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Air Canada’s Lack of Overhead Space Traps Travelers & Employees in Carry-on Quandary

Air Canada’s handling of excess carry-on bags is being blamed for delayed flights, lost valuables and creating chaos for both passengers and staff.

Air Canada’s handling of excess carry-on baggage is creating chaos for both customers and employees, resulting in delays and lost valuables according to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC).

The story came to light after an Edmonton man was forced to check his carry-on bag at the last minute due to lack of bin space on an oversold Air Canada flight. Vishai Shah was en route to his own wedding in India with $2,000 worth of valuables in his carry-on bag. Shah claims that his bag never arrived in India and Air Canada had no record of its existence in their system.

Excess cabin baggage is a growing problem at the airline according to unions representing Air Canada employees. Michel Cournoyer, head of the union representing the airline’s flight attendants, indicated that a lot of delays result from too many carry-ons and too few staff to process the bags. Cournoyer added that Air Canada’s newer planes have more seats but the same amount of overhead space, and often, everyone is onboard before the crew realizes they have too many bags.

A representative from the union representing Air Canada’s customer service agents said that when there are too many bags onboard, flight attendants will place the bags on the jet bridge, where agents, sometimes as few as one agent per flight, are expected to tag and check the bags before sending them to the cargo hold. The unnamed rep claims that agents are under constant pressure from management to achieve on-time departures, which results in mistakes being made.

Gate checking carry-on bags due to lack of space in the cabin places passengers in a quandary, especially if they are transporting valuables. Air Canada’s General Condition of Carriage advises passengers not to pack valuables in checked baggage, and according to the company’s baggage policy, Air Canada reserves the right to refuse checked baggage that contains valuables.

[Photo: CBC]

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5 Comments
M
Mauricio23 March 14, 2015

On Air Canada's newer planes (high density 777 and 787), the seat design means that there is not enough underseat storage even for personal-item-sized carry on luggage. AC's interior layout is a flying piece of manure.

G
garydpdx March 14, 2015

Not to sound high and mighty, but a roller always carries the risk of being gate-checked especially if you have a leg on an RJ. My computer case includes valuables to go under the seat. (A knapsack works, too.) Once in the air, I pull it out and place it behind my legs to get more leg stretching space. Less of an issue in an Economy Plus seat but still nice for international, if the middle seat is occupied (about one third of the time, I have been lucky!).

K
kbaum17 March 14, 2015

@MATT4. Well, of course. I am sure this guy had bags that fit the regulations. Rather, what likely happened is that any number of rude travelers carried on 3 bags. Or they had 2 bags, but put BOTH bags in the overhead...thus preventing this good man from being able to carry his bag on the plane.

V
vishalgupta22 March 13, 2015

@ MATT4: So true.

M
Matt4 March 13, 2015

This guy would have been wiser to have a small carry on bag he could put under his front seat to avoid this kind of problem...