Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Flying--Overhead Bin Wars

I risked life and limb again last week by flying to and from Denver in the not so friendly skies. Not that it was bad, or that I had any irrational fear about the airline upon which I was flying. No, my concern was for the other passengers doing something stupid. 

Too Big Bag in the Overhead Bin
I believe that the most dangerous part of any flight is the boarding and deplaning process when bags are being slung into and out of the overhead bins. I fear that the too heavy bags are are going to go out of control and give someone a concussion. And, it seems, that the most frail people have the heaviest bags. There ought to be a big sign before boarding--if you can't lift your bag above your head--check it!

That written, I had a new boarding experience. Almost everyone knows that the overhead bins are the most sought after space on an airplane--especially in the winter with bulky clothes and coats. On my return flight, I found an nice empty row, yes, I was flying Southwest so I was empowered to choose my seat upon boarding, with corresponding space above for my relatively small bag. I moved a backpack which was taking up an inordinately large amount of space and installed my bag in the bin. Almost immediately I was confronted by a woman who informed me that she was saving that space for her husband's bag which had to go in sideways in order to fit. 

I had a choice to make which would set the tone of the trip for the next four hours. I could tell her how I felt about the oversize bag and that it should be checked because it was too big and that it was poor form to save space. Or, I could go find another seat. Not wanting to upset someone who I was going to have to share fairly close proximity with for the trip, I chose the other seat since I was an "A" group boarder and still had options remaining. 

How did I really feel? I wish the airline would enforce the bag size standard and not let people get away with using more overhead bin space than they are allotted. I wanted to tell her that the bag should have been checked--it is after all Southwest, they check two bags per traveler for free!

But I didn't. I found another seat, stowed my properly sized bag in the still empty overhead bin and slept for most of the flight home never having to confront the woman or her husband about what my "inside" voice was itching to say.

I remember my Air Force days when passengers were considered self loading cargo. I wish we could have left that cargo on the ramp.

-- Bob Doan, Elkridge, MD

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