Archive for Saturday, June 20, 1998

LUGGAGE LIMITS

June 20, 1998

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More airline passengers would be willing to check their carry-on luggage if they could be assured their belongings would be quickly available when they get to their destinations.

Commercial airline officials are mounting a major campaign to limit the number and size of carry-on luggage. They cite the frequency of injuries caused by packages or luggage spilling out from overhead storage bins, how passengers often are delayed in getting seated due to problems associated with placing items in these overhead spaces and the added work carry-on luggage causes flight attendants.

These airline spokespeople also claim flights often are delayed in their take-off schedules due to passengers not getting seated on time so the planes can taxi to the runways.

Granted, many airline passengers abuse the carry-on situation by bringing on too many items or luggage that is far too large and trying to stuff these items in the overhead compartments.

It would seem alert airline personnel could stop this practice by refusing to allow passengers to board a plane if they are trying to carry on excessive items or luggage that is too large.

Perhaps the No. 1 reason a growing number of airline passengers elect to carry on their luggage is that it often takes so long to retrieve luggage that has been checked. There also is the related problem of lost or damaged luggage.

If airline officials made a greater effort to have checked luggage unloaded from planes more quickly and reduced the incidence of lost or damaged luggage, far more travelers would elect to check their luggage rather than putting up with the hassle and problems of stowing it in the overhead bins or under seats.

Kansas City International Airport is fine in many categories, particularly the proximity of parking facilities and the ease of passengers checking in for tickets and seat assignments. However, in most cases, it takes far too long for passengers to get their luggage after arriving in Kansas City. It's either a case of not enough people unloading the planes or a careless, don't-care attitude by those unloading the plane and getting luggage onto conveyors and into the terminal buildings.

Those who arrive with carry-on luggage in Kansas City -- and at most other airports -- are able to depart their planes and immediately head for their destination. Those with checked luggage frequently are left waiting many minutes for their luggage and sometimes learn their checked items have been misplaced en route.

A better, more-efficient luggage-handling system would be a major step in reducing the amount of carry-on luggage.

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