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Carry-on crackdown: United enforces bag size limit


luggage lined up at the baggage claim in an airport
NEW YORK (AP) -- United Airlines is getting tough on passengers with oversized carry-on bags.

The Chicago-based airline has installed new bag-sizers at most airports. It also emailed its frequent fliers, reminding them of its rules on carry-on size. United says there is no change in policy - just a campaign to improve passenger awareness.

Some of United's new sizers are located prior to security checkpoints. As of Saturday, employees contracted by the airline are sending passengers whose bag exceeds the dimensions for carry-ons back to the ticket counter, where they check the bag and pay a $25 fee. Airlines have traditionally asked people with oversized bags to check them at the gate, but waived the $25 fee at that point.

Some travelers are suggesting this is part of a larger attempt by United to collect more fees. The airline says it's simply trying to speed up the boarding process.

The size limits on carry-on bags have been in place for years, but airlines have been inconsistent in enforcing them. Passengers are allowed one carry-on bag to fit in the overhead bin that needs to be 9 inches by 14 inches by 22 inches or smaller. They can also bring along one personal item such as a purse or laptop bag that fits under the seat in front of them.

The process of getting on a plane dramatically changed in 2008 when U.S. airlines started charging $25 to check a suitcase. To avoid the fee, more passengers started bringing their suitcases - many of them overstuffed - into the airplane cabin. Suddenly there wasn't enough room in the overhead bins for everyone's bag.

Although more United passengers may end up paying a $25 fee, having fewer bags on board could also have its benefits.

"I've been whacked more times than I can count by people loaded down with their life's worldly possessions," says Brian Kelly, an industry watcher who writes about flying trends at ThePointsGuy.com.

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eddie March 04 2014 at 11:02 PM

CARRY ON BAGS SHOUD HAVE TO FIT IN A COMPARTMENT PRIOR TO SCREENING AND BE SENT BACK TO CHECKNIN IF NOT UNDER MAX ALLOWABLE SIZE... ONCE AGAIN PEOPLE WHO COMPLY WILL HAVE NO CONCERNS, THOSE WHO ABUSE AS A WAY OF LIFE WILL FELL THAY ARE BEING PICKED UPON... BUT EVERYONE ALSO FOLLOWS THE SPEED LIMIT, RIGHT???

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Jim March 04 2014 at 9:42 PM

When I started flying many years ago, a "carry-on" was a gym bag. Some mags, some toiletries, maybe a Walkman, maybe a small change of clothes. Now, carry-ons are small mobile home, with everyone trying to get an edge on storage. Already-seated passengers get concussions from the later passengers dropping the 50-pound bags on 'em.

It's way out of hand. Pay the freight or ship the stuff to your destination. But these ridiculous bags just gotta go!

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1 reply
kane1lissa Jim March 04 2014 at 9:48 PM

I ship a box FedEx to my destination, then carry just meds and a change of clothes in my carry-on. Same when I return: FedEx even has a "Suitcase Bag" option where you wrap your suitcase in it and then ship it. I always buy too many souvenirs, so shipping makes sense. And if I use Express Saver, it's usually lass than the $25 suitcase fee!

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Eileen March 04 2014 at 9:35 PM

Yeah, I have seen people with 2 huge carry-on suticases that had to be stuffed into the overhead bins. Everyone has to wait while these folks try to find room for the large items. Then, some have their bags sent down to the plane hold without the $25 that everyone else had to pay. I've been complaining about these huge bags for years.

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supermolar March 04 2014 at 9:30 PM

about time

Flag Reply +3 rate up
Brian March 04 2014 at 9:30 PM

How about 1 carry-on means, 1 carry-on !! Not 1 carry-on and a suitcase sized ******* backpack !

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TuskW March 04 2014 at 9:24 PM

It is obnoxious to see passengers hauling huge bags and stuff to avoid the $25. or what ever the cost might be. I seen instances where luggage are dispatched thru out the plane making the de boarding a problem for the owner as well loosing track of their luggage. I have seen passenger asked to remove their belongings from the upper bin to make room for other people overloaded It would be so much more functional and straightforward to include in the ticket price the 25 dollars without even itemizing what it is for. It is part literally of the overhead cost of transporting people. make the first baggage free would alleviate the growing problem and surely cheaper than hiring more folks to police the matter.... that kind of fee is a cheap battle ... may be at first it was intended to reduce luggage but quickly the airlines realized the mistake and don't even attempt to correct their misguided judgment imposing stress to everyone. The mandatory $25 for everyone will increase comfort in the cabin for everyone. The constant seeking cheaper is making the airline travel such a drag compared to what it used to be.....
and apparently no one seems to care

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1 reply
Kymberly TuskW March 04 2014 at 9:39 PM

That's why I like Jet Blue. First bag is free. They may be "secretly" charging me, but it just seems more palpable. I agree with you aboutjust tacking it on the ticket without listing it separately. No one wants to pay the $25.00, thus the problem.

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lindaotter March 04 2014 at 9:17 PM

I say it is about time the airlines enforced the carry on policies that have been in place forever. Long before airlines started charging for bags, carry on was supposed to be able to fit under your seat. I for one am tired of not being able to put a camera bag in the overhead because some hog has carried on a "large" duffle bag.

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rosieluv214 March 04 2014 at 9:17 PM

I recently traveled from LA to Oakland the passengers who brought their "carry ons" were just plain crazy most of them were bigger than the one I checked in. WTH No room in the overhead for not even the first 50 passengers let alone the 140. This should be a policy for all the carriers. Thumbs up United.

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fred March 04 2014 at 9:15 PM

Excellent idea- now go after the inconsiderate turds that yap on a cell phone as loud as they can while sitting around the boarding area.

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Chris March 04 2014 at 9:14 PM

If you have flown lately, the size of the carry on luggages is way to large. We have watched people trying to stuff them in the overhead storage areas. What's bad, is when you land and they pull them out, watch your head.

Flag Reply +4 rate up
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