Carry-On Craziness

"I'm sorry, sir, that carry-on is too big!" Or so the gate attendant told me. In fact, it fit just fine.

The line was the newest "company line" I was given at the beginning of my most recent flight on US Airways. I knew it was nonsense as soon as I heard it.

I've been carrying the same TravelPro rolling hang-up as carry-on luggage literally for years. Airlines all over the U.S., Canada, and Europe have allowed me to carry it on, and it fits nicely in the overhead luggage compartments of most full-sized jets (737s, MD-80s, A-320s). TravelPro designed it to do just that.

Even though I explained I'd been carrying it on for years and, because the aircraft was an A-320, I knew it would fit, the gate attendant insisted on putting a yellow gate-check tag on it and told me to leave it at the end of the jetway.

Nothing doing.

I took it aboard, and it slipped into the overhead as neatly as it had all those other times in the past.

Why the fuss?

It wasn't that the luggage had changed, nor had the overhead storage bins. It was that the airline's story had changed. It seems US Airways recently decided to change the dimensions of what it considers "carry-on luggage." Not that you'll find this information easily (or perhaps at all) on its web site. My trusty carry-on had now been declared oversized.

B.S. And what's more, I'm pushing back.

I will continue to use this suitcase as a carry-on, continue to argue my point, and force the gate attendants to take it from me and "check it to my final destination" if they insist. At least that way, I'll avoide the obscene checked-baggage charge.

But all this is beside the point.

The point is that U.S. airlines are out of control. They continue to make arbitrary rules which they change without notice, and seemingly without reason beyond some perverse desire to exert even more control over the flying public.

The point is that U.S. airlines badly need to be reregulated. And it needs to happen soon.

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