Though United Airline’s enforcement of size requirements for carry-on luggage has generated some controversy, the Chicago-based airline says the policy is meant to assist their customers.
“We listened to customers who have had the right-sized bags. [They have been] unable to put them in the overhead bins,” United spokesman Charles Hobart tells FlyerTalk.
The enforcement policy, which went into effect March 1, is meant to accommodate a far greater number of passengers who have previously been frustrated to find inadequate space to store their luggage, according to Mr. Hobart. This also helps in the efficiency of the deplaning process.
United has repeatedly insisted that this policy is not an attempt to increase fees by forcing passengers to check luggage.
Carry-on bags are to be no larger than 22 inches by 14 inches and nine inches in depth. Personal items are to be no larger than 17 inches by 10 inches and nine inches in depth.
Barry Maher, a consultant and author with Platinum status, has flown United multiple times since the policy shift and is pleased with the changes. “While I have a problem with much of what [United does] … limiting carry-on size is one policy I completely support,” he says.
Mr. Maher blames the cost of checked luggage for the prevalence of oversized carry-ons.
“Ever since [checked-baggage fee] charges have been instituted, it’s amazing what people try to carry on the plane: luggage large enough to hold a small car, gigantic shopping bags overflowing with who-knows-what, barnyard animals – stuffed of course – you name it,” he says.
Certainly not all frequent flyers agree. Marcy Schackne, vice president of marketing for Pathfinder Luggage, travels frequently for business and prefers the convenience of ‘grab and go.’ “[I] wish the airlines would not upset the many frequent flyers who are carry-on fans,” she says. “I think United’s new initiative will delay the boarding process and annoy passengers.” Pathfinder’s carry-ons are all the standard 45 linear inches, however, they do not all conform to United’s specific dimensional requirements.
Musicians have also voiced concern over the changes. One violinist said on FlyerTalk that his $90,000 instrument was larger than the sizing requirements. Mr. Hobart reiterated that if an instrument could not safely fit under the seat or in the overhead compartment, it would either have to be checked or a second seat would need to be purchased for it.
Dubbed as part of United’s “flyer-friendly initiative,” the campaign to alert the flying public to the changes began last month when the airline circulated internal newsletters to airport and airline staff alerting employees that the policy was going to be enforced. The flyer-friendly initiative also included the installation of larger overhead bins, which was another attempt at accommodating more bags.
Photo: United Airlines