by Nancy Bestor
I’m constantly amazed at the sizes and quantities of carry-on bags making their way onto planes these days. Yes, there are rules related to both the maximum size of a carry-on and the number of carry-ons one passenger can take aboard. But rules are only good if they are enforced. Some gate agents seem to be enforcing these rules, and others don’t seem to care at all. While most people seem to follow carry-on regulations, I regularly see plenty of people with overstuffed and over-sized suitcases—that definitely would not fit into the carry-on sizing box at the gate—trying with all their might to shove them into the overhead bin.
Being a rule follower (and try as I might, I can’t seem to be anything but a rule follower) I always use a legal carry-on bag, the Briggs & Riley 21” International Wide Body Carry-On, which always fits in the sizing box at the gate, and in the overhead bin. But my husband, ever the rebel, often carries his guitar on board (in a soft sided case), in addition to a backpack that is about the maximum carry-on size. Not only has no gate agent ever batted an eye about him carrying his blatantly too large guitar on board, but flight attendants often ask him if he’d like them to store the guitar in a special closet on board, where it will be safer from damage. (He says that’s what happens when you are young and handsome. I roll my eyes.)
I’m not really complaining, mind you. I carry a regulation size suitcase because I don’t need any extra stress in my life. And if I was trying to carry-on a bag that was against the rules, you can bet I would be sweating bullets.
Here’s another carry-on issue that perplexes me. In the last year or so, before every flight I’ve taken, the gate agents have asked if there are passengers willing to check their carry-on bag at the gate. They always say “the flight is going to be very full,” and “there will not be room for all the carry-ons in the overhead bins.” I’m starting to wonder if this isn’t a bit of a scam. Perhaps airlines are instructing their gate agents to make this announcement because we all know that if fewer people take on carry-on bags, the plane is bound to board faster, and thus is more likely to take off on time. And as many times as I have heard that there will not be room, I have never once not been able to find a spot for my bag, even when boarding in group three or four. It does make me wonder.