Carry-On Baggage Policy - Lack of Common Sense

Old May 5, 2005, 9:44 pm
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Unhappy Carry-On Baggage Policy - Lack of Common Sense

I had a somewhat confusing experience tonight taking a flight from CHO-PHL.

I'm hoping that some experienced US travelers will be able to weigh in on this.

The plane is a Dash-8, which of course means leaving your "carry-on" baggage planeside to go in the cargo hold. I've always taken the view that by doing this, it's for all intents and purposes the same as checking it. Either way, it goes in the cargo hold. In the past, it seems most GA's have taken the same view, because on a number of occasions I've taken more than 1 "carry-on" down to the tarmac and left them planeside. Never been questioned about it. I just put the yellow bag tags on my two bags. I feel that this is completely reasonable - I'm not trying to take more in the cabin than allowed. As I said, it goes in the cargo hold either way.

Well, tonight, the GA in CHO sees me with the two bags and says "Which of those would you like me to check to your final destination sir?" I FELT like saying, "Actually, neither." But I was more diplomatic. I explained that I was leaving both planeside, that PHL was my final destination, and that I wasn't "carrying on." She proceeded to give me some ridiculous excuse about US possibly getting fined $11,000 by the FAA if they let someone on with more than one carry-on. I got nowhere trying to explain that I wasn't "carrying on." That it goes in the cargo hold either way, so who cares if I pick it up next to the plane or at bag claim. God forbid she used any common sense. She was insistent that it had to be checked, and given that she was controlling whether I got home tonight, I didn't press it any further.

So, what's the deal here? Does US tell their employees not to use common sense. It goes in the f------ cargo hold whether it's officially "checked" or not. I seriously doubt that the FAA gives a s--- about whether it's delivered to bag claim or delivered planeside. And, if that was the rule, why didn't TSA call me on it?

They can't run the freakin airline, but they've got time to waste on nonsense like this. No wonder they are in the shape they are in...

Has anyone had any similar experiences? What is the policy? And why has it never been a problem before?

Any input would be much appreciated!
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Old May 5, 2005, 10:21 pm
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The same thing happened to me about a year ago. I was flying on a regional jet from CAE(Columbia, SC) - DCA. The GA told me I had to check my bag. I said I didn't want to. Then he said the only reason I was carrying on was because I got to the airport late. Yeah I got there 30 mins in advance....but its Columbia, there are no lines. I wasnt planning on checking it anyways. At this point he told me if I attempted to board I would be fined $11,000. I told him that was bull**** and it had never been a problem in the past. I told him my final destination was DCA and I would be putting the bags in the cargo hold. After arguing for awhile he said I could pay $100 per bag to carry on. Then he changed it to $20 per bag. I said fine and pulled out a credit card. After I did that he just said whatever and let me board. Amazing how it can go from an $11,000 fine to $100 per bag then down to $20 per bag and then free. (That GA suddenly stopped working a month after that happened) I havent been hassled since. I am Silver and do 80% of my flying on Regional Jets.

Last edited by uva185; May 5, 2005 at 10:25 pm
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Old May 5, 2005, 11:01 pm
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If you only had 2 bags total, you could count one of them as a personal item and you shouldn't have been given a problem. If you had 2 bags and say a briefcase, and were planning on gate checking 2 and carrying on the briefcase, then you are over the allowance. However what the TSA is looking at is how many bags you are taking through security. It doesn't matter to them if you are plane side checking or not, you are taking that bag through security and are allowed 1 carry on and 1 personal item.

Why does the TSA not call you out? They feel that is the airlines job. We actually were told that the TSA felt USAirways was doing a poor job policing the carryons at our station. The TSA should be at ID Check doing that, then perhaps it would become more consistent instead of ITS or an airline agent.

Personally unless they are carrying 3 huge bags, I keep mum because I'm the bad non-revver that has a backpack, pull-behind and a small purse I just can't fit in a bag. It really is a tiny purse. However after traveling on intra-Europe flights, I must say I am thankful the carriers in the US have yet to adopt their weight and carry on guidelines. They are something we definitely aren't and that is consistent.
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Old May 6, 2005, 12:02 am
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Originally Posted by LPCJr
I had a somewhat confusing experience tonight taking a flight from CHO-PHL.

I'm hoping that some experienced US travelers will be able to weigh in on this.

The plane is a Dash-8, which of course means leaving your "carry-on" baggage planeside to go in the cargo hold. I've always taken the view that by doing this, it's for all intents and purposes the same as checking it. Either way, it goes in the cargo hold. In the past, it seems most GA's have taken the same view, because on a number of occasions I've taken more than 1 "carry-on" down to the tarmac and left them planeside. Never been questioned about it. I just put the yellow bag tags on my two bags. I feel that this is completely reasonable - I'm not trying to take more in the cabin than allowed. As I said, it goes in the cargo hold either way.

Well, tonight, the GA in CHO sees me with the two bags and says "Which of those would you like me to check to your final destination sir?" I FELT like saying, "Actually, neither." But I was more diplomatic. I explained that I was leaving both planeside, that PHL was my final destination, and that I wasn't "carrying on." She proceeded to give me some ridiculous excuse about US possibly getting fined $11,000 by the FAA if they let someone on with more than one carry-on. I got nowhere trying to explain that I wasn't "carrying on." That it goes in the cargo hold either way, so who cares if I pick it up next to the plane or at bag claim. God forbid she used any common sense. She was insistent that it had to be checked, and given that she was controlling whether I got home tonight, I didn't press it any further.

So, what's the deal here? Does US tell their employees not to use common sense. It goes in the f------ cargo hold whether it's officially "checked" or not. I seriously doubt that the FAA gives a s--- about whether it's delivered to bag claim or delivered planeside. And, if that was the rule, why didn't TSA call me on it?

They can't run the freakin airline, but they've got time to waste on nonsense like this. No wonder they are in the shape they are in...

Has anyone had any similar experiences? What is the policy? And why has it never been a problem before?

Any input would be much appreciated!
About 8 months ago, I was forunate enough to fly from RDU to ISP through a certain southeastern PA connection point. On the way back, I was told by the FA that I wouldn't be able to bring on my carryon, as there was no room, blahblahblah. Long story short, she didn't tag it, and they put it through to baggage claim in PHL. Through a miracle, a short line at security (???), and my limited sprinting abilities, I made my connecting flight...by about 20 seconds.

Possible best part: my bag is on top of the cart, about to be whisked away to baggage claim. I ask the baggage person if he could just give it to me; apparently, this would lead to a $14.5 MM fine from the FAA. (Don't flame me that this would wipe out whatever equity SH have left in US, I know)... I point to the FA in the door, she shrugs her shoulders, guy hops on cart and takes off. Thanks, US.
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Old May 6, 2005, 6:53 am
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Originally Posted by evprincess
If you only had 2 bags total, you could count one of them as a personal item and you shouldn't have been given a problem. If you had 2 bags and say a briefcase, and were planning on gate checking 2 and carrying on the briefcase, then you are over the allowance.
This statement misses the entire point of my original argument. Yes, I had 2 bags and a briefcase, and yes, that does exceed the "carry on" allowance. But, if I am leaving the bags planeside, I fail to see how in the end that is any different than checking one of the bags. Either way, a baggage handler puts it in the cargo hold. It does not take up any additional space in the cabin. If I tried to take 2 bags on a regular plane, into the cabin, that would be a completely different story. All this does is save me the inconvenience of having to go to bag claim, and the possibility that US will lose my bag, something which they have done in the past. If they could get their act together and get my bag to my final destination, I wouldn't be so paranoid. But given that they have already screwed up in the past, I'm simply trying to avoid the possibility of them doing so again.

That said, I get the sense that evprincess is a US employee, and I'm hoping that he/she can provide a logical argument as to why I can't check 2 bags planeside. Forget the rules for a moment, and apply some common sense. This is something that the GA in CHO was either unwilling to do or incapable of doing.
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Old May 6, 2005, 7:16 am
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Originally Posted by LPCJr
In the past, it seems most GA's have taken the same view, because on a number of occasions I've taken more than 1 "carry-on" down to the tarmac and left them planeside. Never been questioned about it. I just put the yellow bag tags on my two bags. I feel that this is completely reasonable - I'm not trying to take more in the cabin than allowed. As I said, it goes in the cargo hold either way.

So, what's the deal here? Does US tell their employees not to use common sense.

They can't run the freakin airline, but they've got time to waste on nonsense like this. No wonder they are in the shape they are in...
With all due respect, it sounds like you were unnecessarily hassled but it also sounds like you're entirely over-reacting. Of the many self-admitted times you've brought two carry-ons for planeside checking, you've had no problem. And then this one time you run into someone who is lacking some customer service or is being a little too OCD on the regs and you're now asking "Does US tell their employees not to use common sense." and claiming that "they've got time to waste on nonsense like this."

Obviously US does not tell employees not to use common sense. Obviously. Furthermore, since another poster heard the $11,000 remark, it seems to me that this must be a real FAA violation with a real fine. So cut the GA some slack for doing what the government told him he should do. He was probably new and feared losing his job if there was some sort of fine against US for his "using his common sense".

No person and no airline is perfect. If you've had numerous positive and easy experiences taking two bags down for planeside checking, then cut the airline a break for this one guy in a rural outpost, who, by the way, is an employee of whatever USEx carrier ran your flight, and not US itself.
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Old May 6, 2005, 8:57 am
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Originally Posted by EnvoyBoy
With all due respect, it sounds like you were unnecessarily hassled but it also sounds like you're entirely over-reacting.
Perhaps a bit. But that is largely driven by prior experience. Since US already lost a bag on me once, I'm just trying to avoid giving them the opportunity to do so again, since it's not an experience I wish to repeat.

Originally Posted by EnvoyBoy
No person and no airline is perfect. If you've had numerous positive and easy experiences taking two bags down for planeside checking, then cut the airline a break for this one guy in a rural outpost, who, by the way, is an employee of whatever USEx carrier ran your flight, and not US itself.
In my mind, the fact that it's a US Exp flight doesn't really change anything. US hires the carrier, and puts the US name on the plane. They are also the ones setting overall policy. Ultimately, they are the responsible party here.
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Old May 6, 2005, 9:10 am
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Originally Posted by LPCJr
Perhaps a bit. But that is largely driven by prior experience. Since US already lost a bag on me once, I'm just trying to avoid giving them the opportunity to do so again, since it's not an experience I wish to repeat.
I completely agree! I'm so strategic with what I pack. "I didn't see him on Tuesday--I can get the shirt laundered at the hotel and then just wear the same tie, pants, etc. on Thursday." I haven't checked a bag in years--it's amazing what I can live on for clothes in a week. I've become quite good at ironing in hotels and what I've saved in lost-baggage hassle (I have no choice--I live in PHL), I've spent ten times over in hotel laundry service!
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Old May 6, 2005, 9:21 am
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Smile

The agent did correctly. The TSA allows 1 carry on bag plus 1 personal item such as a briefcase, purse. You cant use that second fullsize rolling 22 as a "briefcase". Hopefully the TSA will crack down with fines as what people try to carry on is getting out of hand.

There is a number of reasons, it causes you to take longer to get thru checkpoint security, which could cause someone to miss there flight.

Another reason is consistency, it would be impossible to figure out lets see you are flying mainline so only 1 bag, you are flying this plane 2 bags, well this regional allows only 1.

Third is is a rule and regulation, pretty cut and dry.

So I would suggest either plan on checking the bag or just carry 1 carry on and a personal item.

Last edited by NLINK; May 6, 2005 at 9:26 am
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Old May 6, 2005, 10:36 am
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Here is the policy, logical or not, as taken directly from the website: Passengers are limited to one piece of carry-on baggage plus one personal item beyond the security checkpoint (Medical assistance devices such as crutches, canes, wheelchairs or any other device upon which the passenger is dependent are exempt from this requirement.)

It's not a matter of common sense or checking two plane side and just taking one on the plane, it is a matter of what you are carrying through checkpoint. You are taking too many carry ons through. You would not receive the fine, but if TSA was auditing and saw you taking 3 bags to the airplane, USAirways could be fined the $11,000. A carry on bag left plane side because it's too large to fit is still considered a carry on piece of luggage.

Again it's a matter of consistency something we definitely lack. The agent was correct in having you check one of your 22's. The TSA sets these rules, we just don't follow them as we should.
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Old May 6, 2005, 1:02 pm
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It may be that it goes in the same cargo hold but the difference is with one you are getting it planeside bypassing the baggage carousel and the other you are required to go to the carousel. I am sure they have it separated somehow to be able to tell the difference.
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Old May 6, 2005, 1:04 pm
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Originally Posted by safetymom
It may be that it goes in the same cargo hold but the difference is with one you are getting it planeside bypassing the baggage carousel and the other you are required to go to the carousel. I am sure they have it separated somehow to be able to tell the difference.

I believe they are also counted differently in weight and balance. Average weight used for valet-checked bags is less than that of regular checked luggage.
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Old May 6, 2005, 3:09 pm
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I don't think that TSA cares at all how much luggage you bring on board. It's an FAA regulation, not TSA. The only people who have ever hassled me about bringing 3 bags through security are the contract ID checkers, employed by the airlines.

That said, at CHO it should be a moot point how many bags you bring on, as all scheduled flights from Charlottesville are on props or RJ's. Even if the rule is a security regulation, no way can one, let alone two, rollaboards or other large size bags fit in the overhead bins of any of these planes. I've never tried using the planeside "valet" service there for more than just one rollaboard as I always connect to a mainline jet at CLT and I never like to wait around at baggage claim.

Sounds to me like this gate agent is a new employee. Everyone I've encountered at CHO working for Express has been quite pleasant, unlike the agent in question.
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Old May 6, 2005, 3:27 pm
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It is a TSA regualtion that the airlines can only allow 1 carry on and 1 personal item thru checkpoint security. It was initally a FAA directive, then became a TSA after FAA got out of the security side of aviation.

So the employee isn't pleasant for enforcing a TSA regualtion that could result in a large fine for the air carrier and he enforcing a USairways rule?

Last edited by NLINK; May 6, 2005 at 3:33 pm Reason: Adding text
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Old May 6, 2005, 3:45 pm
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Thanks for clarifying.

Sure, the employee was following the rules, but to me this incident is akin to a police officer giving you a citation for driving 1 mile per hour over the speed limit. The rules are officially being broken in both cases, but you're not hurting anybody.

I can understand the carry-on regulation for mainline jets, but as I said, CHO doesn't have any mainline jets so all large bags are put in the same cargo hold. The difference is time: whether you get the bag planeside or at the baggage claim. The latter, especially at PHL, can cost you plenty of precious time waiting for your bag. As a gate agent for US Airways, I'd understand the PHL/time factor and if I were in the agent's place, I would have let it slide with no one the wiser.

It's a simple customer service issue - siding with the passenger makes him happy, which gives him a more favorable opinion of US Airways, which keeps him flying US Airways, which keeps the agent's job secure. Unless the passenger were an undercover TSA inspector there's no plausible way the airline would have been fined for something like this.
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