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Travelers' Aid

Carry-On Baggage
December 18, 1999

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Did you hear about the two vultures who were turned away at the airline gate entrance because they had too much carrion? More and more airlines are cracking down on the size of carry-on luggage. The latest is American Airlines.

Now this infuriates some people. Why should we be restricted? After all, most of us are pretty reasonable about what we want to take aboard. I called Patricia Friend, president of the American Flight Attendants Association for the answer. She says carry-on luggage can create major problems for flight attendants. Plus, there's the simple reality of the situation.

United was the first major airline to put sizing mechanisms in major cities. United Spokesman Joe Hopkins says the sizers were voluntary on the company's part and that they rely on their own internal regulations to police carry-on bags.

So the carefree days of unlimited carry-on are pretty much over, except on Continental, which says it intends to accommodate any size and amount of carry-on baggage when possible. Continental claims that sizers are not the solution and that they actually cause "delays and inconveniences -- exactly the opposite of good customer service." The American Flight Attendants Association obviously disagrees and is hard at work lobbying Continental to change its position.


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