flight may be delayed or cancelled, thereby p….ing off a LOT of people, many throwing blame where they shouldn’t. And did you know that American (one that I know of, for sure), does not provide any meals for their flight attendants who usually don’t have time between flights to get something, and therefore have to carry maybe 3 days worth of food with them? Lots or reasons for the charges. If everyone didn’t think the reasons didn’t apply to them , or they think they don’t have to adhere because they’re special – or clever. GET USED TO IT AND PLAN ACCORDINGLY.

  39. Mile High Joe says:

    WHAT TOOK THEM SO LONG?

  40. dotti cahill says:

    and still some people get on without any intervention and they have tooo big a bag or 3 not nice

  41. pilotaaron1 says:

    I’m ok with this. Also add a $300 fee for anyone that puts their bag in the first available bin and goes to the back of the plane! Seriously, I hope they enforce it. It need to be 100% enforcement or it will be a disaster. And for those that are asking about those who bring legal size bags but run out of space on board. I can’t speak for United but on US Airways, they’ll gate check for free when they run out of space. I personally there should be a minimum of one check bag for free on all flights. But at the same time, a majority of my flights have been on Southwest lately and the bins are still way too full. I do believe as well that some try to take additional carry on bags and try to sneak them on. Both business and leisure traveler alike.

  42. Shaun says:

    I would so much rather that United start enforcing boarding groups. Every single flight I get on, as I board with group 1, the person in front of me is group 4 or 5. I can see it, the agent can see it, and yet the agent lets them board. I want the computer buzz, instead of ding, and the agent to publicly shame the offender.

    Why bother with boarding groups, which now each have their own line, if the agents don’t bother to enforce them?

  43. JuliaZ says:

    Alaska handles this in a mostly-civilized way. First, they guarantee checked bags will be returned to you within 20 minutes at your destination or bag fees are returned. Usually, the bags are arriving as I get to the baggage claim. As an MVP, I check up to two bags for free, so I’m already doing my part to reduce the overhead crush by checking my suitcase.

    I do get severely annoyed that they reward people for gate-checking bags voluntarily on full flights by checking them for free… that makes those people who pay for checked bags before security (like they’re supposed to) suckers.

    As for overhead space, my laptop backpack and coat take up much less space than most roller suitcases. My purse and my lunch — I’m severely allergic to peanuts and have celiac disease so MUST bring my own food — fit under the seat in front of me without a problem. I am MVP and I’m frequently traveling on a pretty-expensive last minute ticket, and Alaska’s guidelines allow one carry-on bag, a briefcase or laptop bag, a purse, and a reasonable amount of food for the flight. I’m legal. Glare if you want: I don’t care. I get on and off the plane very quickly, I’m polite to the people around me, and I follow all flight-crew instructions to the letter. More people should try doing the same.

  44. Paul Brody says:

    I fully support this. I actually comply with the regulations so it really bothers me that I have to fight my way tot the front of the line (which is also infuriating as I’m global services and it’s still a mess unless you want to stand at the gate for 20 minutes before boarding to secure a place in line) just to get my completely legal and correctly sized bag into the system.

  45. David M says:

    Free checked bags don’t solve the cabin baggage problem. Southwest passengers can attest to this. I was on a full 733 (smaller overhead bins) flight last night on WN, sitting in row 1, and the crew sounded a bit surprised that they only had one cabin bag to check.

    What did alleviate the cabin baggage issue was the total ban on liquids. Right after that “liquid bomb” plot was foiled, the TSA banned virtually all liquids from carry ons. People could still check bags for free, so everyone did since the alternative was to travel without any sort of liquid, to include toothpaste, deodorant, etc. The 3-1-1 rule came out after that and provided some semblance of reason to this, but I think it wasn’t until American started charging for that first checked bag that the cabin started overflowing with carry ons again.

  46. Carl says:

    If UA will be doing this on a consistent basis, they need to give the gate agents not just the discretion, but also the mandate, to apply common sense and to cut slack to the elite members who have to travel weekly. I travel with one rollaboard and one backpack. They can probably squeeze into the sizer. While I’m entitled to free checked bags, I don’t want to check my bags for two reasons. The first is that 20 minutes/trip times 100 trips a year is 2000 minutes or 33 hours. If it’s late at night, I need to go to sleep not wait 20 minutes. The second is for flexibility in the event of irregular operations. I can quickly switch to another flight since I have no checked bags.

    The other thing they need to be careful about is not making the gate agents into hostile cops. Sometimes they have an unpleasant attitude, and UA needs to work harder on being friendly, not hostile.

  47. Adrian Jenkins says:

    Every time I travel to the US, I am stunned at the size of bags that are carried on board. It really does feel like so many passengers feel they have to take the ‘kitchen sink’ with them. I understand the value of rollaboard cases, but there should be restrictions that they do not exceed dimensions or weight. Some of those cases are very large.

    For many of us in the rest of the world, we have long lived with restrictions of no more than 23kgs (50lbs) for your check-in suitcase (1 piece only) and no more than 7kgs (15lbs) for your cabin luggage. And yes, they do stop you if you are significantly over that.

    I also agree with the other correspondent from Australia who said that the way to stop people trying to get overweight/oversize bags on board free, is to have the fees for airport/gate check-in twice or three-times the price of pre-paying for luggage, online. That is standard practice in Australia/New Zealand.

  48. Flying in FC HNL-LHR, we took our Tumi 22″ bags. We like to travel light, no checked bag to lose. Lifetime expensive carryons with a million miles on them, fit straight in on all modern UA planes overheads, designed to meet the 22″/45″ total carryon rule. On the last leg, SFO-KOA, my bag was turned back because the handle doesn’t fit in the sizer. UA changed the rules mid-stream recently. How about reimbursing me for my now worthless 22″ Tumi bag?

    This will just lead us to push the secondary item rule to the max, using a Sportsac duffle to carry the excess. It flexes and fits in the sizer. Same total volume. The notch in the sizer is NOT designed to accommodate handles, as it is centered in the middle of the top, rather than the far side. Simply having a side notch would render all this upset moot. Rigid, tone-deaf policy implementation by new Continental management. Welcome to the new Friendly Skies.

  49. CarterH says:

    All I got to say is this, if the bags fits in the overhead (wheels out vertical and not horizontal); then they should let the person carry it on the plane. Those bag checkers at the gate are WAY OFF and completely ridiculous. I don’t want to check my bag because it takes forever to get it at the baggage claim and I don’t want to pay for the “privilege”.

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