Flight attendant rumors: What your oversize carry-on costs her (or him)

Let’s say you’ve opted to carry on your luggage, the very luggage that is a wee too big to fit in the carry-on size box at check-in. You saw the box, but you really didn’t look at it that closely because it seemed your bag would fit–it should fit, and who really checks anyway?
As it turns out, FAA does check such things. At least, from what I’ve heard from a very reliable source, they’re starting to now. If you bag is too big for the bin, but makes it onto the airplane, the flight attendant who let you squeak by, can get fined for being generous.
The flight attendant can also get fined if she or he lets you:
  • Use your electronic device when you’re not supposed to
  • Get out of your seat when the seat belt sign is on, no matter how badly you have to GO.

This very reliable source personally knows a flight attendant who was recently fined almost $2,000 for such infractions.

Rumor has it that this enforcing rules business has pepped up recently as FAA staff hop on flights, thumbing through rule books, and keeping a watchful eye up and down the aisles to find out if flight attendants are doing what they’re supposed to be doing. No, it’s not that flight attendants are supposed to make us–the passengers–miserable, they’re supposed to keep us safe. Haven’t you been reading Galley Gossip?

Unfortunately, what I see happening is that flight attendants are being put in the middle of airline regulations, especially the one about carry-on size since some airlines have shrunk the allowable carry-on size in order to get people to check bags so they can collect the checked bag fee. This means the flight attendant and passenger relationship may feel more adversarial.

If you are going to try to sneak that bag on, or get out of your seat to go, just keep in mind that your actions may cost money to that flight attendant who smiled and said “Hi” when you got on board.

Also, because of FAA’s pepped up vigilance that flight attendant is going to be watching you more carefully. Watched people watch other people. That bag may not make it on after all. And remember to visit the women’s or men’s room before you get on the plane. And when it’s time to turn off that electronic device, don’t plead just one more minute.

According to Conway L, who posted this picture, the bomb decal on his bag didn’t create a stir. If the bag was a bicycle, that might have been another story.

NOT pre-boarding people with young ones saves time

In an article in the St. Petersburg Times, writer Bridget Hall Grumet tells about her experience waiting with her pre-toddler to pre-board, only to not pre-board after all. The unnamed airline had dropped the practice unbeknown to her. (She later mentions an American Airlines and United flight, but they are not the ones Grumet initially described.)

We’ve posted in the past about airlines who have stopped pre-boarding families with infants and small children. Southwest, American, Delta and United no longer have pre-boarding, although Grumet says that if you ask gate attendants with American and Delta, they may let you board early if you have a small child. Grumet personally found that to be true on an American flight.

Although Grumet misses the perk of boarding early with a kid because it makes settling in on a plane that much easier, she does understand the airlines’ latest practice. The idea behind not making allowances for people with small children and infants, and others who need assistance, is that when they get on the plane in one group, it creates a bottleneck.

If people who need extra help are randomly spread out during the boarding process, it saves 10 to 12 minutes. That may not sound like much, but as airlines struggle to get people to their destinations on time, 10 to12 minutes can jam up arrivals and departures for more than that one airplane.

My thought is that if I were traveling with a small child, I’d not be in any hurry to board. Spend less time on the airplane. The problem with that strategy is that with overhead bins becoming more packed as people avoid the cost of checking a bag, there won’t be space in the bins. Then you’d be stuck searching out a bin rows from your seat. See Heather’s post on how the trying to find bin space can look to a flight attendant.

Here’s one of my solutions for combating the headache of traveling on a plane with a small child. When at all possible, take the train. Stay tuned tomorrow for my post on how train travel worked out for me. My six year-old got us on the train first.