Baggage in the airline overhead bins

A Marketplace headline reads that checked bag fees lead to cabin chaos.

Granted, airlines like Delta allow free checking for up to two bags that meet their size/weight requirements for International trips. If you’re flying within the U.S. or to/from our neighbors like Canada, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, you’re paying per piece of checked luggage. The theory is that passengers don’t like to pay, so we pack it with us, pile it on board, and jam it in overhead bins.

All that on-board baggage has the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (part of the Communications Workers of America union) calling for Congress to end the carry-on crunch. Even in the related site url: According to site, a membership survey conducted by the AFA-CWA found “80 percent of flight attendants sustained injuries over the past year due to dealing with carry-ons in overhead bins.”

No word on an independent data set, but it certainly presents as an interesting (unscientific) poll and News Cut discussion.

Should carry-on bags on planes be subject to further regulations?online surveys

* Track the Securing Cabin Baggage Act via The Library of Congress

* The FAA posted carry-on baggage tips online.

h/t Nick Leitheiser

  • david z

    The airlines should be the one responsible for making sure the bags fit on the planes. Don’t allow people down the jetway with extra bags. Don’t allow them down the jetway with oversize bags.


    TSA is responsible for making sure unauthorized people don’t get into the secure terminal area. (How much good that does is a separate argument).

    TSA does not know that I’m on a 767 today with good baggage room, or on a E175 that’s fully booked, or a DC-9. Those plane will hold different bags, and how many of them will depend on the passenger count.

    TSA doesn’t know that. The gate agents managing the boarding process do. It’s THEIR problem. They’ve got the rules already — they just need to actually enforce them. And that means for everyone.

  • I agree with david z. It is very frustrating when you watch people get on board with 5 bags. Not only are they taking up a lot of space but they’re slowing down the boarding process as they try to find space. Bring your ONE suitcase and ONE personal item…and yes, that means fitting your purse into your laptop bag or camera bag for us ladies…and that’s it.

  • John O.

    I’m not sure Congress could agree on a joint resolution that says the sun will rise in the east tomorrow and set in the west. Asking them to micromanage carry-on baggage requirements that are clearly in place already amongst carriers is ludicrous.

    I’m with Nikki and David on this one. Enforce what you have already and make it apply to EVERYONE. And I would have no problems with TSA or law enforcement boarding the plane to deal with the hostile customer either.

    The belligerent person who wants to tangle with a flight attendant or gate agent is probably going to think twice when it is a person with a badge.

  • Lori

    I traveled to Europe in January for a Fulbright Fellowship and had two bags. When I purchased the ticket, the rules were that one could have two bags for an international flight. When I checked in, however, I was charged for one. i don’t like the fact that airlines change rules between the time one purchases a ticket and when one uses the ticket. What one pays for should be honored.

  • Bonnie

    I also agree, with David and Nikki. However…it isn’t just the “having to pay” factor that contributes to people wanting to carry on…it’s having your luggage with you and not flying off to the wrong airport without you or your flight is cancelled and you spend the night with no luggage that scares frequent flyers. But that is nothing new. On my last flight the amount of luggage was ridiculous. I also think people are starting to scam, bringing it to the gate, it gets checked for free at the gate because there is no room in the plane. At $ 25 bucks a bag, you’re talking real money for a family travelling.

  • david z

    I’ve flown many hundreds of times in the last 15 years. I’ve had exactly 1 instance of my bags not making it to the right airport on the right flight. I’m not saying that it doesn’t happen, but in the grand scheme of things it’s not an everyday occurrence for everyone.

    I also don’t pack valuable guitars or electronic equipment in my checked bags either. Clothes and a couple of other things that would be easily enough replace at the other end if necessary.

    Everything I *have* to have goes on the plane with me. Sometimes that means a carry on suitcase. But just one, and fairly small. Not the three huge rollaboards that I see some people carry on. And having seen them in the terminal, I know they’re just one person, not a family’s worth of bags.

    It’s the inconsistencies that bug most people.

  • Amanda

    Next to the gate attendant – and sometimes you have to try hard to find it – is the metal sign/crate that indicates if your bag doesn’t fit in the space it’s not carry on. Make people use it. This will cause a slowdown in the line because the woman bringing enough carry on to go to the Alps, not LA, will make passengers crazy mad. Their anger will be directed at the money saving space stealing passengers hopefully stimulating a self correcting large bags left behind system.

    Only two bags and nothing bigger than that box isn’t a new rule. Just time for some crackdown.

  • Ben Chorn

    Let the free market decide…

    The government doesnt need to regulate the number of bags a person can carry- c’mon.

    What needs to happen is airlines should be fighting over getting the best customer value be it no charge for checked bags or more space for carry-ons.

    The government is doing enough regulating where it shouldn’t be. Let the people decide- (if it bothers you so much, write to the airlines, pick a different airline, or create your own)

  • Brian Douglas Hayes


    How is the “free market” a solution? Obviously the majority of the airlines in this so-called “free market” seem to think that they can get away with charging baggage fees.

    Name all the airlines that offer an MSP-SEA route. Then name all the airlines that offer MSP-SEA with free checked baggage. That leaves us with Southwest, off the top of my head. Not exactly a very competitive “free market”, is it.

    This is where government regulation comes in to play. Yeah, “regulation” sure sounds like a scary thing, but if the corporations aren’t going to listen to the people, shouldn’t the body that represents the people do something about it?