Travel Comment
Ponderings on all aspects of travel - both at home and abroad.

Jim Eagles: Angry readers react to overhead locker hogs

Cartoon / Rod Emmerson
Cartoon / Rod Emmerson

My recent grizzle about the flying baggage-hogs who ignore the rules and fill the overhead lockers with piles of luggage clearly struck a nerve.

Approaching 200 travellers have since sent emails or posted online comments expressing anger at the selfishness of some passengers and the failure of airlines to enforce their rules on carry-on bags.

The comments included: "These people are a pain in the neck and incredibly selfish ... The airlines should enforce their own rules on hand luggage and safeguard the interests of responsible passengers ... I recently flew from London to Auckland and return and not once was there enough room for my satchel in the overhead locker above my seat ... It infuriates me ... It should not be a gamble as to whether or not you are going to get locker space for your one piece of hand luggage."

There was also an email from an Air NZ international cabin crew member who largely agreed with the complaints and explained how the baggage hogs get away with it.

"Many high-value customers are able to bring on several bags. You may be surprised at the number of these on any given flight.

"Another issue is that an airline may not have its own staff at check-in so those used may be unfamiliar (or unconcerned) about that airline's rules. I had a case last week of two passengers with oversize carry-on bags plus - I kid you not - a full-size backpack each as well. I was the first actual airline employee they were in contact with and that was at the aircraft door.

"Often during boarding we do not see our ground staff until all the customers are on board, by which time the aircraft hold door is closed, making the loading of any bags seized during boarding difficult. A lot of passengers know they have extra bags but are aware they will not be charged extra at the aircraft door as no system is in place for this."

Asked to respond to the outpouring of irritation by Travel readers, an Air NZ spokeswoman - and, to be fair, Air NZ copped less criticism than most airlines - basically blamed passengers for not following the rules.

"Our staff do police the rules and customers carrying obviously overweight or oversize cabin baggage often have it removed at the gate and stowed in the hold and, where practical, customers are directed to weigh cabin baggage in front of our gate staff who also check the dimensions.

"However, the reality of the busy airport environment is that gate staff have a number of safety, security and passenger service roles to perform in a short space of time and there will always be customers who are determined to flout the rules."

If that doesn't sound very encouraging, Thomas AB suggested a tactic frustrated passengers could adopt.

"Whenever I go to my seat and my overhead locker is full, which happens often, I take out some luggage and put it on the floor. If someone from another row claims it, I pass it on to them to store above their row. Most of the time the stewardess intervenes and takes away their luggage to store it somewhere else. Works for me."

But I'll give the last word to Graham CA: "Perhaps Rob Fyfe's parting gift to us passengers would be to have the size, weight and quantity rules enforced at the gate. But don't hold your breath."

- NZ Herald

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