Luggage Lunacy

March 23, 2017


There is something about taking a flight that causes some normally intelligent and rational people to lose all senses when it comes to luggage.


What exactly does the average person need on a flight lasting perhaps 8 hours, maybe 10. (I am not talking here about the bucket airlines who charge ridiculous sums for hold luggage, so there is no choice but to cram as much as possible into hand luggage). On an average transatlantic flight, I need my iPad, earphones, glasses and a pen. I also carry medication for my nut allergy, and travel documents. I have my camera and mobile phone too. That is it.


Too many people want to take on suitcases. What is in them that you need during the flight? I watch people wheeling in cases that are too wide for the aisles. Wheels? Depending on which part of the world you are from, or how old you are, luggage you take with you into the cabin is called hand baggage or carry-on. Whichever you call it, it is implicit that it can't be dragged behind on wheels. It is not called wheel luggage, or drag on.


These people then get in strop because there is not enough room in the overhead locker. So they move my small shoulder bag, and it ends up ten rows away, just so their giant case can be above them. Even getting the bag into the overhead locker is a major operation as it is too heavy to be easily lifted, so there is much straining and grunting as it finally gets put away. Shortly after take off, Mr Suitcase then gets up, takes down the case, much easier this time as the weight of it takes him by surprise and it crashes to the floor, nearly dislocating a nearby passenger's shoulder as it falls. Then Mr Suitcase takes out an iPad or book plus glasses, makes a big fuss about trying to heave it back into the locker, then doesn't go near the thing again until the book or iPad goes back in just before we begin our descent 8 hours later.


Then of course when we land, and before the seatbelt sign is off, Mr Suitcase is out of his seat, taking the bag down, standing in the aisle ready to go, despite it taking at least 10-15 minutes from that point to get the steps or skyway to the plane, then the people in the posh seats get off, before anyone near can move. Then he drags it off again, banging the seats and other passengers' legs as he goes.


Then just when I am thinking I have seen the last of the idiot, there he is at baggage collection. Waiting for an even bigger suitcase, which has ample room in which he could have fitted everything from his drag on case.


Baggage reclaim is a fraught experience. There is always the worry that whilst I have just flown to New York, my bag decided to go to Bangkok. It is made worse by the inability of idiots like Mr Suitcase to wait. He will not stand back behind the yellow line waiting to see his bag before approaching the belt to remove it. Oh, no. He stands with shins pressed hard against the edge of the carousel, leaning over to see as far as possible down the belt. Blocking everyone else's view. So more people do the same. Before long it is nothing but a scrum. Then one of the few who had behaved sensibly and waited back (me and probably about three others from the entire flight) sees his bag. However it is impossible to get through the the three deep melee without asking others to move. That simply produces tutting and huffing and puffing from the cantankerous masses who haven't slept on the red-eye, and by the time I get there, I have either missed the bag, or just grab it, only to find the way behind me has closed in and I have to go through the same rigmarole to get back away from the carousel.


Fellow travelers, please. A little consideration and common sense. If you don't need it in flight, then unless it is too fragile to go in the hold, check it in.


Baggage in the cabin is hand luggage or carry on, not wheelie luggage or drag on. Airlines, you could help by strictly enforcing your cabin luggage policy and preventing oversize and overweight bags going on.


And step away from the carousel. That way we all might just make it out through the airport exit doors without feeling like we need a holiday to recover.





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I am a lawyer, and I believe in what I do, but sometimes wish I could have made a living from travel, food or wine, or all three. But as I can't, I'll settle for writing about it.


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© Andrew Pritchard 2019