So, Let’s consider: Ever wonder how the restrictions on suitcases was determined?

So, Let’s consider: Ever wonder how the restrictions on suitcases was determined?

“I’m sorry sir, but your suitcase is over weight”.

Ever get told that when you’re flying? Well, I did a couple weeks ago while on a trip from SLC. I wasn’t the happiest flyer either as it was a rather expensive event!

Come to find out, airlines really like to limit the amount of stuff you can take with you before they start adding fee$ to your flying experience. Further, if you’re going to be on a trip for a week or so, chances are that you’re going to be needing more than 45 pounds of stuff and most likely more than one suitcase. This is especially trying if you’re planning on doing anything more than just spending money at your vacation venues. In my case, I collect insects so I threw in a few kiling jars, etc., along with my cloths, etc. Not the whole lab, but enough to snag a few specimens for my collections, should I run into anything of interest. And all in one suitcase.

So, how did they come to the weight, size and quantity limitations that they did you ask? Good question! Inquiring minds would like to know.

Well, let’s think about this for a moment, or two…. Flyers are to a large extent constrained by the whims of the airlines and they can dictate basically anything that they want to. And, it’s in their best interests to milk out all the fee$ they can get out of your wallet that they can! But, they want to appear to be the nice guys in this equation. Now, I have no insider knowledge on how the real events happened, but I have a theory.

Consider that the airlines can easily, and probably do, determine the average size, weight and quantity of checked items passengers take with them. It’s simple data analytics. So, it would be really easy to determine the average weight of a suitcase. Let’s say for discussion sake that it is 53 pounds. I think this is a fairly reasonable and probably low number, but let’s use it.

Now, from an airline’s perspective, they want to limit the amount of weight and number of suitcases you bring. So, let’s presume that the average flyer takes 1.8 suitcases at about 53 pounds each. Now, with this information, Mr. Airline realizes that there’s a revenue opportunity here. How can they either reduce their baggage concerns or make you PAY more fee$, which would equate to more revenue for them? AH! BAGGAGE FEE$! So, let’s limit the checked items to one and set a weight that might be just under the average…say maybe 45 pounds. OH, you can carry on a bag, provided it’s the size of a toaster(more on that later). And, if they need any inforcement weight, well, they’ll just lobby the FAA and other federal agencies to approve their policies and bingo, the fee$ are basically law. OH, this is above and beyond the prices of your ticket and in some cases your “seat fee$”.

In short in our hypothetical example, if your suitcase if 47 pounds, you’re OVER WEIGHT and it’s time to pay them more fee$. And we’re not talking chicken feed here! You get the idea? If you feel like you’re being ripped off with the high price$ and all the additional fee$, you’re not alone. But don’t waste your time writing your congressman, they probably couldn’t care less.

Then there’s that “carry on item”. It’s really annoying to have two airports tell you your carry on is within size limits, only to have a midpoint airport challenge them. Presume you’re traveling from Chattanooga(CHA) to Salt Lake City (SLC) via Dallas Ft.Worth (DFW). You’re given a document by your airline with the allowed dimensions of your allowed carry on. You measure it to make sure you’re basically in compliance. Airport one lets you on no problems, but the midpoint airport thinks it’s to big and they point to a box the size of a toaster that it’s supposed to fit into. Since you made the major mistake of not bringing your notation from the airlines with the size limits nor did you bring a simple ruler, you’re totally constrained to the whims of the all knowing gate agent that’s been flying for 40 years and knows that God comes to her when He has questions. So, you have no choice but to capitulate, pay the baggage fee$ and check in your carry on at the gate. To make matters worse, when you’re returning from SLC to DFW, SLC verifies that you’re in compliance. But, you can kiss that $40 in baggage fee you paid to God’s tutor in DFW goodbye…

You’re also going to find that, contrary to the assured knowledge of my least favorite DFW gate agent, there’s all kinds of space and room up above the seats in those bins! And chances are she has no clue what kind of a bird you’re flying in anyway, but she’s hell bent for leather that there’s not going to be any space up there for your item or anyone else’s. I think it’s all about the fee$.

So, what’s a flyer to do beyond thinking they need to put their head between their legs and kiss their ass goodbye? I’d recommend that you review the carry on size documentation, usually provided with your ticket. Print a copy and put it some place readily available in your carry on. Measure your carry on to make sure you’re in compliance and if you’re at the limits, pack a small ruler in that same carry on bag. It will come in handy if you run into someone like my least favorite DFW gate agent. And, put all your heavy stuff in the carry on! They don’t weigh it! And if you can schlep it, they won’t care. It’s amusing to see them suggest people repack their suitcases to shift the weight around in them to get under their weight compliance…uh, all items are going on the SAME PLANE. So, is the net weight really the concern or is it the fee$?

Now, some legaleze: The numbers and suppositions I’ve postulate here are my own random fictional hypotheticals. However, the DFW gate agent was very real. But at the end of the day, could it all really be this $imple?

I’m Don Rima and that’s the view From Where I Stand.

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