For the past several weeks there have been discussions on FlyerTalk and Milepoint about an impending change in the carry-on baggage policies for United Airlines. Specifically, it seems that the airline has decided to take their policies seriously and enforce them as written starting in March. And now they’re taking the message to their passengers. This week I received an “important announcement” email from United, reminding me that there are rules.
The stated goal is to help ease the boarding process. The cynical view says that it is also about ancillary fees. To me it seems to be a bit of both. With flight loads higher than ever and more carry-on bags coming on the plane the boarding process is slower. And there certainly are a number of passengers who are breaking the rules without a care in the world. The overall effect is that the experience is more stressful and less pleasant. But it doesn’t have to be that way.
I’m reasonably convinced that the problem is the US-based travelers more than anything else. Last week I boarded a packed ANA flight from San Francisco to Tokyo. The inbound was delayed and the flight boarded late. And somehow we still managed to get 250+ passengers on to a 777 and off the gate in 15 minutes. This isn’t the first time I’ve been amazed by the efficiency with which ANA can board a flight. I saw similar on my two Thai flights as well. Passengers were simply better about getting on board, stowing their stuff and getting in their seats. And if adhering to the rules helps nudge United in the correct direction I’m all in favor of it.
Then again, I also travel light and rarely for work so enforcing these rules as written won’t really affect me at all. I’m sure sure that those who are traveling a bit heavier are going to be frustrated by the rules. I’m working on how sympathetic I should be to their cause. Right now the answer is not very.
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