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…