Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

Summary: I'm mad as hell about self-centered business travelers on commuter jets and I'm not going to take it anymore.


Anyone reading my column for any length of time probably knows that I do a good amount of travelling for my day job.

I don't mind actually having to go places for a living. In fact, I like visiting different parts of the country. The act of getting from place to place and having to put up with all kinds of mishegas to achieve it? Not so much.

ZDNet is a technology site and this is a general technology column, and I try to make what I write relevant to the site's overall mission. Air travel is fair game, particularly if it involves enabling technology, such as security.

But sometimes I just think it is necessary to vent about the airlines and air travel in general, because I feel that I occasionally need to act in the interests of the business traveler.

Last year, I wrote of the evil Mileage Run (which, incidentally, was solved this year by my preferred airline, Delta, in allowing a limited number of medallion qualification miles (MQMs) to be purchased).

Today, I want to talk to you about those self-centered... putzes that feel it is necessary to attempt to bring full-sized bags onto a commuter jet, because they think they are actually saving time or money by not checking it in the first place.

For those of you not familiar with commuter jets, they are smaller aircraft, about the size of a corporate jet. Typically, they are Embraer or Bomarbardier aircraft with a maximum seating capacity of about 50-80 people depending on the model and configuration.

Delta, my airline of choice, uses Embraer E-Jets operated by Compass as Delta Connection on certain regional routes. For the past two months I have been using the Delta Shuttle at NYC LaGuardia Airport's Marine Air Terminal to fly weekly to Chicago.

The ERJs are excellent little planes. They are fast and comfortable and relatively quiet. However, the one thing they do not have which larger jets like the Boeing 737 or the Airbus A310/A320 do is ample overhead compartment space.

At best, you're going to get a backpack or briefcase/computer bag in there, your coat, and if you are lucky, an overnighter type duffle for a two day trip.

Not a freakin' week-long sized or more peice of luggage in the 40+ pound range.

Now, I understand why many of you who do this engage in this sort of insanity. You don't travel very often, and when you found out that you had to eat a $25.00 baggage fee to check it, since you have no medallion status, you thought you would save a few bucks by dragging it on the aircraft.

Or perhaps you think that by bringing your luggage on the plane, you're actually saving time. Ha!

The first problem I put squarely on the airline. They've created a system that basically forces routine business travelers to be inconvenienced because they've had to jack up their fees.

They beleive that by requiring customers to check their bags and then charging a fee for it, it would cause mass hysteria.

Instead, they simply make their repeat customers who travel business routes completely enraged.

When you have more than half your passengers trying to drag their overstuffed 40lb+ Delseys and TravelPros because they don't want to eat a $25 bag check, what happens is as follows.

First they go through the TSA lines, which are challenged with increased security to begin with, and it adds additional time to the screening process for everybody which in and of itself is quite considerable. It also costs the TSA around an additional $260 million a year to process these extra bags on the lines. Which you and I then eat in taxes.

Then the numbnutzes drag the bags on the plane, slowing progress as they all inch their way down the aisle. Then they all find out that the overhead or the underside of the seats can't accommodate their bags, despertately trying to shove it in and then getting it jammed up in there.

Alternatively, because the flight is packed, the overheads have run out of space so they have to somehow make their way back down the aisle, then having to gate check the bags.

For free, thus avoiding the check fee.

Now just imagine what kind of logjam that causes. Until everyone gets in their seat and settles down, the attendants can't close the aircraft door. If the aircraft door doesn't close, you can't taxi. If taxiing is delayed, then you end up increasing the length of time the aircraft needs to be in the taxi queue and thus spending more time on the ground.

Seriously, just thinking about this makes my blood pressure rise to explosive levels.

The situation has become so contentious that there is actually a proposed bill in the US Senate being sponsored by Sen. Mary Landrieu of Louisiana that would mandate that air carriers give each traveler a minimum of one checked bag for free.

Here's what I propose. The US Senate bill for the Airline Passenger BASICS Act going into effect anytime in the future notwithstanding, this is what the airlines should do.

Assuming that each traveller has at least one bag, the cost of the airline ticket should reflect an included baggage fee. If you're medallion status, you get the 1st bag fee refunded when you check a bag or if you don't have a bag to check.

Simple, right? You don't give the person the freaking option of checking or not checking. If they know they've eaten the cost upfront, they will check the bag. Capische?

Think of how much time this is going to save at the TSA lines when the volume of bags brought onboard aircraft cabins is reduced dramatically. It means they'll have less stuff to scan. They can devote those energies to scanning the bags during the check-in and bag loading process instead, which are easier and much quicker to process than human beings.

I mean really, if this is a commuter jet, the darned airline and the check-in people know up front that the damned bag isn't going to fit. So why the hell are they letting them do it?

If they check in at a kiosk, or their boarding documents are done electronically, the passenger should be sent a warning in the plain and clear that bags above a certain size will not fit on the plane.

This solves at least two problems. One, aisle logjams and delaying disembarkation. Two, having the passenger end-run the baggage fee by schlepping it on the plane knowing full well it won't fit and then gate checking it. And it will also accelerate the lines at the TSA checkpoints, which everyone who travels wants to go faster.

Do you hate the numbnutzes that don't check their huge bags? Talk Back and Let Me Know.

Topics: Security, IT Employment


Jason Perlow, Sr. Technology Editor at ZDNet, is a technologist with over two decades of experience integrating large heterogeneous multi-vendor computing environments in Fortune 500 companies. Jason is currently a Partner Technology Strategist with Microsoft Corp. His expressed views do not necessarily represent those of his employer.

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  • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

    "Mileage Runs"

    After reading that article, I don't really have any respect for you. You sound like some sort of spoiled kid. Flying to a random destination just to keep some sort of precious status? Really?

    And yeah, there are people who want to avoid a $25 checking fee. Because for some people, $25 is a lot of money. But a spoiled child like you doesn't understand that.
    • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

      @CobraA1 There are TONS of people that have to do mileage runs in order to keep their status. If you're a frequent business traveler medallion status is everything. It allows you to use priority lines and also gets you seat upgrades. These aren't trivial things at all.
      • Have to agree

        Traveling way to much and learning about the "gorilla" type handling of bags, I bought a bag that fits for both commercial and commuter planes.

        Yes, the "noobs" that bring the big ones should be taken out and "baggaged themselves. I do agree it should be handled at he kiosk/gate.

        But... Outside of your blood pressure, it is really saving any time?
        Likely not for the generally overwhelmed attendant trying to handle passes at the same kiosk.

        I recommend some good headphones and lite meditation.

      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @jperlow He's not saying it's trivial - he's saying it's juvenile. More specifically, he's saying that complaining about people who get in your way because you travel a lot is "spoiled" behaviour because you're assuming others should act in a given way to make YOUR life easier because you're a priviledged customer.

        Your reply actually reinforces his opinion as it seems you're just repeating what you said (which is what he's disagreeing with) in order to rationalise your view.
      • Non-Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @jperlow <br>i disagree. The normal business traveller doesnt slow down TSA. They move fast into planes and dont take up much space. It is the infrequent traveller, they dont know how to pack and cause delays at TSA. Their bag that they never use is bigger than the normal carry-on and takes up more than normal space, they have 3 bags and a big coat, which takes up more space.<br><br>And gate checking, for many of the airports, sends your luggage to baggage claim, causing up to 30 minute delays leaving the airport. Billable time when you are travelling to a clients site.<br><br>maybe you should fly Southwest. They dont charge baggage fee's, so everyone you fly with can check their baggage.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        Sounds like that 1% complaining when the 99% inconvenience them
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @jperlow Poor baby...keep whining and maybe you'll get your way. Or maybe you should just hold your breath until you turn blue. Shouldn't be hard for a windbag.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @jperlow <br><br>The airlines have done this to themselves. Why should I check a bag, when if the plane is full, it'll get thrown below later without charge? The airlines should charge for unchecked baggage and not charge for checked to "correct" this problem. People are just doing what the airlines are teaching them to do... Bad behaviour is rewarded, so people do it. It isn't aimed at you personally.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        anyone doing a mileage run at the expense of their company should be fired.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @jperlow, you've hit the nail on the head with your article. Mileage runs are real and you can tell the folks that don't travel for a living. They just don't "get it".

        Great piece.
    • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

      @CobraA1 Couldn't agree more with this article. I don't consider expecting other people to follow basic rules, to be the action of a "spoiled child". Someone thinking it's OK to break the rules and inconvenience others because "$25 is a lot of money" IS the action of a spoiled child however.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @MBRIANT@... <br>A charge should go on the unchecked bags in order to discourage this, or just not charge at all for _a_ bag... People are doing what the airlines tell them to do, hence it has gotten to this... Whatta pain. I don't fly a lot anymore due to crap like this. I used to love flying, but that was prior to 1991 when it was fun to fly, and then prior to 2001 when it was mildly amusing to fly. Now it is a huge chore, and half the time it is faster to drive with the prolonged checkin times, and more reliable to drive with all the cancelled flights that occur to some storm halfway across the country that stops flight everywhere due to the borked/obsolete hub and spoke system... A colleague of mine got stuck in Oklahoma City for 6 hours due to a freakin connection that was mandated by corporate policy... It wasn't even on the way. His checked bag temporarily got lost in the process. Had it been a direct flight, that wouldn't have been an issue... (we all broke corp policy after that with mgr approval...)
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @MBRIANT@... Exactly, it's the I'm better than you and will no worry about inconveniencing anybody if it saves me some time or money. I don't travel that much and do check my bags but what gets my blood boiling are the people toward the back for the plane that fill up the overhead compartments toward the front of the plane. By the time the people toward the front get to board all the overhead space it taken near their seats and they have to go toward the back to find a spot. That slows everyone down at both ends of the flight. If the airlines allowed one free checked bag per passenger that would solve a lot of hassles.
    • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please


      He is talking about inconsiderate behavior, like when the same people are inching down the aisle BECAUSE they are on a phone call instead of getting settled.

      I'm disabled, and the more time I spend standing in the aisle, the more my back pain shoots up in addition to what it does with acceleration forces during takeoff.

      People should just know what they're doing, and freaking DO IT. These are NOT first time flyers, which we can all understand and help in a friendly way. I do that for people when they seem lost, we all can. But people who are oblivious to the inconvenience they selfishly cause those around them should NIT be rewarded with a free gate check.

      That said, I've been guilty of needing a gate check, but only because there was a change in aircraft or it was not listed. More clear instructions on the tickets about bin availability and limits would go a long way to help here.
    • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

      @CobraA1 You are completely in the wrong CobraA1. These are BUSINESS travelers, their company pays expenses, including baggage fees. And, if you travel for business on a regular basis, $25 is NOT going to break the bank. How about those travelers who have to pony up to check bags on commercial airlines? If you can afford to fly, you can afford the attendant fees - or you shouldn't be flying in the first place! You sound like the type who expects everything for free - who's the spoiled brat here?
    • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

      Agreed. "Spoiled kid" doesn't even begin to cover it. I find it disgusting to hear one person call everyone else "self-centered" and in the same breath demand that everyone else cater to that one person's travel needs. Perhaps somebody needs to explain what the phrase "self-centered" means.

      After having expensive items stolen regularly from my checked luggage, and the luggage itself disappearing a couple of times, I vowed to never check luggage again. The $25 fee isn't the problem for me. It's the thieves working for the airlines. How many other times would you hand your cameras, laptops, video cameras, portable projectors, and other expensive items to a complete stranger and walk away hoping they are honest enough to not steal them? Checking luggage is a crap shoot at best.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @BillDem I am not a frequent flyer and I don't receive any special privileges or benefits when I fly, but I do fly 3 or 4 times a year, internationally. If you place expensive stuff in your checked baggage, you should expect it to be stolen. The purpose of the carry-on is to allow you to take your expensive stuff and have it in close proximity to where you are sitting, but in recent times, many customers are being selfish and self-centered. They take on bags that are humongous and use up all the over-head storage. I take on one carry-on, with emergency clothes, my camera, electronics, computer, etc. and I am damn angry when I get on the plane and there is no overhead space for my one bag, or I have to place it 8 or 9 rows fore or aft to where I am sitting. The airlines need to fully enforce their carry-on bag policy and don't let anyone onto the plane if their bag does not fit in the carry-on bag sizers located at the gate before boarding. More-so, if the bag needs to be checked at the gate, then the customer should be charged the same fee for checked baggage as if it was done at the front check-in counter.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        We're actually agreeing. I say the same thing. If you put expensive or even mildly interesting items in checked luggage, expect it to be stolen.

        I haven't checked any expensive items in decades. When I first started flying, I checked bags so that I wouldn't have to deal with finding storage space on the plane or toting the luggage through the airport. That's when I had all the trouble with theft and lost baggage. Back then, those expensive items were a LOT more bulky than they are now, so it was really difficult to pack a laptop, camera, lenses, video camera, etc. into a carry-on and have space for clothing, too. I was explaining why I made the decision to never check bags.

        I was also pointing out that any time you are stating that everyone else should do things differently to accommodate your own needs, you are being even more selfish than those people. Example: I choose to only do carry-on. That is self-centered, because I am doing it to accommodate my own needs, regardless of what anyone else needs. The difference is, I'm not trying to get everyone else to stop carrying luggage on so that I have even more space for mine. That is doubly self-centered.

        As far as the airlines enforcing their carry-on policy, they already do. The bags most people buy are approved by airlines in advance. If it fits in the airline-approved luggage, it's fine. The staff are trained to spot luggage that isn't one of the approved shape/sizes and I've seen them tell people they have to check a strange-shaped or oversize bag during the boarding process quite often. Check the tags when you are buying luggage and you will see airline-approved carry-on listed somewhere.

        Here's a suggestion for you. If you keep finding that you have no space for your luggage, get to the airport earlier. I never have trouble finding space for my luggage. The people who hop on the plane at the last minute are the ones who are always searching for space. If you are among the first 20 people who board, you win the storage space lottery. If you're one of those people holding up departure by showing up late and then searching for luggage space, it's hard to have any sympathy for you.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        "I never have trouble finding space for my luggage. The people who hop on the plane at the last minute are the ones who are always searching for space. If you are among the first 20 people who board, you win the storage space lottery. "

        Good for you, if you like sitting on a plane for 30+ mins twiddling your thumbs with rubbish aircon, but most of us don't. If space were allocated properly on the planes for hand luggage, then it wouldn't be an issue. There is no lottery. If I get on that plane with my hand luggage which I am entitled to do, the same as everyone else, then I expect to find a space for it. If I don't, then I am going to complain - end of.
      • RE: Business Travelers: Check your damn bags please

        @BillDem You are your own problem. Only a fool would check electronics or valuables! Take them carry on in an appropriate bag, or don't travel with them. You can also ship ahead stuff not needed the next day via FedEx or USP overnight cheaper than paying airline baggage fees and lugging the crap around from car to airport to bus or rental counters, etc. PLAN AHEAD.