Weighing carry-on baggage at CDG

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Old Oct 29, 15, 8:17 pm
  #61  
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I must be missing something in this long story.
But I fail to have much sympathy.

Some of us might find some airline rules a bit unsuited. Some of us might try to bend the rules and hope not to get caught. Enforcement of some rules are indeed a bit variable, especially in some countries with their specific culture. But well-publicized rules are rules, and they are mostly enforced. One can hardly complain when the rule says a maximum of 12kg and you pack 20kg. Begging, shouting or crying are not sufficient reasons to have an airline bend the rule.

When you throw away stuff in a garbage can and later discover that they have disappeared, you cannot file a claim that they have been stolen as you abandoned them willingly and publicly.

I have seen pax begging, shouting, crying at an airline agent and I do not see how it can be described as going on a power trip when an agent simply applies the rule in an obvious case. Maybe the Latin culture suggests that some accommodation should always be found, but I rather feel very sorry for what the agent has to endure.

The OP took a big risk in cheating and arriving at airport so late that he could not check his bag if his bluff was called (checkin deadline for Africa is 90 minutes).
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Old Oct 29, 15, 9:10 pm
  #62  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Of course it's judgmental. I never pretended otherwise. But I said that "my point was not to be judgmental". I could have said "my main intention was not to be judgmental".
Well, in my surely highly idiosyncratic and unusual way of looking at things, the way one gives effect to an intention not to be judgmental is to refrain from making judgmental comments.
I actually do believe a number of facts and elements and that they are neither made up nor exaggerated. I believe stories of:
  • AF agents that prefer asking a passenger to throw away his belongings rather than resorting to a very simple and pragmatic solution which would have helped the pax whilst still enforcing the rules. (My original wording was judgmental, the point was to say that I believe that such agents do exist at AF)
  • AF agents panicking when someone takes their name from a badge. (Again, I added some colour about that happening also with security staff and that this is wide-spread in France and less so in some other countries)
  • Having issues with pictures taken at airports (again, personal anecdote was just to describve that I believe it because it had happened to me).
But what people were put off by and questioning was not so much the raw facts but the spin put by the OP on them, which presented herself as a victim of a conspiration to be nasty to her.
Let us take the first point you mention in your list using your phrasing: "AF agents that prefer asking a passenger to throw away his belongings rather than resorting to a very simple and pragmatic solution which would have helped the pax whilst still enforcing the rules. " This is not a story or a statement of fact. It is a procès d'intention.
You make it sound like the AF agent deliberately acted with malice to make the passenger suffer.
A rather more mundane version, admittedly not as colourfully high drama as yours, is that the agent did what probably 95% of agents across most airlines would do in that situation.
Notice the difference between my version (the agent did what a typical airline agent would do) and your version (the AF agent had a choice and chose to hurt the passenger). Now, if you think that the AF agent's action were highly unusual and not what you would expect an agent to do, then I suppose that is fair enough. But if you do not believe that, then I am sorry, but this is just misleading spin, which is, moreover, damaging in feeding into the OP's paranoia rather than bringing a measure of context to help her bring her misadventure into perspective.


Admittedly my wording was more colourful in style and had judgmental connotations. But my post was in response to a number of other equally colourful and judgmental posts.
Ah, earlier posts were too incendiary so you thought that the best way to calm things down and dispense enlightenment was to throw a little bit more oil on the fire?


Check-in agents do place calls to the gate all the time and for all kinds of reasons, and hand luggage gets confiscated at the gate and put into the hold all the time. So why not make a call and say that hand luggage should be confiscated at the gate? Is it really such a strike of genius? Personally I don't think so.
OK. So, in your estimation, what percentage of agent would actually do that in those circumstances? I suspect that an infinitesimal proportion of agents would do that. And if that is the case, then we are in the world of highly exceptional agents. It is not so much about the agent being a genius but about it being something that agents would simply not do unless you were dealing with a star one. Do you disagree? Do you think that it would be very common on most airlines for agents to do what you think the agent should have done?

So I responded to your point of being unfair with a statement on fairness. Fair, isn't it?
Not quite. The point I make is that it is unfair to criticise an agent for not doing something that one would not realistically expect an agent to do as a matter of course. You have moved the object on which the point about fairness was to the meta level of "is it unfair for me to ask an airline to be a little pragmatic". The problem is that there is a no sequitur between the rhetorical question you asked ("is it unfair of me...") and the consequence that you want us to draw from it. Determining the question of whether there was an unfairness of expectation here requires first answering whether the actual expectation is a realistic one or not. OK this is turning into a meta-discussion about a meta-discussion about a meta-discussion, so I guess that we should stop it there, on that point at least.


Again, I think that my suggestion of a simple solution that the AF agents could have applied is very far from expecting some very distant best-in-class performance to be imported to Air France. We are not talking about making a superhuman effort and applying extreme creativity.
[...]
It doesn't take Egon Zehnder to recruit such profiles. A combination of common sense and customer orientation would suffice.
[...]
OK, then, since it is so obvious that even the thickest of numpties with only the smallest amount of common sense would get it as long as they have a modicum of customer orientation, it must follow then that the overwhelming majority of airline check-in employees would have done it, right?
Now, do you really believe that most check-in agents would have done this? Because I reckon that it would be very unusual for a check-in agent to actually do what you suggest.

With all due respect, it is also disingeneous to pick just a part of my sentence and make it appear as if I was applying the "but-this-has-always-worked-rule" (which I agree with you is nonsense). I argued that because a combination of things were in place there was no reason for the traveler to suspect that he was "playing it loose" and "playing with fire" as you mentioned: he may very well not be aware of the exact weight of his hand luggage (and I am absolutely certain that most people are not) and believed that it is within limits PLUS the fact that he could travel on the same airline without issues in the past.
No, I do not think that it is disingenuous. If the value of an argument is zero, then the value of that argument remains zero regardless of what you combine it with.
The "I had no problem with it on the way out" when the rules very clearly state that you are not allowed to do exactly that is a zero-value argument whatever you combine it with.

The point is that I fully sympathise with the passenger going to the airport thinking that all is well.
That is where we fundamentally disagree. I do not think that the passenger can reasonably argue that she had a legitimate expectation to be allowed to bring carry-on on-board regardless of weight. It was made very clear to the passenger what their hand baggage entitlement was and she elected to ignore that. That is when her ducks cease to be in a row. She places herself outside of normal processes and, in doing that, you open yourself to risk.


having no obvious reason to doubt that all is in order
but there was a reason to suspect, nay not just to suspect but to know, that not everything was in order: her carry-on was way over the weight limit.

and then being forced to throw away some of his items because there is no possibility to check in at the counter or at the gate
... which was the direct consequence of the OP not having left enough time because she thought she could get away with ignoring the carry-on limits and, unfortunately, it did not work. She is like the person who speeds and normally gets away with it but just got caught because they moved the speed camera.

The complaint is about the fact that doing the weight check before passport control rather than at the gate leads to situations where hand luggage can no longer be checked but passengers have to destroy their belongings.
But if this is just your argument, what do you keep throwing red herrings about whether it was reasonable for her to have that amount of hand luggage since people like me carry that luggage?

If the argument is just about the way it is enforced, just about there being a weight control at security, then it is utterly irrelevant whether she had 1 overweight bag or 5 excess bags with her.

You make several statements trying to convince me that the limits of hand luggage should be enforced. But there you are preaching to a converted.
Actually, no: I am rather agnostic as to whether they should be enforced or not. I really do not have strong views on this either way and I can very clearly see arguments for airlines not to enforce zealously those rules.
What I am saying is that: if you are told what the limits are and you choose to ignore them, then you should accept the consequences of your choices and there is something unbecoming in having an expectation that the airline will do everything in its power to alleviate the consequences of your decision to ignore their rules. It is bordering on hypocrisy, imo.

It is absolutely stupid because it can lead exactly to situations like the one described above.
But that is a circular argument. The "stupidity", as you call it, lies in that people who try to avoid the rules on hand baggage set by the airlines find themselves having to pay a price for it.

Is it widely accepted in the industry that weighing of hand luggage has to happen at security or passport control, running the risk that passengers have no more possibility to check their hand luggage?
No, it is not widely accepted in the industry that weighing of hand luggage has to happen at security but, imo, that is not because it would "run the risk that passengers have no more possibility to check their hand luggage." I do not think that airlines would be particularly exercised about that and, in any event, it would only be a question of a transitional adjustment until people get used to it. The issue is rather that it is not really practical due to the lack of uniformity in airline carry-on restrictions so that it would be impractical. Where you do have single terminal airlines, then that is a different story. In fact, IIRC some US airlines tended to do that at their hub: I have distinct memories of United controlling at the entrance to security queues in SFO whether you had no more than the allowed number of pieces with you. Whether they still do it, I do not know as I do not fly United any more (and I am in any event always within airline limits on carry ons when it comes to number of pieces anyway).

Again, this is not something that I would particularly welcome but I can certainly see some logic behind it and, to that extent, I do not think that it could be called "idiotic". Less passenger-friendly, maybe but that does not make it "idiotic."
Just because we do not like something does not mean that it is idiotic

Last edited by NickB; Oct 29, 15 at 9:22 pm
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Old Oct 30, 15, 12:24 am
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Originally Posted by brunos View Post
Some of us might try to bend the rules and hope not to get caught.
Not sure whether that is directed to me or to the Dakar traveler. But I certainly never argued that rules should be bent. And if I correctly understood the Dakar traveler (s)he was never asking for her to be let on board with her overweight hand luggage.

So if the discussion is about whether hand luggage rules should be enforced: absolutely.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 6:30 am
  #64  
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
But I certainly never argued that rules should be bent.
Afaik, AF does not advertise a "check-in at the gate" service. Passengers are expected to check their luggage at the check-in counter.
So the passenger expected: 1) to avoid the rules on maximum hand baggage allowance and 2) for rules on baggage check-in to be bent for her when her attempt at 1) was rumbled.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 8:15 am
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Ok, I won't use quotes, not because I am running away from a debate but because it seems to get us to discussions on writing style, wordings, implicit assumptions, and we start reacting to things never daid, take them out of context and so on.

So we agree on the following:

* Hand luggage rules are what they are and every passenger should be expected to have them applied to him and abide by them
* Because one didn't get caught in the past transgressing a rule doesn't mean that the rule doesn't exist
* Because one didn't get caught in the past transgressing a rule doesn't mean that the rule doesn't have to be abided by
* Because one didn't get caught in the past transgressing a rule doesn't mean that the rule can expected to be bent when caught
* Having a setup where hand luggage checks happen at security may be the preferred choice for some airlines and may have certain advantages, but it is less passenger-friendly
* The Dakar tale is colourful and over-dramatic, parts of it are mere claims and difficult to prove anyway

Where we agree to disagree or I am not sure whether you agree or not:
* I do believe the Element of the Dakar tale that the AF staff did not let the passenger go to the gate without throwing some of his belongings and that they weren't happy about having their names and pictures taken
* I think that having to throw away personal belongings is something quite serious and if it can be avoided without any major effort it should be avoided
* I think that it would have been extremely simple to avoid forcing the passenger to throw away his belongings. The passenger did suggest to staff to check his overweight hand luggage at the gate, and it would only have taken them a phone call to the gate (something they do all the time anyway) or a note on the BP.
* I also think that it doesn't take genius or a completely different profile of agents to make a simple phone call after that was suggested by the pax, or even for an agent of a full service airline to have that idea himself. I believe it only takes a little common sense and customer-orientation. I also believe that more common sense and customer orientation is something we often called for on this forum
* I also believe that it's fair to criticise an agent for a lack of common sense and customer orientation. Admittedly I have different expectations from an agent of s European full-service airine, a hard-core LCC, and some other full service airlines (the ME3 are famous for having staff that do not do anything which they haven't been explicitly told to do, for fear of transgressing a rule which then leads to deportation, and often for not actually understanding the customer's request)
* I believe that when a traveler is aware of an issue or suspects an issue with things like luggage or ticket or passport, one should arrive very early at the airport, even much earlier than the CKI deadline. However, one must have a reason to think that there is an issue or there could be an issue.
* I do not believe that weight of hand luggage can be compared with number of pieces of luggage or having a boarding card when it comes to expecting issues at the airport. It's extremely easy for every traveller to determine whether or not he has a boarding pass, by just checking whether or not he has it. It is extremely easy for every traveler to check whether the number of luggage he has is within the limits, I just counting them. It is much more difficult to determine whether the weight of one's hand luggage (or any piece of luggage for that matter) is within the limits, because it requires weighing the luggage. But not every traveller always has access to a scale, and often the way indicated by that scale is not the same as the one measured by the airline at the airport. So Every traveller has to make a judgement call based on factors that he can actually determine. One of them is looking at the actual piece of hand luggage in front of him, and taking a reasonable estimate of what the weight is. The second is historical evidence. Looking at a piece of hand luggage that does look within the limits and that in the past never caused a problem, it is fair to expect that the probability of *not* causing a problem is higher than the probability of causing a problem. In that case, there is nothing that leads the traveller to believe that it could be miss you at the airport. Of course one should be aware that there is no certainty that the assessment of probability is right and that one has to possibly check the hand luggage into the hold. (and I fully understand that this is an estimation of probability, not certainty, and therefore not grounds for expecting to have rules bent)
* I also believe that in a case where everything can be reasonably expected to be in order a arriving at the airport 70 minutes before departure is not unreasonable. It does leave enough time to check hand luggage at the gate in case if it is overweight or oversize.
* I am aware that AF does not advertise a "check at the gate" service, but that is not required. Even without such a service offering AF every day confiscates hand luggage from passengers, including in CDG 2 where checks for some passages have already taken place prior to arriving at the gate. So Air France *can* take hand luggage at the gate and does so every day.
* I furthermore believe that having the weight of hand luggage checked at security rather than at the gate is highly uncommon, and passengers cannot expect that set up. It is therefore reasonable for passengers to expect to have the hand luggage confiscated at the gate in case it is overweight or oversize. Leaving 70 minutes for that procedure is reasonable.
* Moreover, the fact that hand luggage weight is checked at security and not at the gate is not published anywhere a passenger can be expected to check for this kind of rule. A passenger can be expected to be aware of the weight limitations of hand luggage, because they are clearly publicised. But the fact that this way to check does not happen at the gates is Not on the airline's website nor in the fare rules. Which is another reason for thinking that it is reasonable to arrive 70 minutes before departure at the airport.
* I therefore believe that the situation a passenger is put in when his hand luggage is found to be overweight already at security with no possibility to check and luggage at the gate is a bad surprise, leaving the passenger with only bad choices.
* I also believe that an airline like Air France should be understanding about how a very large number of travellers, if not the vast majority, pack their hand luggage. They don't weigh it. As a consequence, passangets should be given the possibility to transport their overweight hand luggage in the hold. If the set up chosen by the airline makes that impossible, I also believe the airline should be expected to make a phone call - the kind of thing that it does all the time anyway - to have hand luggage confiscated at the gate, something that happens all the time anyway as well.

* I do not believe that rules should be taken lightly by passengers and that they should just turn up at the airport whenever and assume that some miracle will happen. But I do have sympathy with someone who thinks for reasons which I deem valid that there won't be a problem with the weight of hand luggage and if there is, the problem can be resolved at the gate, to be unhappy about finding the that surprise that hand luggage is weighed at security and is not taken at the gate as is the case almost everywhere else.

(Obviously from here we can take the debate to discussing whether or not it was reasonable to assume that the hand luggage was within weight limits. But that is a debate that I am really running away from, because I would have to put myself into the mind of the Dakar traveller)

* I do not believe that there is any benefit in doing hand luggage weight checks at security. First, it is inconvenient for passengers. Second, it doesnt cause departure delays. The bottleneck is people standing in the aisle and in the jetway because those who have boarded first take time to sit down and free the aisle. Keeping passengers a little longer at the gate would only reduce the time that they stand in the jetway or the aisle before getting to their seats. But They will not get to their seat any earlier, so there is no impact on departure time of the aircraft

* On style, we agree that the Dakar Traveler tail and the following responses were colourful, and so was mine. I do not believe that I should be criticised more than others for just continuing in that style and for not bringing "calm" to the discussion. That is my role as much or as little as anybody else's on this form (with the exception of the moderators, who have a designated and explicit peacekeeper role)

--------

And for a separate debate, just on logic:

You stated that an argument which has zero value does not have more value when combined with others.

In the context that I used this argument I disagree. As stated above I do agree that not being caught in the past transgressing a rule does not necessarily mean that the rule doesn't exist, that it had been abided by, or that it will be bent in the future. No *certainty* about the future can be derived from it. It has zero value.

But I was using the argument in connection not with certainty, but with *probability* ("how probable is it that my hand luggage is overweight?"). And to assess probability, one uses all the available indicators. Past experience is one of them. So if this indicator is one additional one confirming or disproving my initial hypothesis ("My hand luggage is not overweight because all the other indicators that I have looked at lead me to believe that it isn't ") then it does have value when combined with other indicators. It's the *combination* of several indicators, each of which may have very low value on its own, that I can get a better assessment of probability.

Last edited by San Gottardo; Oct 30, 15 at 8:38 am
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Old Oct 30, 15, 10:29 am
  #66  
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Originally Posted by WheelsFirst View Post
There's something inherently silly about allowing a passenger weighing 90 kg to board with a 2kg bag but deny a 55 kg passenger to bring a 13 kg bag.
That's not the point here. Overhead bins are certified for a max weight of their content.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
I also believe that it's fair to criticise an agent for a lack of common sense and customer orientation. Admittedly I have different expectations from an agent of s European full-service airine, a hard-core LCC, and some other full service airlines (the ME3 are famous for having staff that do not do anything which they haven't been explicitly told to do, for fear of transgressing a rule which then leads to deportation, and often for not actually understanding the customer's request)
Would you mind answering the question which you have studiously avoided to answer up until now, namely:
do you consider that what the agent did was widely out of line with what a typical check-in agent would have done (and I am happy for this to be restricted to a "European full service airline")? Is it self-evident to you that, had the agent been, say, a BA, IB, AZ, LH, SK, FI, etc... check-in agent with a similar set-up to stop oversize/overweight baggage coming though, the agent would without doubt have called to gate and accompanied to pax to security to ensure that the pax be allowed through?

Because, I must say, it is anything but self-evident to me and my expectation would be exactly the reverse: most agents would have done pretty much the same thing. Yes, there might have been the odd agent that might have tried to see whether gate checking might be possible. But, then, what you are essentially criticising AF for is for not having above average agents that are better than the typical European full-service airline agents. If that is what you are criticising AF for, then fine. You can make that criticism if you wish. I would disagree with you because I find that it is not a reasonable standard to expect but we would be clear as to what exactly our disagreement is.

Had I been in the OP's shoes and an agent had done what she suggested (called the gate, accompanied me through security, etc...), I would have been well-chuffed and very grateful to the agent. This is not standard behaviour that I would have expected from the agent. To put it in a BA frame, that would have been something worthy of a "golden ticket". What does this signify? It signifies that this is not the typical standard that I expect from agents (otherwise why would I be grateful for agents for just doing their job?) but is above and beyond. I do not think that it is a reasonable criticism to target at an airline that all of its agents are not routinely going above and beyond.

There is a major difference between being disappointed that an agent did not go above and beyond what a typical agent would do and criticising the airline for being "unfair" because its agents are not outstanding agents.


I do not believe that weight of hand luggage can be compared with number of pieces of luggage or having a boarding card when it comes to expecting issues at the airport. It's extremely easy for every traveller to determine whether or not he has a boarding pass, by just checking whether or not he has it. It is extremely easy for every traveler to check whether the number of luggage he has is within the limits, I just counting them. It is much more difficult to determine whether the weight of one's hand luggage (or any piece of luggage for that matter) is within the limits, because it requires weighing the luggage.
The OP's luggage was not 500g or 1kg above. It was 19kg, 7 kg above the weight limit. I think that, again, this is a disingenuous argument. I do not think that it is likely that the OP told herself that her hand luggage was probably no more than 12kg. It seems to me infinitely more likely that the OP simply did not bother estimating the weight of her hand luggage and merely assumed that she could simply ignore the weight limits and bring it onboard regardless of weight. More generally, I do not believe that those of us who travel around with 19kg in hand baggage actually believe that the weight of our luggage is below 12kg. I think that most of us know that it is likely to be above that level but make a deliberate choice to carry it nonetheless. I would have some sympathy with your argument in relation to a zealous agent making a fuss for a bag which is just above the limit. But this is not what we are talking about here.
Besides, if someone was genuinely in doubt as to how whether their hand baggage is within limits or not, there is a very easy way to check: just go to the check-in desk and they will be more than happy to weigh it for you.


The second is historical evidence. Looking at a piece of hand luggage that does look within the limits and that in the past never caused a problem, it is fair to expect that the probability of *not* causing a problem is higher than the probability of causing a problem.
Well, that depends on what one means by "not causing a problem". It is a reasonable inference to draw that, if I have never been stopped before, then the odds of being stopped are probabl lower than otherwise. But this is similar to: I have never been caught speeding on this road before, therefore the odds of being caught speeding are low. What this does not allow you to conclude is that the speed limit is higher than the speed you were driving at.

If your baggage had been regularly weighed on previous occasions and each time you were within the weight limits, and the baggage seems more or less the same to you, then I agree that you could make an inference that your baggage is probably within limits. If you have not been stopped before to have your hand luggage weighed, you simply cannot conclude from this that your luggage is within limits. It merely tells you that the odds of being caught are low. That is not at all the same thing.

I am aware that AF does not advertise a "check at the gate" service, but that is not required. Even without such a service offering AF every day confiscates hand luggage from passengers, including in CDG 2 where checks for some passages have already taken place prior to arriving at the gate. So Air France *can* take hand luggage at the gate and does so every day.
This was in answer to your statement that "I certainly never argued that rules should be bent." It seems to me that you are doing precisely that here: you are expecting rules on checking baggage at the desk by the check-in deadline to be waived and the passenger being allowed to check luggage at the gate instead.

Besides, on the wider point, of course they CAN do it. AF CAN hold a plane for late coming passengers. An airline agent CAN use her own money to buy a ticket for a passenger, Air France CAN under certain circumstances issue passes allowing individuals who do not fly to go airside, Af CAN decide to schedule an extra flight, etc... it does not follow that you have a reasonable entitlement or expectation for this to happen. Just because something is physically possible does not mean that it I can have a reasonable expectation that it will be done.

I furthermore believe that having the weight of hand luggage checked at security rather than at the gate is highly uncommon, and passengers cannot expect that set up.
Speed cameras on this stretch of empty road are highly uncommon. Mobile controls are normally carried out at the entrance to the village, ergo I have a legitimate complaint if a mobile camera catches me speeding in this empty road stretch?

It is true that, in the majority of cases, ignoring the rules on maximum weight for baggage will have little or no impact on the passenger concerned. This is part of the calculations some of us make to take the risk to ignore them. But it does not follow from this that we have an entitlement to be spared from the unanticipated consequences of or decision to take the risk to ignore them. That is our problem if we do that and it is not appropriate for us to attempt to blame the airline for the consequences of our choice to ignore the rule, even where those consequences are unanticipated due to our assumptions at to how the rule will be enforced.
AF makes no representation whatsoever as to their processes for enforcing the rule. If you want to make assumptions about this based on your past experience, fine. But these are YOUR assumptions, not representations made by AF.
AF is very clear as to what they expect you to do if you have luggage that exceeds hand luggage allowance: you are told that you have to go to a check-in desk before the check-in deadline and check it. You don't want to do it and want to risk it? Fine but that is your problem if things then go pear-shaped due to your own choices.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 11:57 am
  #68  
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Hi San Gottardo,

You know that I very very often agree with you on most things, but I will admit that this is not the case here for the following reasons:

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
* Having a setup where hand luggage checks happen at security may be the preferred choice for some airlines and may have certain advantages, but it is less passenger-friendly
I disagree. It might be more friendly to delinquent passengers (ie, those who do not meet hand luggage requirement be it in terms of weight, number of bags, or their size, but not to the vast majority of passengers who much prefer that boarding is not slowed down by hand luggage problems (see my answer to your other point below).

In fact, rationally, one could even argue that allowing gate checking almost gives passengers an additional incentive to "cheat" and hope to get away with it because you are pretty much guaranteed early delivery of an unauthorised bag through the "stroller hold" as the OP wanted to get.

Again, I am saying that as someone who often has high weight hand luggage.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
[SIZE=1]* Moreover, the fact that hand luggage weight is checked at security and not at the gate is not published anywhere a passenger can be expected to check for this kind of rule. A passenger can be expected to be aware of the weight limitations of hand luggage, because they are clearly publicised. But the fact that this way to check does not happen at the gates is Not on the airline's website nor in the fare rules. Which is another reason for thinking that it is reasonable to arrive 70 minutes before departure at the airport.
* I therefore believe that the situation a passenger is put in when his hand luggage is found to be overweight already at security with no possibility to check and luggage at the gate is a bad surprise, leaving the passenger with only bad choices.
I'm really confused about the first point you are making. Why should an airline "publicise" where it could check hand luggage limits?? A rule is a rule and checks can literally happen anywhere. You seem to think that the default is weight checking at the gate, but in my experience this is actually extremely rare. Before the age of web check in, the most frequent place where hand luggage weight, numbers, and dimensions would be checked would be at check in, and it still happens there.

However, because many people do not go through check in counters any more, I would argue that the next most logical place to do it in a terminal where an airline is dominant is most certainly at security: there are significant economies of scale in doing it that way: one person can check all O/D pax and another all connecting pax as opposed to requiring one person per gate. This should make it easy for an airline like AF to then limit the number of gate agents and save significant money. We cannot have one thread where we all agree that AF is too costly in terms of grounds services and needs to compress personnel, and then another where we mock their attempt to be more rational in their use of ground staff, which is exactly what this is about!

I also do not think that the airline can be blamed for the passenger's "bad surprise" because it controls what it is supposed to early! 70 minutes before the flight, the OP would have been able to return to the check in counter and have her bag checked in. End of story. Instead, she tried to "negotiate" something with multiple people until it became too late for the airline to accept the bag for check in!

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
* I do not believe that weight of hand luggage can be compared with number of pieces of luggage or having a boarding card when it comes to expecting issues at the airport. It's extremely easy for every traveller to determine whether or not he has a boarding pass, by just checking whether or not he has it. It is extremely easy for every traveler to check whether the number of luggage he has is within the limits, I just counting them. It is much more difficult to determine whether the weight of one's hand luggage (or any piece of luggage for that matter) is within the limits, because it requires weighing the luggage. But not every traveller always has access to a scale, and often the way indicated by that scale is not the same as the one measured by the airline at the airport.
To be honest, I am not really convinced by this argument either. Sure, passengers do not all have access to a scale but do they all have access to a tape measurer? Yet, dimensions are also limited and "historical evidence" is as pointless for weight as it is for dimensions as here again airlines vary a lot in terms of what they authorise.

The solution is simple, as in all walks in life: if you are unsure, better safe than sorry. I really cannot think that thinking "I might be above or below the limit" is a good excuse at all. Frankly, to be honest, as someone who often has hand luggage that weights around 12-13kg, and sometimes around 18-19kg, I can promise you that it feels very different. I am quite young, reasonably sportsy and fit (sorry, sounds very arrogant!) and yet I consider 19kg to be fairly heavy hand luggage. For one think, I would never let my partner (she is even far more sports-oriented and fit than me!) put 19kg of hand luggage in the overhead by herself if I am travelling with her! My sense is that when you have 19kg of hand luggage, you have a pretty good idea that you do not have 12, and even if your perception of weights is strangely clouded you would at least know that there is enough of a risk that you should arrive early in case there is a problem.

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
* I do not believe that there is any benefit in doing hand luggage weight checks at security. First, it is inconvenient for passengers. Second, it doesnt cause departure delays. The bottleneck is people standing in the aisle and in the jetway because those who have boarded first take time to sit down and free the aisle. Keeping passengers a little longer at the gate would only reduce the time that they stand in the jetway or the aisle before getting to their seats. But They will not get to their seat any earlier, so there is no impact on departure time of the aircraft
Here again, I very much disagree. There are at least two benefits in doing whatever hand luggage checks at security rather than at the gate. The first one is that it makes boarding far more efficient if no bag has to be refused there at the gate. I disagree with you that there is no time gain - many times have I sat on a plane and wasted some minutes because excess hand luggage had to be put in the hold.

Second, it is more expensive for airlines to have luggage checked at the gate rather than at the check in counter, because there again, you need people to handle the baggage, put it in the hold, etc. If you can do without those people, you save money, and there is really no reason why the airline (ie the other passengers) should swallow that additional cost when in practice, they can do without it for most flights. So here again, I very much see why airlines might prefer early checks to late ones.

There is, of course, one typical advantage in gate checks which is that the airline's attitude can be tailored to how full a specific flight is and how likely it is that hand luggage will be an issue. That could easily be lost with a centralised check, and I would personally prefer the airlines to take this element into account, for instance by giving the hand luggage checkers some instructions not only on whose hand luggage to check (it is not unreasonable for priority passengers to be less targeted in my view as more leeway is fine as higher hand luggage is typically a hard perk for premium class pax, and, depending on airlines, often a hard or a soft perk for high status passengers), but also on which flights need particular attention or, on the contrary, could escape too heavy a hand (First ask passengers which flights they are on: AF xx, yy, zz are very full today, so please check their hand luggage carefully if they are on that flight, AF aa, bb, cc are not busy so ensuring strict compliance may be less of a priority).

I am still of the same opinion as before. Does the weight rule make sense to me? Not really, but if it is there, it is there and I understand that it may be applied to me as to everyone else.

Do I think it should be enforced strictly? No, but to me pragmatic application should mostly be about how likely it is that hand luggage will prove problematic on a given flight (some destinations typically attract more hand luggage than others, and some are more full than others).

If one accepts that the rule is here and that the flight is not particularly empty, then I don't think it is wrong of the airline to apply the check early, I do not think that the passenger has a right to "choose" how it will be applied (again, to go back to my example of weight checks being most frequent at check in counters, you certainly would not expect the check in agent to allow you to take your ineligible bag to the gate even if it is now too late to accept bags for check in).

So all in all, the OP has made some serious accusations that will be (or have been) investigated. If they are not founded, then I really do not think that AF's handling just because it has checked the weight of her overweight bag, and just because the airline did not wait till the last minute to make that check, could be faulted.

Last edited by orbitmic; Oct 30, 15 at 12:05 pm
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Old Oct 30, 15, 12:20 pm
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Good, we seem to narrow down on just a few points (I am saying that because we typically agree on almost everything. Well, not this time, but at least we filter out what it is that separates us):

Originally Posted by NickB View Post
Would you mind answering the question which you have studiously avoided to answer up until now, namely:
Sorry, really not done on purpose. I just didn't see the question that way.

do you consider that what the agent did was widely out of line with what a typical check-in agent would have done (and I am happy for this to be restricted to a "European full service airline")? Is it self-evident to you that, had the agent been, say, a BA, IB, AZ, LH, SK, FI, etc... check-in agent with a similar set-up to stop oversize/overweight baggage coming though, the agent would without doubt have called to gate
I do believe indeed that it is not completely out of line. I do believe that with a passenger in front of him that is perfectly fine with checking his overweight hand luggage + the counter check in deadline over + the passenger having only one choice which is to destroy some of his personal belongings + the passenger suggesting "I am happy to hand it over at the gate if you cannot take here" - I do believe that many if not most of a check-in agent with some common sense and some "sensitivity" to customer needs would have made that call.

You think it's out of line. I think it would happen. One of us is wrong , and we have no way of knowing (and certainly neither of us has the appetite to try it out!)

It would be a completely different story if the only way to have the passenger check his luggage at the gate would have been to something extremely cumbersome/time-consuming/hasslesome/complex, such as get written permission from a superior in the AF hierarchy, would have required an agent to go with the pax all the way to the gate, would have required AF gate agents to confiscate lugggage although they otherwise never do it, etc. But it was not that difficult. It was actually bloody simple. One phone call.

and accompanied to pax to security to ensure that the pax be allowed through?
Err, no. Did I say that I'd expect that?


But, then, what you are essentially criticising AF for is for not having above average agents that are better than the typical European full-service airline agents.
There we can agree to disagree. I do not think that it takes above average agents to understand the overall situation and to follow up on a suggestion of someone else (the agent doesn't even need to have the IQ/wherewithal/savviness/creativity to have himself the idea to let the passenger do it at the gate!)

If that is what you are criticising AF for, then fine. You can make that criticism if you wish. I would disagree with you because I find that it is not a reasonable standard to expect but we would be clear as to what exactly our disagreement is.
We are

Had I been in the OP's shoes and an agent had done what she suggested (called the gate, accompanied me through security, etc...), I would have been well-chuffed and very grateful to the agent.
Absolutely!! And don't get me wrong: I do not suggest that this kind of thing should be standard procedure. All I am saying is that no harm would have been done and no superhuman effort would have been required to find a pragmatic solution. But certainly for the customer something the marketing people call "moment of gratitude" (customer realises he has a real problem but company/agent does something extra to fix that problem. Increases that customer's loyalty).

This is not standard behaviour that I would have expected from the agent. To put it in a BA frame, that would have been something worthy of a "golden ticket".
Yep.

What does this signify? It signifies that this is not the typical standard that I expect from agents (otherwise why would I be grateful for agents for just doing their job?) but is above and beyond. I do not think that it is a reasonable criticism to target at an airline that all of its agents are not routinely going above and beyond.
Well, except that in this case (i) it was even suggested by the pax, so no need for the agent to even come up with the idea and (ii) the choice was between something radically bad (somebody having to throw away personal items, which as I explained I personally find very serious) and something very easy to do to avoid it.

There is a major difference between being disappointed that an agent did not go above and beyond what a typical agent would do and criticising the airline for being "unfair" because its agents are not outstanding agents.
I am not criticizing the agents to be unfair. Nor do I criticize them not to be outstanding. I criticized them for not doing something easy and pragmatic in the face of a situation which is dramatic for one of its customers.

The OP's luggage was not 500g or 1kg above. It was 19kg, 7 kg above the weight limit. I think that, again, this is a disingenuous argument. I do not think that it is likely that the OP told herself that her hand luggage was probably no more than 12kg.
As I said, I am not going into that part of the argument. I don't know what the OP thought or assumed (and I take the liberty to presume that you do neither?).

But the point I made is independent of this particular Dakar tale. I made that point to demonstrate that in general people who have overweight hand luggage are not necessarily aware of it or think "I am doing something I shouldn't be doing and I hope or will try to get around the rule". Many many (most?) people simply have no means to determine the weight of their hand luggage and are perfectly good-willed and also have no issue whatsoever to check it when the airline asks them to do so.

Maybe here is another difference we have: you seem to - and please correctly if I misunderstood you - to assume that everybody with overweight hand luggage is a cheater who tries to get around the rules. I believe that people are just naive or bad at estimating the weight of their hand luggage.

It seems to me infinitely more likely that the OP simply did not bother estimating the weight of her hand luggage and merely assumed that she could simply ignore the weight limits and bring it onboard regardless of weight.
Maybe. Maybe not. I'll let you speculate, but I won't because I have absolutely zero facts that would allow me to make any hypothesis whatsoever about what Dakar traveler thought or assumed or believed or estimated as weight or..... As I said, I'll step away from that part of the discussion.

More generally, I do not believe that those of us who travel around with 19kg in hand baggage actually believe that the weight of our luggage is below 12kg. I think that most of us know that it is likely to be above that level but make a deliberate choice to carry it nonetheless.
I think the opposite. But we have no way of telling.

I would have some sympathy with your argument in relation to a zealous agent making a fuss for a bag which is just above the limit. But this is not what we are talking about here.
But you're again bringing this back to an argument about whether AF staff should have allowed the Dakar traveler through with his overweight hand luggage. Nobody says that the agents were overzealous by not letting someone through with 7 kgs of overweight hand luggage. And I certainly never criticized them for not allowing that.

Besides, if someone was genuinely in doubt as to how whether their hand baggage is within limits or not, there is a very easy way to check: just go to the check-in desk and they will be more than happy to weigh it for you.
But that is precisely the point: *if* someone is in doubt. My point was that many people are not, and the Dakar Traveler apparently wasn't either. What was it that should have led him to doubt?

It is a different discussion whether the Dakar traveler *should* have been in doubt given that 7kgs is quite a lot of difference. But there again, I won't participate in the debate if he was naive, can't do realistic estimates of weight ,or whatever. I can't be in his mind and debate that.

Well, that depends on what one means by "not causing a problem". It is a reasonable inference to draw that, if I have never been stopped before, then the odds of being stopped are probabl lower than otherwise. But this is similar to: I have never been caught speeding on this road before, therefore the odds of being caught speeding are low. What this does not allow you to conclude is that the speed limit is higher than the speed you were driving at.
Not my point, not at all actually. The way you write it I agree (see one of the first things I mention that we agree on in my previous post).

In your speeding example i) there is certainty, because the driver *knows* his speed (it's right in front of him) ii) hence the driver *knows* that he is breaking a rule shouldn't and hopes to get away with it (=bad intention). In the hand luggage example, i) for practical purposes a traveler often does *not know* the weight of his hand luggage, hence there is no certainty ii) and therefore a traveler does not base his assessment of whether he'll be stopped solely on only one indicator but several iii) historical evidence is just one of them, where historical evidence *could* mean that the hand luggage in the past was indeed within limits iv) traveler is not aware that he may be breaking a rule v) has no intention to break the rule and is happy to fix the "breaking the rule" attempt by checking the overweight piece of luggage.

Why compare someone who has the intention and is aware that he is breaking the rule with someone who does not have that intention and does not know whether he is?

If your baggage had been regularly weighed on previous occasions and each time you were within the weight limits, and the baggage seems more or less the same to you, then I agree that you could make an inference that your baggage is probably within limits. If you have not been stopped before to have your hand luggage weighed, you simply cannot conclude from this that your luggage is within limits. It merely tells you that the odds of being caught are low. That is not at all the same thing.
Exactly. But "the odds are low" based not only on historical evidence but also on other factors is what drives someone to believe that he is within the limits.

This was in answer to your statement that "I certainly never argued that rules should be bent." It seems to me that you are doing precisely that here: you are expecting rules on checking baggage at the desk by the check-in deadline to be waived and the passenger being allowed to check luggage at the gate instead.
Sorry, I don't get that one. Where is the rule that hand luggage can only be checked at the counter? Why then does Air France confiscate hand luggage at the gate (and often even on board) all the time? Typically these are items where passengers - reasonably or not - believe that they are OK as hand luggage but the airline does not. We are not talking about luggage that is hold luggage anyway for its size which indeed can/should only be checked at the counter before the check-in deadline.

Besides, on the wider point, of course they CAN do it. AF CAN hold a plane for late coming passengers. An airline agent CAN use her own money to buy a ticket for a passenger, Air France CAN under certain circumstances issue passes allowing individuals who do not fly to go airside, Af CAN decide to schedule an extra flight, etc...
One can destroy any argument by taking it ad absurdum. Of course Air France can do plenty of things, many of which are extremely distant from what it does every day and for which procedures are established and/or which have massive financial consequences for the airline. I am talking about confiscating hand luggage at the gate, which happens *every day* maybe several hundred times. So it is not that they have to invent it for this passenger, they only have to apply to this one passenger the same procedure they apply to others.

it does not follow that you have a reasonable entitlement or expectation for this to happen. Just because something is physically possible does not mean that it I can have a reasonable expectation that it will be done.
Again, you are arguing on something I never said. I never said that one should expect something only because it's physically possible. That is of course unrealistic. See my previous paragraph, it is not unreasonable to expect that a procedure that is applied to many other passengers to also be applied to one more.

Speed cameras on this stretch of empty road are highly uncommon. Mobile controls are normally carried out at the entrance to the village, ergo I have a legitimate complaint if a mobile camera catches me speeding in this empty road stretch?
Huh?

Again, you are taking the example of speeding where someone knows that he is breaking the rule and tries to get away with it. Which has nothing to do with this case. The rest I don't understand.

It is true that, in the majority of cases, ignoring the rules on maximum weight for baggage will have little or no impact on the passenger concerned. This is part of the calculations some of us make to take the risk to ignore them. But it does not follow from this that we have an entitlement to be spared from the unanticipated consequences of or decision to take the risk to ignore them. That is our problem if we do that and it is not appropriate for us to attempt to blame the airline for the consequences of our choice to ignore the rule, even where those consequences are unanticipated due to our assumptions at to how the rule will be enforced.
AF makes no representation whatsoever as to their processes for enforcing the rule. If you want to make assumptions about this based on your past experience, fine. But these are YOUR assumptions, not representations made by AF.
AF is very clear as to what they expect you to do if you have luggage that exceeds hand luggage allowance: you are told that you have to go to a check-in desk before the check-in deadline and check it. You don't want to do it and want to risk it? Fine but that is your problem if things then go pear-shaped due to your own choices.
Again, I don't get that (and I don't blame you for that, I suppose it's me).

Just that one bit:

AF is very clear as to what they expect you to do if you have luggage that exceeds hand luggage allowance: you are told that you have to go to a check-in desk before the check-in deadline and check it.
AF is very clear about what they expect? Where am I being told what they expect?

At the airport, fine, but not before, I just checked their website and my last e-ticket. So what means do I have as a passenger to know how their setup works and what they expect? None (other than this site, but Air France cannot rely on FlyerTalk to be the source of information for passenger who have the wherewithal to ask themselves the question whether Air France could possibly be one of the few airlines or possibly the only one that at one of its airports checks the weight of hand luggage at security and not at the gate). Hence, since I am not being told before and I cannot find out from the airline even if I proactively search that info, I go by assumptions/probability. And that leads me to expect that this kind of checking happens at the gate.

In the end, I have no issues with rules being enforced but I remain very critical about the setup that Air France has chosen at CDG2 and their lack of common sense/customer friendliness/<whatever word people want to fill in without misinterpreting me> when passengers without bad intentions are squeezed by it. They could just do what other airlines and airports do and there wouldn't be problems like this.

PS: and please, do not turn around my arguments as if I was arguing for cheaters to be allowed to cheat. I am not.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 1:06 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post

I disagree. It might be more friendly to delinquent passengers
As well as to those who do not intend to cheat. In fact it was NickB who said that it was less passenger friendly, I just built on his argument.

In fact, rationally, one could even argue that allowing gate checking almost gives passengers an additional incentive to "cheat" and hope to get away with it because you are pretty much guaranteed early delivery of an unauthorised bag through the "stroller hold" as the OP wanted to get.
This seems to have taken a notion of "there is a service called gate check-in" which I would favour. Not my point at all. My point is that in any case today airlines do confiscate hand luggage that is too heavy or too large or doesn't fit on board any more at the gate. That isn't a service that they offer to passengers, that is a remedy that airlines apply. And they didn't do away with that even at those airports where a first check happens at security (such as CDG 2). All I am saying is that since the remedy of confiscating at the gate is applied anyway, apply it.

I'm really confused about the first point you are making. Why should an airline "publicise" where it could check hand luggage limits?? A rule is a rule and checks can literally happen anywhere.
Absolutely. But on the basis that I assume that many hand luggage weight offenders are not intending to break the rule they simply say "and in any case, if the airline tells me that my hand luggage is too heavy they'll just take it at the gate and I'll retrieve it from the baggage belt at arrival". So they believe that the airline has a remedy that will allow passengers to abide by the rules without big risks (such as having to throw away their belongings). They believe that remedy does exist because that is how it happens almost everywhere.

You seem to think that the default is weight checking at the gate, but in my experience this is actually extremely rare.
The *weighing* of hand luggage is rare indeed. But not only at the gate. In fact it is rare altogether.

Before the age of web check in, the most frequent place where hand luggage weight, numbers, and dimensions would be checked would be at check in, and it still happens there.
.... for those who actually go to the counter, as you also said yourself:

However, because many people do not go through check in counters any more, I would argue that the next most logical place to do it in a terminal where an airline is dominant is most certainly at security: there are significant economies of scale in doing it that way: one person can check all O/D pax and another all connecting pax as opposed to requiring one person per gate. This should make it easy for an airline like AF to then limit the number of gate agents and save significant money. We cannot have one thread where we all agree that AF is too costly in terms of grounds services and needs to compress personnel, and then another where we mock their attempt to be more rational in their use of ground staff, which is exactly what this is about!
The number of gate agents is certainly not driven by the need to check passenger's hand luggage. They'll keep the same number of agents and just process people faster through the gate (which has no benefit at all because the plane won't leave earlier and they won't close the gate earlier in almost all cases).

On the same token, we can't have posts all the time how customer-unfriendly and ununderstanding Air France is and then argue that it is better for them to force a paying customer to throw away some personal belongings than make a simple phone call, which is what this one is about!

I also do not think that the airline can be blamed for the passenger's "bad surprise" because it controls what it is supposed to early!
Nobody *blames* the airline for that.

70 minutes before the flight, the OP would have been able to return to the check in counter and have her bag checked in. End of story.
Actually not. See an earlier post where I was explained that check-in to African destinations closes 90 minutes before departure.

Instead, she tried to "negotiate" something with multiple people until it became too late for the airline to accept the bag for check in!
It was too late anyway for checking it at the counter. It was early enough for the counter agents to call the gate and tell them to confiscate the hand luggage .

To be honest, I am not really convinced by this argument either. Sure, passengers do not all have access to a scale but do they all have access to a tape measurer?
i) Not sure they do, but for the sake of argument let's assume they do.
ii) How do dimensions help to estimate the weight? Dakar traveler's hand luggage had the right dimensions and he knew about the dimensions so there was *certainty* that he wouldn't be held up for that. The problem was that it was overweight, something he *believed* to be within limits but found out at the airport that he believed wrongly.

and "historical evidence" is as pointless for weight as it is for dimensions as here again airlines vary a lot in terms of what they authorise.
"Historical evidence" was in reference to the outbound flight on the same airline and the same route where that same piece of hand luggage with (according to the tale) the same content and hence the same weight. Not that this gives him the right to take the same piece of hand luggage on this flight as well, but for an ex-ante assessment of probability of having an issue this is can be an additional indicator that all is well (if not contradicted by other indicators).

The solution is simple, as in all walks in life: if you are unsure, better safe than sorry.
*If* you are unsure. He wasn't. And I can understand why. Didn't have a scale and mis-estimated the weight. (That does not *excuse* him and give him the right to take the luggage on this flight, and nobody said that he should be allowed to. But that is another point)

I really cannot think that thinking "I might be above or below the limit" is a good excuse at all.
Agreed. See previous paragraph. But he wasn't trying to use that as an excuse, so it doesn't matter.

Frankly, to be honest, as someone who often has hand luggage that weights around 12-13kg, and sometimes around 18-19kg, I can promise you that it feels very different. I am quite young, reasonably sportsy and fit (sorry, sounds very arrogant!) and yet I consider 19kg to be fairly heavy hand luggage. For one think, I would never let my partner (she is even far more sports-oriented and fit than me!) put 19kg of hand luggage in the overhead by herself if I am travelling with her! My sense is that when you have 19kg of hand luggage, you have a pretty good idea that you do not have 12, and even if your perception of weights is strangely clouded you would at least know that there is enough of a risk that you should arrive early in case there is a problem.
But now we are discussing an individual that we don't know and his ability to estimate weight. Maybe you feel the difference, I probably would and many others would as well. But there may be just as many who don't and who without any bad intentions go to the airport fully convinced that their hand luggage is within the limits.

I don't blame people for their underdeveloped ability to estimate weight of their hand luggage.

I would only blame people if they argued "I didn't have a scale, I am estimated that it's only 11 kgs, so my conviction is more important than your actually weighing and therefore I should be allowed to take it on board". But that isn't the case here. Someone is ready to accept that the piece is overweight and that it needs to be checked-in.

Here again, I very much disagree. There are at least two benefits in doing whatever hand luggage checks at security rather than at the gate. The first one is that it makes boarding far more efficient if no bag has to be refused there at the gate.
But then they wouldn't confiscate hand luggage at the gate anymore at CDG 2, because it's all been filtered before. Yet they do, and actually lots of it.

I disagree with you that there is no time gain - many times have I sat on a plane and wasted some minutes because excess hand luggage had to be put in the hold.

Second, it is more expensive for airlines to have luggage checked at the gate rather than at the check in counter, because there again, you need people to handle the baggage, put it in the hold, etc. If you can do without those people, you save money, and there is really no reason why the airline (ie the other passengers) should swallow that additional cost when in practice, they can do without it for most flights. So here again, I very much see why airlines might prefer early checks to late ones.
Not really convinced I must say. Rampies are around till departure anyway because luggage gets loaded till shortly before pushback anyway (late connections, short turnaround time, etc). So not sure if one would save those people. But maybe yes, it would be interesting to see the data from an actual test.

but also on which flights need particular attention or, on the contrary, could escape too heavy a hand (First ask passengers which flights they are on: AF xx, yy, zz are very full today, so please check their hand luggage carefully if they are on that flight, AF aa, bb, cc are not busy so ensuring strict compliance may be less of a priority).
I've read arguments that check-in agents would need to be super-talented over-heros and go above and beyond anyone else in their profession just to make a phone call to the gate. What profiles would we need for hand luggage checkers to be able to process all that information? Or just combine it with the BP check at security where the scanning results in an info if it's a heavily booked flight or not? That all slows down security controls, you need more people, etc. So basically you shift the problem to somewhere else in the chain.

I am still of the same opinion as before. Does the weight rule make sense to me? Not really, but if it is there, it is there and I understand that it may be applied to me as to everyone else.
Sure. That was never the debate anyway, we all have that point of view I think.

Do I think it should be enforced strictly? No, but to me pragmatic application should mostly be about how likely it is that hand luggage will prove problematic on a given flight (some destinations typically attract more hand luggage than others, and some are more full than others).

If one accepts that the rule is here and that the flight is not particularly empty, then I don't think it is wrong of the airline to apply the check early, I do not think that the passenger has a right to "choose" how it will be applied (again, to go back to my example of weight checks being most frequent at check in counters, you certainly would not expect the check in agent to allow you to take your ineligible bag to the gate even if it is now too late to accept bags for check in).
Again, you make it sound as if I was advocating a system or setup that always gives passengers a choice when and where to check in their luggage. Of course I am not. All I was saying that there would have been an easy solution in this specific instance, one that does not occur very often.

So all in all, the OP has made some serious accusations that will be (or have been) investigated. If they are not founded, then I really do not think that AF's handling just because it has checked the weight of her overweight bag, and just because the airline did not wait till the last minute to make that check, could be faulted.
I think the accusations were primarily about the theft of the belongings. No comment from me on that one and no criticism of whomever.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 1:55 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
This seems to have taken a notion of "there is a service called gate check-in" which I would favour. Not my point at all. My point is that in any case today airlines do confiscate hand luggage that is too heavy or too large or doesn't fit on board any more at the gate. That isn't a service that they offer to passengers, that is a remedy that airlines apply. And they didn't do away with that even at those airports where a first check happens at security (such as CDG 2). All I am saying is that since the remedy of confiscating at the gate is applied anyway, apply it.
But I think that the whole point is that, at the hub, they hope to do away with it! Again, I was not commenting on an individual case here but on the logic of making early checks. I think that if those are done and done effectively, then the airline will actually be able to get rid of gate confiscation!


Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
The *weighing* of hand luggage is rare indeed. But not only at the gate. In fact it is rare altogether.
I do not agree with this statement. When you stop at the check in counter and fly an airline which has some strict weight restrictions, and especially if you do not fly premium class and/or do not have elite status on the airline/alliance, it is actually fairly common. In fact, to reuse the example I mentioned earlier of EK, it has now occurred to me that they have checked the weight of my hand luggage in a majority of the times when I have flown Y with them and had to stop at their counter (which happens quite a bit because for some reason their OLCI system doesn't seem to often like me!). I also see AZ, LH, or AF check in agents weight people's hand luggage at the check in counter very often, but again, they rarely target premium/elite pax.

And indeed, so far, while those checks have actually been frequent, they have mostly been limited to check in counters. The point is: there is no reason why they should be. In other words, security controls instead create a more level playing field between all passengers. I do not like them because I do not want people to check the weight of my hand luggage, but I find it fairer (more equitable and more efficient if you prefer) than virtually any alternative.


Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
The number of gate agents is certainly not driven by the need to check passenger's hand luggage. They'll keep the same number of agents and just process people faster through the gate (which has no benefit at all because the plane won't leave earlier and they won't close the gate earlier in almost all cases).

On the same token, we can't have posts all the time how customer-unfriendly and ununderstanding Air France is and then argue that it is better for them to force a paying customer to throw away some personal belongings than make a simple phone call, which is what this one is about!
I disagree on your first point. Checking bags, tagging them, etc takes time, and time is persons/month in HR count. One thing they don't do = less need for personnel. There are already plenty of airlines where a single person handles a boarding gate for a short/medium haul flight (usually 2-3 for AF). If you delete tasks and limit gate agent tasks to effectively enforcing boarding procedures and check BPs (or BPs and passports where applicable), you will end up needing fewer people for that job. Of course, there will be resistance and unions protests but if management holds firm, they can effectively cut numbers on the simple basis of not needing someone to deal with tagging non-accepted hand luggage which necessarily means an agent stops controlling said BPs.

Faster boarding is also a desireable target for a number of reasons: any European airlines would give loads to be able to take 5 minutes off turnaround times at airport because it means very significant savings on a loss making part of their activity.

I do not agree with the interpretation you make of your second point. The only thing that forced the Dakar lady to lose some of her items was her showing up with luggage that was not eligible as hand luggage after the cut off check in time (thanks for correcting me that it is 90 minutes for Africa). Again, if in doubt - and there really is no good reason not to have had at least doubt - then she should have gone to the airport earlier than that.

Finally, I do not agree that applying well-published rules per se is customer unfriendly. One can always hope for occasional exceptions but certainly not claim that the fact that such an exception be refused would be customer unfriendliness. Otherwise, we might as well reject the whole of Japan as the most customer unfriendly place in the world and I do not think that it is.



Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
i) Not sure they do, but for the sake of argument let's assume they do.
ii) How do dimensions help to estimate the weight?
That was not my point. My point was that guessing whether one's luggage meets an airline's weight conditions is not any different from guessing one's luggage meets an airline's dimension conditions, especially now that they vary so widely from airline to airline. In other words, I was disagreeing with your point that weight is "special" compared to other hand luggage conditions.

Indeed, only the number of pieces is apparently easier to guess, and even that is not so obvious because some airline count duty free bags as items other do not, in fact, even some airports (like MAN) have standard rules that a duty free shopping bag must be accepted by all airlines in addition to hand luggage allowance. Conversely, rules vary by airlines and airports on small item additional to the authorised hand luggage. If it is the airline, of course you could check, but if it is the airport... For instance, till about two years ago, LGW disallowed second items. So if you flew BA or EK from LHR you could take a small item in addition to your main piece of hand luggage, if you flew BA or EK from LGW you could not. And by the way, that too was checked at security, and if you could not fit the small bag in your large one, you would have to go back to the check in counter to check it in (or lose it if you had missed luggage checking time).

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
"Historical evidence" was in reference to the outbound flight on the same airline and the same route where that same piece of hand luggage with (according to the tale) the same content and hence the same weight.
Well, you know my professional background And I would disagree that a single experience even assuming exact same contents (which I'm not sure I would accept prima facie anyway) would constitute any form of evidence, historical or otherwise. 20 times, yes; once, no.


Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
*If* you are unsure. He wasn't. And I can understand why. Didn't have a scale and mis-estimated the weight.
Sorry, if she was wrong and was "sure" she was right, that does not work as an excuse. And I don't think that your explanation is nearly as likely as the fact that weight was not controlled outbound and she did not think it would be an issue on the return (rather than "thought" her 19kgs were less than 12, which I simply refuse to believe).

Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
As well as to those who do not intend to cheat. In fact it was NickB who said that it was less passenger friendly, I just built on his argument.
Well, NickB is another person with whom I agree the vast majority of the time but with whom I can have the odd disagreement! I actually happen to largely share his view on the Dakar incident, but equally maintain my point that in my view, checking bags at the gate instead of earlier on may benefit people who happen to not be within their allowance but certainly does not advantage those who are, and in fact, potentially disadvantages them by increasing the risk of a messy or slow boarding process or late departure. Again, I have experienced this multiple times on BA since the HBO fares have been launched and part of me thinks that if non-compliant bags were identified earlier on, boarding and departure of the occasional "problem flight" would be smoother and applauded by most compliant passengers. I have certainly seen their annoyed faces and heard their swearing against the passengers who had more than they were entitled to.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 3:21 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
...
Just deleted my quote-by-quote defense because I realized how it is getting us away from the one single point that I wanted to make and that all other points were made in defense.

I am not blaming anyone in particular for that "scope creep" and certainly I am just as guilty as I did introduce some of these points myslef to defend my initial point (maybe I just shouldn't have felt compelled to defend my original point).

So let me try something else:

Forget everything I wrote. My only comment is this one: There was a passenger whom I recognize did not comply with hand baggage weight rules. There can be no reason to bend the rules for him, but there was actually a great opportunity for an Air France agent to find a simple and effortless way for that pax to check-in that piece of hand luggage. However he/she/they chose not to, which led to the passenger having to throw away personal belongings, which I find quite radical given that there was another much more consructive option at hand. So I do criticize Air France for not having opted for the positive solution to help out that passenger.

I do understand and accept that some people feel that this would be too much to ask for from the agent. I haven't heard any compelling arguments yet why making that one phone call would have been so difficult, but I respect their opinion and I agree to disagreeing on that point.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 4:12 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
Forget everything I wrote. My only comment is this one: There was a passenger whom I recognize did not comply with hand baggage weight rules. There can be no reason to bend the rules for him, but there was actually a great opportunity for an Air France agent to find a simple and effortless way for that pax to check-in that piece of hand luggage. However he/she/they chose not to, which led to the passenger having to throw away personal belongings, which I find quite radical given that there was another much more consructive option at hand. So I do criticize Air France for not having opted for the positive solution to help out that passenger.
I am much happier with that formulation which focuses on a specific agent's action (rather than the principle of the control, where it takes place, etc), and indeed, IF the story is exactly as the young lady says (at the risk of sounding gender-prejudiced, I still think that mini-dress probably means a lady ) which is perfectly possible, then it would be a case of one of those agents who are rather rigid and seems to lack empathy and pragmatism. I also do think that once an agent have chosen to play hard balls albeit applying actual rules, it becomes very hard for other colleagues to overrule her.

With that in mind, I'll also admit that at this stage, I am also taking the story with a pinch of salt: in my experience, people who talk of racism and theft in what ultimately seems like a fairly boring story of disagreement between agent and passenger, take photographs of agents (which I personally find a really aggressive attitude), etc are not always as calm and measured in real like as they like to paint in subsequent recollections. When it comes to trying to get an amicable resolution (rather than assert one's righteousness), very little can make a difference between an attitude that will attract sympathy and one that will prompt rigidity. I would venture the guess that none of us could possibly or will ever know whether this is a story of a rather rigid agent who could have spared a passenger a fairly hefty penalty for an overweight handbag, or a righteous passenger who might have come across as arrogant when she was clearly technically in the wrong, however, I do think that this is really what it is about (a question of agent/passenger personalities).

To move away from the merits of a specific case which I think we know very little about anyway, and to go back instead to the heart of this thread, I think that there is an important message for all of us who, I believe, primarily use FT to learn more about airlines and the way their processes evolve and develop. That important point is that clearly, AF has decided to enforce its hand luggage rules at CDG far more strictly than it used to. This applies to both O/D and transfer passengers, and while it seems to primarily target non-premium/priority passengers, there is no guarantee that such priority pax will be spared.

The controls take place at security, and involve all aspects of the hand luggage rules: number of pieces, size, and weight, and passengers are effectively asked to check their hand luggage if it does not fit the official criteria. We now have enough confirmed stories about this new practice to take it seriously. We should all take this situation into account and hedge our risks accordingly, either ensuring that we respect the rules (or, if unsure, take a margin of precaution), or if we choose to "chance it", ensuring that we arrive at the airport early enough so that if we are picked, checked, and found out, we have time to go to the counter and have the bag checked as this is what the agents will almost certainly ask us to do. Buyer beware...

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Old Oct 30, 15, 4:24 pm
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Originally Posted by orbitmic View Post
....
+1 on the Dakar tale and

+1 on the Air France/CDG point.

And I guess I am one of those who is blissfully ignorant about the weight of hand luggage. I take one and the same bag with me since many years, and the only content that has changed was iPhones getting larger and iPad getting lighter, one or two more cables and a lighter PC. Never had an issue, but I never assumed that this means that it's within the limits. I was just never controlled. I might put it on a bathroom scale this weekend, just in case. The prospect of having to check luggage and to wait for delivery at the belt fills me with horror. It would require arriving at airports on average 20 minutes earlier than what I do now and adding 25 minutes for delivery (sometimes more, sometimes less). That's 45 minutes more per flight. If I multiply that with the number of flights I do I'd end up adding 187 hours to my trips, that's almost eight full days of the year just checking and waiting for luggage that until now I've taken on board. I know I'll have to, I generally abide by rules, but I certainly don't like it.
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Old Oct 30, 15, 4:35 pm
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Originally Posted by San Gottardo View Post
And I guess I am one of those who is blissfully ignorant about the weight of hand luggage. I take one and the same bag with me since many years, and the only content that has changed was iPhones getting larger and iPad getting lighter, one or two more cables and a lighter PC. Never had an issue, but I never assumed that this means that it's within the limits. I was just never controlled.
I don't think you need to worry too much, because ultimately, not everyone is equal in this world. You mostly travel premium (and often very premium) and have very high status with pretty much all of the airlines that you fly. In that sense, I think that you are among the group that they are least likely to annoy with a control and/or strict enforcement. Frankly, an agent who would tell you that you'll need to throw your stuff if you have a Platinum card and travel F would likely get a deserved bullocking from their supervisor, rule or no rule! I'm sure that if you fulfilled your lifelong dream of flying FR ( ) you would be quite careful about your hand luggage before going to the airport because you'd know that you would be a nobody to them and it would significantly increase your chances of being "checked".

In my case, I know my risks vary. If I fly BA J or F, between my class of travel and my GGL card, I know that it would be extremely unlikely that BA agents would pick on me. By contrast, when travelling EK in Y, I know I am fair game (in fact, I had explicitly told my partner I would prefer not to go to the counter but as mentioned, the OLCI system gave us trouble and she wanted to see if we could change our seats. At the risk of sounding predictable, I had a bad feeling about that from the start!)

To give another example close to your heart, I have recently heard of multiple examples of people whose hand luggage has been checked, measured, and/or refused as hand luggage on LX flights to/from GVA. I have no doubt that with your HON card and a J BP you would be unlikely to be bothered, but a Y passenger without status had better be careful. This really is all a question of risk assessment. It is a mix of airline policy, individual circumstances, and ultimately luck. The balance has now become slightly less favourable to those with a liberal perception of their hand luggage allowance flying AF although in my estimate, particularly so if they travel in Y and have little or no status.
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