Tag Archives: Baggage

Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

The Revolution

The Revolution

You know that moment when some unbelievably smart person figured out that a suitcase with wheels actually could be turned so that the wheels went on the widest part not the narrowest part?  It was one of the great game changers in travel.  Then the bag moved to a 4-wheel option and you could maneuver your bag like a Mini Cooper through a city; holding it tight to your body but always upright in a busy airport.  Yet still, you have the hassle of either being the first person on the plane, paying the extra bucks for first class, or sweating that your bag is going to get dumped down below in the hold where you will have to “check and pay”.  The worst of all nightmares since you may never see the bag again. The cost of bag check-in on a budget flight can often be more than the flight itself.  Then there is that resentment of all of the people who got on before you that stuck their bags in the overhead bins.

Now there’s a solution and it’s a revolution. Overhead baggage compartments are being redesigned and refitted as we speak with a view to increasing the depth by a few more inches so that the bags can be pushed in vertically on their sides.  It is literally doubling the possibility for carry-on baggage.  Alaska Airlines is leading the way.  Partnering with Boeing, Alaska were the first people to understand that change was not just a good idea, but a necessary idea.  The sacrifice?  Two inches of head room.  There is even room on top of the bags to put tiny bags, coats, or you name it.  The time that it takes for an airline to be fully ready to fly and passengers to be comfortably seated with bags all set, is projected to greatly decrease.  In other words, departure times are going to improve!  Yay!  Tempers won’t get frayed (as much) and flight attendants won’t have to break the bad news to a disgruntled passenger who simply cannot bear the thought of checking in their bag.  All great news.

Now the re-fit begins.  Pretty soon there will be sleeping compartments up there too!

The Revolution Alaska Airlines Pietro Place Peter Jones

Oh, Airport Where Art Thou?

Oh Airport, where art thou?

The Automated Airport

As a frequent traveler I spend a lot of time passing through airports. I’ve noticed a trend and it’s alarming. The humans are disappearing!  In an airport there is increasingly no human contact.  Foreshadowed by the disappearance of the inbound customer service reps, airports are starting to do away with humans. Most of the time now it’s just you, the machine, a credit card or a passport; and those automatic check-in kiosks are for people who couldn’t or didn’t bother to check-in online. And forget the boarding pass. Printed boarding passes are passé.  Every airline (even budget carriers like Southwest) have a mobile boarding pass.  I still print out my boarding pass, by the way. Call me old-fashioned.

The check-in counters almost seem nostalgic now; an oasis for infrequent travelers to get reassurance that there are actual human beings running the show.  The only real reason to check-in with an actual human being is if you’re checking bags.

Baggage, we don’t need no stinkin’ baggage

Airlines seem to discourage it.  JetBlue has finally fallen and as of this month will now be charging fees to check bags.  Notably, only Southwest is remaining true to their “Bags Fly Free” mantra. Might make it worth not having assigned seat. Airfare watchdog is a great place to check to see how much it will cost you if you plan on doing something outlandish, like changing outfits during your travels.

So your first real human contact usually takes place at security. For some that means an actual pat down. Getting frisked in fluorescent lighting is never fun, so note to everybody, get TSA pre-approved.  This is like a VIP list for travelers and those on it get the luxury of keeping their shoes and belts on. Imagine that.

Once you’re through there, there’s no need for human interaction until you get on the plane, unless there’s a problem: you’re on stand-by, you’re late or you’re trying to move your seat or waiting for an upgrade. You now have to deal with…the Gate Keepers.

The Keepers of the Gate

These guys are important – they’re your only hope in most cases, and they know it. So it’s in your best interest to treat them kindly. A great article about gate attendants in WSJ really struck a chord with me the other day. It’s worth a read because it shows the behind-the-scenes of how gate agents juggle passenger requests.

People complain that the gatekeepers are hard, impersonal and tough to communicate with, but it’s not an easy gig. I have always found 100% of the time that the nicer you are, the better things turn out. These are the guys that control everything except the plane itself: the closing of the plane’s doors – you better hope you’re on the right side of it when they do! They can upgrade you, keep you where you are or frankly bump you off if the flight is oversold. Like Santa’s elves, they know who you are and they know how much you paid for your ticket.  Trying to negotiate a free upgrade on a ticket you got on Priceline is probably not going to happen. And copping an attitude with a cheap ticket and you could be left behind. In fact, you deserve to be left behind!  As we tell our kids all the time, attitude is everything.