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Forced to check roller carry-on with lots of bin space open

Forced to check roller carry-on with lots of bin space open

Old Oct 27, 16, 8:56 pm
  #1  
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Forced to check roller carry-on with lots of bin space open

Had a bad night EWR tonight. I arrived at the gate at around 8:25 for an 8:55 flight. Plane is a 737-9 with a boarding time of 8:10. (I was only "late" for boarding because EWR closed all Pre-Check AND Premier security lanes at 7:30, but that's another issue.)

As I walk up to the gate, I see they are on Boarding Group 4 or 5 and are requiring that all rolling bags be checked. Presuming bins are full, I let them check in mine. When I get onto the plane after leaving my bag on the jetway, I immediately see many empty bins! I quickly rush back to the jetway, grab my bag, and head back out to the gate agents. I politely asked them to offload my bag so I could carry it on. They refuse. They say it is the last minute, and I point out that it is still 25 minutes until departure. Still no go. I tell them I know they can do it. gate agent says he won't. When I get back onto the plane, I let a flight attendant know what happened. She goes out to discuss with the gate agent who refuses to come give me an explanation. Many people seated around me, presumably elites in the exit rows, also had this happened. Now I get to wait 30-60 minutes at BOS waiting for my bag late at night while the plane took off with many open bins.

Questions:
Is this a new thing for UA to start boarding this early? Almost fully boarded 30 minutes before takeoff!
What's up with forcing checking in roller bags when there was so much bin space left?
Was it reasonable for me to expect that they could offload my bag when I came back out?

I definitely plan to complain about this when I get the "feedback" email (that I usually just delete). Flight attendants were great and very sympathetic.

<Still steamed at 30,000 feet>
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Old Oct 27, 16, 8:59 pm
  #2  
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
Is this a new thing for UA to start boarding this early?
What's up with checking in roller bags when there was so much bin space left?
Was it reasonable for me to expect that they could offload my bag?
  1. I don't see any evidence that they started early. Getting a plane mostly boarded in 20 minutes is pretty standard.
  2. Gate agents make assumptions. 90% of the time, the bins are full by the time group 4 rolls around.
  3. No (in my opinion).
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:03 pm
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Originally Posted by mahasamatman View Post
  1. I don't see any evidence that they started early.
I have no idea what time they started boarding, but when I see a 739 almost fully boarded 30+ minutes before takeoff, it seems very likely they started early. Unless they made everyone beyond Group 2 check in their bags to make boarding so fast :roll eyes:

Also, just to clarify, I didn't need them to physically off-load my carry-on. I had it with me. I wanted them to off-load it from the system so I could bring it onboard and put it in one of the empty bins
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:06 pm
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
...Many people seated around me, presumably elites in the exit rows...
Premiers board in first two groups. Sincerely doubt they had to gate check their bags. Non-elites can purchase exit row seating or others can be placed there if regular economy is full.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:13 pm
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Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
Premiers board in first two groups. Sincerely doubt they had to gate check their bags. Non-elites can purchase exit row seating or others can be placed there if regular economy is full.
Good point. I will ask them when we are getting off.

A night like tonight reminds me and makes me thankful for the convenience I (usually) get from Pre-Check and even a lowly Gold status. Can't be too fun flying as a normal, non-status person these days.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:19 pm
  #6  
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
I have no idea what time they started boarding, but when I see a 739 almost fully boarded 30+ minutes before takeoff, it seems very likely they started early.
Your 30+ contradicts your OP where you weren't even at the gate by then.

Doors close at T-10. Most airlines can get a 737 full loaded in under 20 minutes, so if they started on time, it makes perfect sense that they were mostly boarded before you arrived.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:25 pm
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Departure time 8:55. I arrived at gate 8:25. 30 minutes.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:26 pm
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Oh well. Got here safely. Time to learn how "fast" BOS bag handling is.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:29 pm
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
.... Was it reasonable for me to expect that they could offload my bag when I came back out? ....
Originally Posted by jonu View Post
... Also, just to clarify, I didn't need them to physically off-load my carry-on. I had it with me. I wanted them to off-load it from the system so I could bring it onboard and put it in one of the empty bins
If you had the bag, why did you bother with the offloading? Just board with the bag.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:29 pm
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I'm confused. why did you need the Gate agents to do anything? if you had your roller bag in hand, why didn't you just put it in a bin?
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:35 pm
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Originally Posted by iflyuaaa View Post
I'm confused. why did you need the Gate agents to do anything? if you had your roller bag in hand, why didn't you just put it in a bin?
Because they had officially checked it and told me I wasn't allowed to bring it on. Yes, I could have just ripped off the tag and boarded, but I was explicitly told by GA, FA, and ramp agent I couldn't. FA later told me they get in big trouble if someone brings on a bag that was checked.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 9:41 pm
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
Because they had officially checked it and told me I wasn't allowed to bring it on. Yes, I could have just ripped off the tag and boarded, but I was explicitly told by GA, FA, and ramp agent I couldn't. FA later told me they get in big trouble if someone brings on a bag that was checked.
Can someone please clarify? I thought bags weren't tagged as 'checked' until someone scanned it with a scanner and that input it into UA. At gate checked bags, this happens when the bag goes down the metal chute to the plane, right?

So why/how would United even know that the bag is a 'checked bag brought on board'?

FYI: I've boarded last due to going on standby for an earlier flight EWR to BOS, the gate agents have printed me a checked bag in case I needed to give it up at the gate. However, there was space in FC so I just put it in the bin and ripped off the tag. Flight attendants saw me do that and the gate agent said she printed it 'just in case'.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 10:08 pm
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Originally Posted by jonu View Post
Because they had officially checked it and told me I wasn't allowed to bring it on. Yes, I could have just ripped off the tag and boarded, but I was explicitly told by GA, FA, and ramp agent I couldn't. FA later told me they get in big trouble if someone brings on a bag that was checked.
how many times have you asked to be added to the standby list only to be told "we can't add you, the flight is oversold" - but we know that's not true and when you walk to the gate next door to add you to the standby list, you pop to #1 and clear

how many times do they tell you if your phone isn't in airplane mode bad things will happen.

how many times do they tell you "fill in the blank."

follow the path of least resistance. i see it happen many times the GA insists on checking the bag because the bins are full, and the people walk down the jetbridge, rip off the tag and put the bag in the bin. i've only seen one case where the GA followed a person they tagged to ensure they didn't take it on the plane.

on UX, they almost always valet tag my roller backpack. it fits perfectly under the seat. it's much easier to let them tag it, and remove the tag and walk on with the bag. arguing w a gate agent rarely gets the desired outcome (as your case is evidence of)
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Old Oct 27, 16, 10:10 pm
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Originally Posted by iflyuaaa View Post
how many times have you asked to be added to the standby list only to be told "we can't add you, the flight is oversold" - but we know that's not true and when you walk to the gate next door to add you to the standby list, you pop to #1 and clear

how many times do they tell you if your phone isn't in airplane mode bad things will happen.

how many times do they tell you "fill in the blank."

follow the path of least resistance. i see it happen many times the GA insists on checking the bag because the bins are full, and the people walk down the jetbridge, rip off the tag and put the bag in the bin. i've only seen one case where the GA followed a person they tagged to ensure they didn't take it on the plane.

on UX, they almost always valet tag my roller backpack. it fits perfectly under the seat. it's much easier to let them tag it, and remove the tag and walk on with the bag. arguing w a gate agent rarely gets the desired outcome (as your case is evidence of)
Good advice. Will do that next time. Interesting how even FA made that sound totally taboo.
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Old Oct 27, 16, 10:12 pm
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I find that those tags they put on the bags at EWR tend to fall off quite often as you walk down the jetway.
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