"The Friendly Skies…"

I have had the fortune/misfortune of having to travel on an airplane more frequently than usual lately.  Not anything even remotely resembling a frequent flyer mind you, just more than I’m used to.  Okay, twice in a month if you must know, but it’s all relative, right?  Even though I am still something of a novice traveler, I apparently have a better grasp of airport/airline basics than some of my more seasoned fellow travelers seem to.

A recent article noted a backlash against some airlines, who most likely are already charging you for checking your bags, that now want to charge for Carry On Bags.  Forty-five bucks!  There is even a Bill being proposed in Congress to prohibit airlines from imposing this charge. While this may be a swift kick to the sensibilities of your basic frequent-flyer types, I applaud the move to charge for Carry Ons.  In fact, I am almost willing to pay you, out of my own pocket, not to bring a bag onto any flight on which I am a passenger.  Why should I, a forward-thinking, conscientious person who arrived early enough to check my bag so as to board the plane unencumbered, have to endure you dragging a full sized Samsonite Hard Sided suitcase down the aisle, pretending it’s a “Carry-On”, running it over my toes, and smacking it repeatedly into my elbow?  Why should I have to do a duck and cover as you try to squeeze your steamer trunk into the compartment above my seat because you arrived late and found all the storage above your seat (at least ten rows up from mine) has been taken?  And finally, why should I have to wait, stuck here in my undersized seat for an extra 20 minutes after the doors to the aircraft have been opened, while you attempt to swim upstream against the river of departing travelers, in order to retrieve same?  No.  Here’s $20.  Throw that piece of shit out onto the tarmac and sit your dumb ass down.

I actually like to check my bag.  I like to be able to drop it off, and walk through the terminal without dragging it behind me, or having to worry about renting one of those amputated shopping carts for a buck-fifty to carry it comfortably.   I like being able to use the Men’s Room without having to balance my bag precariously on the top of the urinal, lest I set it down in God-Knows-What kind of bodily fluids on the bathroom floor.   So it is a real pisser when I go to all the trouble (and now expense) to check my bag, when all I am really doing is paying to stay on the plane longer.  The fee for checking your bag should come with a little badge that allows you to immediately kick out the person sitting closest to the door, and take their seat.  And while I’m at it, the bigger your “Carry-On” bag is, the further back in the airplane you sit.  Drag your coffin back to 49C and sit your dumb ass down.

Airlines allow one Carry-On Bag per passenger.  Why is it then that women get two?  They get their briefcase, or laptop bag, or backpack, their what-the-fuckever, AND they get a purse.  And I’m not talking about little black wristlets here.  Have you seen the size of women’s purses lately?  If it’s big enough to fit a pair of shoes into, it’s not a purse; it’s a duffel bag.  One. Bag. Each.  Here’s $20.  Throw that piece of shit out onto the tarmac and sit your dumb ass down.

Southwest used to have a wooden yellow rectangle, that measured about 20” x 12” at the entrance to the jetways on all their flights, with a sign above it that said:  “If your bag won’t fit through this, it must be checked.”  I haven’t flown Southwest for a while, so I can’t say if the signs are still there; but I do think it’s a fabulous idea, as most people would try to bring a full set of golf clubs on board if you let them.

Some basic guidelines for those of you who obviously don’t know what constitutes a Carry On Bag:

  • If you can’t carry it, it’s too big.
  • If you can’t lift it above your head under your own power, it’s too big.
  • If it has wheels, it’s more than likely too big.
  • If you’re going to stow it above my seat (there’s space up there because I checked my bag, dontcha you know) you have to leave it alone.  There is no coming back here 3 or 4 times to stick your crotch in my face while you get your People Magazine or your kid’s Pokemon game.
  • Please get ready to get up and retrieve your bag before the row behind you.  That big bump you felt a little while back was the plane landing.  Get your shoes on and your shit together before they open the door.
  • Here’s $20….

The final insult is the baggage carousel.  I don’t mind the wait for the bags, really.  I use the time constructively.   I wander outside, have a smoke, and decompress a little from the trip.  And I love the feeling of excitement and joy when I see my bag poke it’s head out and plop itself down on the conveyor, knowing we are finally to be reunited. But people, please, spread out for Crissakes! Don’t clump right at the mouth of the conveyor belt and then walk along like you are walking next to a moving automobile, scattering people like bowling pins, as you try to retrieve your five suitcases.  You are not on the Merry Go Round trying to throw the ring into the clown’s mouth.  Don’t worry. It’s a circle.  They will come around again.  And put a luggage tag, or other easily identifiable marking, on them.  I know it’s a crazy thought, but in their attempt to actually turn a profit maybe, just maybe, the people at American Tourister have made more than one small, black rolling bag.  Don’t grab every single one, like you’re trying to find a ripe tomato at the supermarket, and then chuck it back like an undersized trout.  And thanks so much for your delicate handling of the set of margarita glasses I was bringing home from Cabo.

I’m sure most flight crews are as tired of dealing with these Chuckleheads as I am.  I mean, if you have to show a video about how to operate a seatbelt, how much more dumbing-down can you possibly do?   Airlines should have an IQ test for all passengers, asking some basic questions that would determine if you are really smart enough to fly.  If you don’t get at least a C, it’s all about a Greyhound ticket for you, sweetheart.

It is in this spirit of frustration and general crankiness that I have put together the following intelligence barometer to help you determine if you are, indeed, smart enough to fly.  If you don’t meet this simple criteria please stay off of airplanes.  Especially the one flying from San Francisco to Atlanta on April 29th at 10:45am…

Where are you on this scale?

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6 Responses to "The Friendly Skies…"

  1. Hallelujah!!!I just flew twice in the last month myself and boy oh boy…it is a PITA to travel these days between stripping down at security and dealing with everyone trying to carry everything on to avoid the check in fees. Both airlines I flew BTW had NO check in fees for 1st bag so WTF? I do carry on one bag..a backback that stows neatly under my seat so it bothers noone but me. But damn..big ass carryons people are bringing and they bring 2 or 3.

    BTW..MOST airlines still have that little measuring box at the gates but they area all covered in cobwebs because noone is measuring or being asked to measure!!

  2. Chris says:

    While I completely understand your rule about being able to actually pick up your own bag, I am not sure that carrying on all of your luggage isn’t a good idea. I travel a lot for both business and personal reasons and try to avoid checking luggage whenever possible.

    The reason is that I can avoid the whole check in line, the mishandling of luggage (has happened to me), lost luggage (has happened to me) and the idiots that crowd the luggage-go-round. The luggage-go-round is probably one of the larger parts of the process that gets my blood boiling. Most airports have a white line around the machine to show people where to stand, which is a few feet away, and they always ignore it.

    The amount of time spent dealing with luggage can mean I miss a meeting or need to spend more time traveling rather than having a dinner with some friends/co-workers/partners or can actually enjoying myself where I am.

    Also, to be clear, it isn’t the cash because I could have the company I work for take care of it…

    When you notice other pilots or flight attendants fly, they tend to always carry on all their luggage. That is a pretty big sign to me. 😛

    • nativenapkin says:

      Most of my travelling, thankfully, is for pleasure not business so I admittedly have different sensibilities. I just hate stupidity in any manifestation.

    • Sam Foster says:

      Here’s the problem with carryons, Chris, and I hope you aren’t one of these people but there are rules about them: no bigger than a certain size, etc. and just because no one stops one from carrying it on doesn’t mean one SHOULD carry it on.

      We need to make a clear distinction between reasonable carryons and retards who bring giant, heavy things with them.

  3. Taz says:

    Interesting…

    Except for the issue of assisting the baggage-handler gorillas’ seething desire to misdirect whatever they can’t play midnight volleyball or kick-the-can with, I was with you until that “You must be this smart” thingy – and the only things you got wrong on that were misplacing “Unka Walter” above ol’ Homer The Donut-Lover, and using the WORST pic anyone’s ever seen of Lil’ Obambam, the White House Whizbang at the bottom – that WAS The Won, the Nadir Of Gubmint Dolts, you intended to put there, right?

  4. fats waller says:

    On a flight from San Diego to SF, I saw two salesmen nearly get in a fistfight over who got to stow their giant roller bag in the last overhead bin.

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