Seldom do passengers, gate agents, flight attendants and airline management all agree on anything — but all agree that the current system is awful.
Along with the unpleasant airport security checkpoint drill, the glum ritual of boarding a crowded plane and hoping to find space in a crammed overhead bin is one of the two high-anxiety choke points in air travel. Many flight attendants say the bin-storage problem is the part of their job that they dislike the most.
Here's something that the big airlines really wish we wouldn’t discuss right now, with planes flying full, fares rising, fuel prices stabilizing and customers generally resigned to the air travel system:
Some domestic airlines are weighing the idea of discouraging passengers from lugging oversize carry-on bags onto planes by imposing a $25 charge, at the gate, on bags that exceed the posted size limits.
Alaska Airlines, the No. 7 carrier in domestic market share, is already quietly doing just that, in fact.
Spirit Airlines initiated a major new approach to carry-on bags almost two years ago when it began charging passengers $45 to stash carry-ons in overhead bins. Spirit plans to raise that fee at the gate this fall to $100 per bag.
But Spirit’s success in discouraging carry-ons has evidently resonated with the bigger airlines, at least on the subject of passengers who now gate-check oversize bags free.
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