Who’s really to blame for these absurd luggage rules?

Just the mention of the words “baggage” and “rule” in the same sentence is enough to raise the blood pressure of the average air traveler.

But Ellie Duram’s story is special. It’s a series of run-ins with pure airline ridiculousness that it merits a closer look, and prompts a bigger question: Who’s responsible for the sad state of affairs, when it comes to luggage?

Let’s start with an incident that happened a few months ago on a Delta Air Lines flight from Wichita, Kan., to Detroit. Duram was spending a week with her sister, so she paid Delta $25 for a checked bag.

“At the luggage carousel in Detroit, everybody else on my flight picked up their bag and left,” she remembers. “After an hour my bag had not shown up, so I went to the baggage claim office. The gal asked me: ‘How long has it been?’ When I said an hour, she said: ‘It’s only been an hour? If it doesn’t show up in two hours, you come back and tell me.'”

Two hours later, still no sign of her missing bag. Her sister was circling the terminal, waiting to pick up Duram. Finally, she returned to the luggage office and asked again. An airline representative radioed someone and assured her the bag would be there – and sure enough, two hours and fifteen minutes later, she was reunited with her luggage.

Duram asked Delta to refund her $25, but it refused. After all, it had transported her bag from Wichita to Detroit; just not at exactly the same time as her.

New government rules require an airline to refund your baggage fee if it loses your property. But it wouldn’t have done her any good. Delta and other airlines typically only consider a bag “lost” if it’s missing in action for more than 21 days (have a look at Delta’s customer commitment).

Duram is baffled by the silliness of Delta’s refusal, so she decides to carry her bag on her next flight to Atlanta (again, on Delta). After her flight landed, the fun began.

“The compartment directly over my head, where my bag was, would not open,” she says. “The pilot showed up and pounded on it. He couldn’t get it pryed open either, so he said: ‘I’ll need to call a mechanic.’”

The mechanic finally opened the compartment, but she missed her connecting flight and ended up spending the night in Atlanta at Delta’s expense. Delta even threw in a voucher for the trouble, because somewhere along the way, a Delta representative said she’d also been bumped from her connecting flight. (Technically, hers was a “mechanical” delay, but Delta treated it like an involuntary denied boarding situation – either way, airlines are required to compensate customers when those happen.)

And then, the kicker — when Duram tried to redeem the voucher, she encountered a common but aggravating problem: the phone reservation fee.

“The cost of the flight was $483 so with my $400 voucher I figured I would need to charge $83 to my credit card,” she says. “Wrong. They charged $108 to my card. Why? Because I phoned in my reservation!”

That’s right, a $25 fee applies to each phone reservation. And the only way to redeem the voucher is by phone.

If you didn’t hear yourself exclaiming, “That’s ridiculous!” as you read Duram’s account, then maybe you work for an airline.

Her story is as absurd as it is common.

Here’s what should have happened: Delta should have coughed up Duram’s luggage fee without her having to ask for it. The $25 fee is paid with the understanding that the bag will be delivered with the passenger.

That might have prevented her from wedging what was probably an oversize bag into her overhead compartment on her next flight, and maybe she would have made her connecting flight to Wichita.

And then Duram wouldn’t have had to deal with the preposterous voucher redemption system that requires users to pay a $25 usage fee. (You’d think an airline as sophisticated as Delta would figure out a way of allowing online redemptions – unless, of course, the phone redemptions were a profit center.)

I don’t mean to pick on Delta. The same kinds of stories are told about other legacy airlines, who have their own kind of logic and sense of customer service that defies any convention.

But what’s truly amazing – ridiculous, really – is that we let them. So-called watchdogs say these dumb rules are necessary in order for an airline to turn a profit. Airline apologists who specialize in collecting useless airline miles say any criticism of the rules comes because we really don’t have an insider-level understanding of the airline business, which is apparently required in order to comment on anything an airline does, no matter how outrageous.

And, of course, we passengers perpetuate this system because we pay for it without questioning it. Perhaps that’s the most ridiculous thing of all.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at chris@elliott.org. Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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  • bodega3

    I voted that all this is due to customers.  Why?  Because the cheap flyers asked for everything to be unbundled and the airlines saw a way to make more money and obliged.  Thanks…….

  • http://www.orlandolocal.com William Beem

    I won’t fly on Delta, or most other legacy airlines.  On my last trip, I decided to drive from Orlando to Washington, D.C., and then back home again.  The trip took longer, and perhaps even cost more when you factor in fuel & overnight hotel charges in each direction.

    On the other hand, I had a more comfortable seat, I wasn’t inspected by the TSA, my luggage arrived when I did, and I had much less stress.  It was nice to have use of my car at my destination rather than use a rental car, too.

    Driving may not always be an option, but I got better customer service at most truck stops than I have from an airline.

  • y_p_w

    I’m a cheap flyer and I never asked for anything to be unbundled.  I miss meals on flights and always appreciated the standard two free checked in bags.  I remember using it to bring home some stuff that cost about as much as a checked in bag would today.  If I had to pay for it, the stuff would have been dumped in the garbage somewhere in the Miami area.

    What I really don’t like is the liquid policy. So I can’t carry a 12 bottle of shampoo in carryon, but can pay $15-25 for the privilege to bring one with me in checked in luggage.However, I blame People Express for starting the trend.  They started charging for checked bags.  They started charging for meals, soft drinks, and even snacks.

  • http://flyicarusfly.com/ Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Does anyone have stats as to whether the total cost of a ticket has increased beyond the norm since the unbundling? (Comparing flights + checked baggage). Is all this aggravation because we now see  everything as an add-on? Or have flights really become cheaper / stayed the same?

    I’m surprised Delta didn’t charge the OP for screwing up the overhead bin (and deducting it from her voucher…)

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    Remember Delta’s customer mantra: “We’re not happy until you’re not happy.”

    OK, I might have made that up, but they are *shockingly* bad at customer service. Most airlines are, and there is a race to the bottom as we now expect to be herded like cattle in exchange for that all important ticket price to be as low as possible.

    It is our own fault for thinking of airline travel as a tradable commodity that is only valued at purchase time in the eyes of the ticket price. The moment we as customers start to favour airlines where everything is bundled up once again, that airline service will get back to being half-respectable.

  • emanon256

    The liquid policy is TSA, not the airlines. 

  • emanon256

    Requiring someone to redeem a voucher by phone, and then requiring them to pay the $25 phone booking fee in order to use the voucher is incredibly ridiculous.  I ran into the same thing with continental 2 years ago.  Only I was given a $25 voucher, and in reading it, it said they voucher must be booked by phone, and there was a $25 booking fee for booking by phone.  So it essentially became a $0 voucher.  I am glad to see they allow vouchers on-line now, but I am shocked Delta still can’t.  And I agree, they should have refunded the OPs checked bag fee because of the delay.  Not just when its lost.
    I have to agree with Bodega.  Over the years I heard many people ask the airlines to unbundle things.  I heard and read many complaints by consumers stating, “I don’t check my bag, I should pay less for my ticket.”, or “I don’t eat the airplane food, I should pay less for my ticket.”, or “I book on-line, I should pay less for my ticket,” etc.  I wonder if it’s these same people complaining now that they do get charged for these things.  Or maybe it’s now the group of people who did use these service and didn’t complain before who are now complaining.  I know someone posted stats on here once a long time ago about how prices changed after these unbundling’s.  And I believe that ticket prices did actually go down when everything was offered ala carte, but please correct me if I am wrong.  Although ticket prices have gone up a lot recently, so a comparison of the then to now price would not be valid.

  • Raven_Altosk

    I voted the airlines, but there are times I feel the rules are the customer’s fault. Course, half the time the airline doesn’t bother to enforce them. 

    I flew my least favorite route last week–IAH to MCO. This is a business traveler’s nightmare; people who fly it aren’t seasoned travelers, most of the people don’t have a brain because it’ left with all the cash they laid out to see Mickey, and some think “I have kids, the rules don’t apply to me.” Not to mention upgrades seem really tough to score…

    Anywho, I shouldn’t have been surprised when a family with six kids–two lap children–boarded towards the end and tried to cram hugely oversized pieces above their heads despite the MANY gate AND boarding announcements that the flight was FULL and they were willing to gate check bags for free. At one point, the FAs were turning away more pieces. On comes Entitled Family. Oh, they don’t want to give up their rollaboards. They NEED those. Plus their diaper bags, kiddie rollaboards, the whole nine yards.

    Entitled Daddy, who announced to the entire flight that he had spent over $20K to take the brood to Di$ney, he was not giving up his luggage and others had to accommodate THEM.  (Perhaps this dumbass thought he was on Di$ney Air?!?!)

    Entitled Mommy gives one of her lapkids to a 12-ish looking girl and proceeds to TAKE THINGS OUT of the overhead bins to make room for HER things.

    FA stops her, Lead FA comes back tells them the bags are going to be gate checked except the diaper bags which can go under the seats. Oh no. Entitled Mommy isn’t flying with something under her seat! She PAID for her ticket!

    At this point, I’m thinking I need to film this fiasco b/c I was certain that Entitled Parents would be crying to the nearest news station about UA HATING CHILDREN. We’ve all seen those cases, right?

    But I decided against it. 

    They are told in no uncertain terms to give up the luggage OR get off the plane. Entitled Mommy says she’s “Never received such horrid service!” (Clearly she doesn’t fly much…)

    She sits down, puts two kids next to her, holds one of the lap children, and then Entitled Daddy takes the last kid to his seat a row behind. But oh, kid wants to sit in the window. Entitled Daddy tells the woman sitting there he wants the window seat. She declines, and the rest of us hear him letting her know (loudly) how much he paid for this vacation and he wanted his kid to be HAPPY.

    At this point the FAs tell Entitled Father and Entitled Mother to move the luggage back to the front so it can be gate checked. Why? BECAUSE THEY LEFT THE LUGGAGE IN THE AISLE.

    Entitled Parents make a huff and eventually do move it. But we left 20 minutes late thanks to these idiots.

    Now, had it been a business man or a couple acting like boobs, they probably would have be escorted off. But an obnoxious family will generally get a pass–especially on this Magical Route–because no airline wants to be on the morning talk shows being accused of “hating children” or “ruining a Di$ney vacation.”

    Honestly, I pity the FAs on MCO routes…I really do.

  • TonyA_says

    The $25 first bag check-in fee is now SOP except for Southwest and JetBlue. So unless you are an elite traveler or use some club credit card, there is no point arguing these baggage fees Ad infinitum.

    Delayed baggage can happen with any airline. Regardless of fees, many passengers carry-on their luggage because they do not want to wait and claim them from the carousel. Also, most people use carry-on because they want to be sure they don’t lose the bag. The decision to carry-on was the OP’s. I suppose she also was the one who loaded it on the upper compartment. If she got it stuck because it was over-sized,  then it’s her fault. Actually Delta was pretty good for helping her retrieve her luggage AND putting her up for the night and then re-accommodating her on the next available flight. The $400 voucher was likely an e-credit or a paper voucher.  If it was an eCredit (or e-cert as they are called sometimes), then they could be used online. If it was a paper voucher, then [I believe] you could use it to pay at a Delta counter or ticket office if you want to avoid the $25 telephone reservation fee.

    While this article surely described what seemed to be a comedy of errors, what happened was all par for the course in a self-service world where prices are cut to the bone. In the end she still got to see her sister and hopefully enjoyed it.

  • Chris_In_NC

    There is a reason why Southwest is my default airline… we fly them, even when they do not have the lowest airfare

  • emanon256

    Now I am getting flash back of the weekly commute to MCO I had to do a few years ago.  Argh!  Those were the worst 6 months of flying I ever had to do.  Somehow the parents on UA were far worse than the parents on F9, I have no clue why. Usually F9 cost more at the 3 week out point when I was booking.
    Your story also reminds me of some self-important business man who told me last Sunday that “I paid good money for this seat, and I better get to use the arm rest.”  I wanted to say that I believe pretty much everyone on here paid good money for their seats too, but decided I didn’t want to start a fight with someone I would be sitting next to for 4 hours.  Either way, he jabbed me in the side the entire flight, even when I tried to give him room.

  • Chris_In_NC


    I don’t think cheap flyers ask for everything to be unbundled. Frankly, I hear more business travelers (ie the ones that don’t check bags) complain that they are paying “higher” fares because they don’t check bags.

    Also, travelers who are asking for low fares does not mean they are being cheap. I want low fares. I want VALUE. I don’t want to get ripped off. I am willing to pay for value. Hence, I don’t mind splurging for extras or better customer service. Hence, the willingness to pay extra for a Southwest flight, a Hertz car rental, or stay at a Marriott or Hilton vs a budget hotel.

    What burns me up, is that the unbundled fares is a facade. It really doesn’t translate to better value

  • TonyA_says


  • TonyA_says

    oops again

  • TonyA_says

    I’ve noticed that Air France and Cathay Pacific handle this differently.
    They have their gate agents wander around the gate area and HUNT for
    big and multiple carry-ons. Then they tell the pax that they MUST tag
    the bag and gate check it IF THEY WANT TO BOARD. Since most of this is
    happening early, it does not make the flight late. If airlines want to
    prevent on-board confrontations, I think they need to do it the way AF
    and CX does it.

  • emanon256

    In the MSN airport on any of my UA and F9 flights I have seen the agents do this.  I have not seen it for US Carriers in any other US airports except MSN and I love it!  The F9 A319s typically boarded in 15-20 min, and the UA CR7s typically boarded in less than 10 minutes.  I wish they did this EVERYWHERE!!!

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    Sorry but this is ridiculous. Not everybody can take carry-on luggage for their trip, some people *must* check bags. If they are paying for that service, then they should either:

    a) Be told what the limitations of the service are: your bag might not turn up on the same flight you do
    b) Expect that the bag is going to be ready for collection in a timely manner at the destination

    If neither happen, the customer deserves a refund, and Delta need to make sure one of these happen. Ideally the warning should come at the point the ticket is being booked, and no later.

    As customers we *must* demand a basic level of customer service otherwise what we will witness is constantly deteriorating service and the only airlines left will either be so cut back they become borderline dangerous, or so expensive only the 1% can afford them.

    It is unlikely her bag was over-sized. Most check-in staff will spot a bag outside of the ICAO limits on sight, and you bet that Delta will make them put it in the size-guide bins near the desks to make sure. The overhead storage bin was too small, simple as. Another cost-cutting exercise? Probably.

    And if you’re going to have the grace to give somebody a coupon because you think you’ve given them a tough time, you undermine the good will you’re trying to build back with them by putting a $25 sting into their tail the moment they try to use it.

    Delta suck. They suck because we let them suck. Everybody should basically just stop flying with them until they seriously improve their customer service and as an industry we should get more clued up about making people happy, period.

  • TonyA_says

    Unless you don’t read, there is a whole section(s) for Baggage in Delta’s COCs (and other airlines). Their website also has a lengthy section about luggage. Finally, there’s a DOT Rule on luggage, too.

    What else do you want if you or other pax don’t care to read the COC or the law? How many times have you seen Delta use the sizer?
    Maybe never. And if you are flying from/to JFK, DTW, ATL; I wish you good luck finding other airlines as Delta seems to have dominated these airports.

    ADDED: What ICAO limits are you talking about? Are these people carrying Dangerous or Hazardous goods? For most countries, it is the airlines that regulate their own CARRY ON SIZE AND WEIGHT LIMITS. Do your research!

  • Chasmosaur

    AutoTrain is also an option :)

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    I suspect you work for Delta. When a sales offer is made to you for a product or service, do you read all the small print, check the law, and then make a decision or do you (quite reasonably) expect the product or service to be explained to you properly, and when you buy it for the provider to do their job fairly?

    It should actually be in the Delta COC that if your bag is going on another flight, they’ll tell you before they sell you the bag-check service, or if they do delay it onto another flight (as clearly happened here), the bag-check is free and you’ll get $50 towards your next flight as a “sorry”. The fact that it isn’t speaks volumes about just how much Delta reps, management and other staff absolutely despise their customers and hold them in the highest contempt.

    I don’t blame Delta though: customers can vote with their dollars, and until they do at sufficient scale that Delta gets close enough to going bust that they wake up and realise they have a *major* attitude problem, we’re all in trouble.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JWIDK73REHGADBHYLCUC3FBV7Y Bob

     But unbundling does count as better value if the alternative is price increases for everyone. Considering costs are much higher now than 10 years ago (oil prices), prices should be higher as well.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JWIDK73REHGADBHYLCUC3FBV7Y Bob

    “They suck because we let them suck.”
    So it’s the passengers faults then?
    And good luck getting people to boycott them – all airlines suck just about as much (or as little) on average.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/JWIDK73REHGADBHYLCUC3FBV7Y Bob

    Alaska Airlines actually does have a customer-friendly policy, where they give you $20 credit if your bag isn’t there within 20 minutes of your flight landing, with almost no exceptions.

  • Chasmosaur

    When my family went to Disney in the 90’s, my BIL was on the business run to MCO twice a month.  He told us about how horrid the flight was.  Our entire family are seasoned travelers (including the then “littles”), so we just checked all the big stuff and only brought personal/under-seat items, except for a compact umbrella stroller bought specifically for the trip because it was designed fit compactly in an overhead bin. (So it folded up into a rectangle of sorts, not a long thin package.)

    An FA tried to tell us on the trip home that the stroller couldn’t be there, despite it being the only OHB item for 9 seats. And we had researched – strollers *were* allowed in the bins as long as they fit.  My Dad didn’t act entitled, but he did stand his ground, since there were bags bigger than the stroller in the bin that were keeping it from closing.  It wasn’t about the whole “Happy Disney vacation” – he thought with nine seats in our party we were allowed at least one medium-sized OHB item that actually fit without difficulty.  But I think this particular FA was in an “anti-Disney” mode.  (I can’t say I blame her, but still, wrong family to pick on.)

    Ultimately, the other FA’s discovered (well, I think the people around her essentially narced on her) there was a business-woman in the back of the plane who had brought on 4 or 5 matching and identically tagged carry-ons – two rollers, some smaller sample case type things, a personal item.  She had claimed one entire OHB for herself and used no under-seat space, and you could hear her yelling throughout the plane about how she couldn’t possibly check any of her items or put them under the seat as the FA’s took the luggage away for gate check.  How she got on the plane without various staff noticing, I still have no idea.

    So yeah, I hate entitled families on the MCO run.  But it’s not like all business travelers are good about carry ons either.

  • Chasmosaur

    Can someone please explain the insane troll logic that says a person can’t complain about their baggage not showing up on the carousel with the rest of the flight for TWO HOURS?

  • EvilEmpryss

    Hold, on, this woman was able to get on board with what was probably an obviously oversized bag that caused the company to have to spend time and money to get her luggage out of the bin it should never have been put in to begin with, and she sees the resulting series of annoyances as the airline’s fault? What would the airline have done if someone else’s bag was in the same bin as hers?  With overhead bin space as tight as it is, the fact that no other passenger was put out by the stuck bin is pretty strong evidence that her bag should have been gate-checked by the attendants.  I feel bad for the people on the next flight (a whole plane full of them!) who were delayed because this woman decided her baggage was more important than anyone else’s convenience.

    So the bag was late, once, but got to her in good condition and she’s fussy about the $25 fee.  That right there is where this story should have ended, with a one-time inconvenience that quite possibly wouldn’t have been repeated on her return flight.  I’m not an airline apologist by any means, but this woman brought the rest of her trouble on herself.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Ran across this yesterday and thought of you and this blog: http://youtu.be/M4SkoJy3D0M

    (Safe for work).

  • Extramail

    I get it! We got transferred from south Atlanta to Louisville, ky and, for the 2 1/2 years it took us to sell our house (2007!), we drove 7 hours each way virtually every week just because it was so much easier than flying. To this day, if a drive is less than 10 hours, we will drive it instead of flying and my husband has almost two million miles on delta.

  • suzy martin

    Christopher Elliott — Where do you get your facts from?  Domestically, Delta does NOT issue paper vouchers.  They ARE ALL electronic vouchers that CAN be redeemed online.  Please check your facts before you comment on the ridiculousness of it!  Every time I read an article where you so blatantly fail to fact check I lose respect for you as a journlist. 

  • msa20

    Yes, families and infrequent travelers are the worst.  I agree with the idea that bag policing is best done before anybody gets to the jetway.

  • TonyA_says

    I suggest Developer, Technologists, Writer, Whatever folks work a couple of days on the ramp or counter at an airport facility and see how it really works! Maybe you see why sh*t happens.

    You know it’s very easy to be an armchair critic. Most of the people who write a lot of BS crap in blogs don’t know what they are really writing about.

    There is nothing wrong working for an airline. Most of the folks who work there bust their behinds day in day out to fly and serve people like you. At least most airlines (here in the USA) are not financed with tax dollars.

  • TonyA_says

     or 2,000 frequent flyer miles. Good airline.

  • y_p_w

    I understand that. However, back when TSA instituted the policy back in 2006, anyone who was transporting a large bottle of toiletries or a bottle of wine/liquor could place such items in checked in luggage, which required no extra charge with pretty much every carrier.

    Then they started charging for the 2nd bag, and finally the first.  Partially I’d think it’s because they know even those traveling light might be bringing along stuff that the TSA won’t allow in carryon.

  • TonyA_says

    Sure you can complain. That happens to us a lot of times when we take the last flight from ORD to HPN. They deliver our bags to our home the next morning. We are already so used to it.

  • IGoEverywhere

    Most luggage size and weight rules come via the “MISERABLE UNIONS” (the cause of 60+% of all airline bankrupcies and OSHA. Eastern Airlines, one of the great legacy airlines went out of business after the baggage handlers strike. Getting back on point! You get nothing what-so-ever from any airline today.

  • TonyA_says

    I would agree with you (but I was not there). As far as I know the I/VDB compensation called Delta Dollars are e-certs. For a long time, there was (or still is) a blackmarket on those e-certs. Some travel agents actually traded them (even if they were not suppose to be transferable or battered or sold).

    What are Delta Dollars? (Note: The voucher number begins with 006066)

    Delta Dollars are transportation vouchers that can be used to
    compensate customers who have given up their seats on overbooked
    flights. Every airport location has information on Delta Dollars and on
    compensation for denied boarding:

    The Delta Dollar transportation vouchers are good toward the
    purchase of any published fare on Delta Air Lines, Delta Shuttle®,
    Connection Carriers, and Delta designated codeshare flights. They are
    only valid for the payment of tickets and government-imposed taxes and
    fees. They are not valid towards other types of fees, and they do not
    have any cash value.Delta Dollars issued prior to Dec 15, 2011 are combinable with
    other vouchers and can be transferred to another passenger. To transfer
    Delta Dollars you must provide the passenger with the 13-digit voucher
    number and complete name as issued on the voucher. Delta Dollars
    issued on or after Dec 15, 2011 are not combinable and can be
    transferred to another passenger as long as the person whose name
    appears on the voucher is traveling in the same reservation. If the cost of the ticket is less than the value of the voucher,
    any remaining value will be credited to a new Delta Dollar voucher in
    the name of the original recipient.Please review the complete Terms & Conditions, which may vary per voucher.

    Some airlines actually give you $400 CASH for VDB. We were offered $2K is US Currency by Cathay Pacific last December to reroute our (5) JFK-HKG-xxx tickets to JFK-LHR-HKG-xxx PLUS and upgrade to BUSINESS CLASS. We did not accept the offer.
    The next family behind us did. I guess CASH is king.

    ADDED: US Law actually states the IDB compensation is either CASH or CHECK. But the pax can agree to get travel compensation instead. Please note I = INVOLUNTARY or bumped.

  • Smell_The_Glove

    OF course it’s the customers.  And stupid ones at that.  Like all the people here who said “I didn’t ask for things to be unbundled.” 

    Sure you did – every time you selected that fare that was $10 cheaper than the next guy that’s exactly the system you asked for.  You know you’ve all done it.  Do you think the airlines just up one day and said, “Hey, let’s piss off customers?”  No, they’re just giving the “consumer” what they’ve asked for for years.

    Why do you think Wal-Mart can’t keep enough low quality crap on the shelves while makers of quality products struggle?  Why do you think there are no travel agents anymore? 

    We vote everyday with our behavior.  We’re just too stupid and short-sighted to know it. 

  • Smell_The_Glove

     “I’m a cheap flyer and I never asked for anything to be unbundled.  ”

    Sure you did, by being cheap.

  • Raven_Altosk

    This is where a piece of gum is useful. Chew it, then leave it on the arm rest in front of him. Guarantee he’ll move his arm.

  • http://www.orlandolocal.com William Beem

    True.  I looked into it and wanted to try it.  The expense changed my mind, though.

  • Michael__K

    FWIW, I received a VDB voucher from Delta last year and it was redeemable online.  I would hope that hasn’t changed…

  • TonyA_says

    Watch out – Delta has just UNBUNDLED your SEAT!

    Hope you know about the new Delta Economy Unbundled Fares called Basic Economy. Enjoy the restrictions, below:


  • TonyA_says

    No reason to change. As long as you have that 13 digit  e-cert # (like an e-ticket #) that is Delta’s (006) + 066 (for e-certs), then you are fine.

    I think the OP got confused because the electronic credit voucher is actually printed on paper (like a boarding pass size). But there is a 13 digit # on the right, below.

    Unless she received some other type of paper voucher, then there is a place to enter the e-cert when you pay for your booking online. No need to call and pay a $25 booking fee.

  • bodega3

    Your last line is right on!
    Remember, most business travelers are traveling on their company’s dime so I tend to turn off on their comments.

  • SoBeSparky

    There is common sense, and then there is greed.  You can make a case for each piece of checked luggage costing the airline more, and displacing possible income from air freight in the cargo hold.  So quite rationally, the airline charges for it.  But in the contract it should also make some reasonable guarantees, instead of insisting it will arrive “sometime soon.”  That is greed.  

    Common sense is that everyone will have a need for drinking liquids and a need to carry on a piece of luggage or bag.   So the fees geared to carry-ons and buying a bottle of water are simply price gouging.  Greed.  

    The latter is simply another hidden fee, applying to well over 90% of the customers.  Hence it should have been revealed in the advertising, not hidden.  The round-trip fare should say “$99 each way, round-trip required, with fees of $25 to $75 per bag, carry on or checked, and refreshments costing at least $2 to have drinking water.”  Then most would figure out their cost is probably more like $202 each way. 

  • Chasmosaur

    Yeah, there is that.  I just used to live near the terminus in Lorton, VA.  It always comes to mind when people tell me they are driving to Orlando :)

  • Chasmosaur

    Re-read the post:

    “At the luggage carousel in Detroit, everybody else on my flight picked up their bag and left,” she remembers. “After an hour my bag had not shown up, so I went to the baggage claim office. The gal asked me: ‘How long has it been?’ When I said an hour, she said: ‘It’s only been an hour? If it doesn’t show up in two hours, you come back and tell me.’”

    That’s what I meant.  I’ve had a bag or two lost in my time.  No one – even Delta – has given me this response.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Raven, you crack me up…

  • Rose Arnold

     Give me a break.  Airlines nickel and dime passengers every way possible, including charging for luggage, because they want their fares to appear lower in their ads.  And now two airlines are charging for a carry-on.  It will cost you from $10 to $30 to take your standard carry-on on the flight and $35 if you don’t pay in advance.  So, for a long trip or one in which you have to a carry sports equipment bag, you could easily pay $175 round trip for two checked bags and a carry on. 

  • Joe_D_Messina

    a) Be told what the limitations of the service are: your bag might not turn up on the same flight you do
    b) Expect that the bag is going to be ready for collection in a timely manner at the destination

    That part of the OP’s  letter confused me. Not sure exactly what happened with her checked bag. If it were on a different flight, I’d have expected the employee to tell her that and have a good idea when it would be arriving. Instead, the “check back if it’s not here in 2 hours” sounds like they had no clue where the bag was and it might have been lost between the plane and baggage claim.  Also, I thought there were rules that checked luggage had to be on the same plane as the traveler because of security concerns.

  • emanon256

    Now that’s scary, sounds like the “Fly or Cry” fares airlines issue on Expedia.  I don’t know the details on these, but a gate agent I was chatting with told me about them and said they refer to them as “Fly or Cry”.  She said a lot of the “Un-Published” fares on Expedia have no residual value if unused, cannot be changed, and a seat can only be assigned at the gate.  If they are oversold, or the person is late and misses the flight, then they get nothing, no re-accommodation, nada.  The ticket is used up.  She did say they often will try to rebook people if they are truly IDBd, but that they don’t have to on them.  It really shocked me. 
    Tony, maybe you know more about these fares?  I have never actually purchased one, and plan to never do so.  But I could see someone trying to save money, buying one and getting screwed.  I wonder what would happen with the new Delta fare if they can’t accommodate someone.

  • TonyA_says

    Oh sure that kind of sloppy work can happen. Flyertalk is full of those kinds of horror stories.
    One guy posted that it took 90 minutes to get his bag at DTW  http://www.flyertalk.com/forum/17665989-post10.html

    I think it has something to do with very little competition in Detroit. She did have UA and AA options for ICT-DTW but one is undergoing merger pains and the other is bankrupt. Choose your poison.

    This is not the only thing that’s broken in America. I really don’t expect much more from them. But so far, I have been impressed with Southwest here in LGA.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Oh this is priceless!!!!!!!!!

  • Sadie_Cee

    Or charge it to her credit card.

  • y_p_w

    To be fair to most airlines, they’re not making money selling bottled water.  Most of the carriers still have complimentary beverages on board.  You could certainly purchase a beverage sold past the secure area that you could take on board, but that’s going to to an airport concession and not the airlines. I think it’s also possible in most airports to bring along an empty bottle and fill it at a water fountain. I haven’t really tried it yet, but once you’re past the security, I’ve never been checked to see if I “had liquids”.

    Now the bag fees are something totally different. The fees are the same regardless of whether or not it’s a short haul flight or cross-country. I understand that there’s a fixed cost, but there’s also a cost to transporting the bags. Air freight is generally charged for travel distance.

    I noted that TSA’s liquid restrictions coupled with baggage fees has made it difficult to bring in a simple beverage to drink on board, or perhaps a bottle of wine or liquor as a gift or for consumption at the destination. It used to be simple. I traveled light and just stashed it in my carryon, and wrapped a bottle in my clothes. Then the TSA liquid restrictions kicked in, but at least I still had at least one free bag (and probably two) so I’d just check in my bag. Then finally most airlines started charging $15-25 for the first bag, and I just said to heck with it and left the bottle at home. I’m not going to pay $25 just to bring over a $10 bottle. Maybe I’ll do it if I’m flying Southwest.

  • emanon256

    Your right about bags being free back then, but the bit about airlines charging because the TSA will not allow it is a little too conspiracy theory for me.  I personally believe it was because 1. People were asking to pay less if they didn’t check, and 2. Anything they sell as an add-on is subject to a lower corporate tax rate.

  • Crissy

    Cheap flyers asked for cheap fares, not for unbundling.  The airlines dropped the prices so low they couldn’t pay their bills and decided to unbundle to make more money – hence it’s the airlines faults.  

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Yeah, that part was pretty galling. Knowing a bag was missing should have allowed them to make a call and start tracking it down. Instead, the plan was just to hope it showed up on its own? And, since they apparently hadn’t done the paperwork for a delayed/missing bag, it sounds like the OP was basically hostage at the airport until the bag appeared.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Me too!

  • Chasmosaur

    Oh, I hate checking a bag through to DCA. Average wait is usually 30 minutes and I’ve had it take up to an hour or more.  That isn’t the problem I’m talking about here.

    The issues is the bags arrived from her flight, except for the OP’s. After waiting an hour, Delta told her she had to wait another hour to file a lost bag complaint.  *That’s* unacceptable.

    Delta lost my bag during the NWA merger transition on a flight to MSP (so also little competition since that used to be NWA’s HQ hub).  The staff couldn’t have been nicer about getting the process started, and the carousel had only just stopped spinning minutes before. 

    Customer service training needs to be consistent.  That’s not happening here.

  • bodega3

    Give you a break on what?  Customers asked for the unbundling.  ‘I am not checking luggage so why shouldn’t I get a discount off my ticket?”.  “I can’t stand the food so I don’t want it, just give me that amount off my ticket?”.  The airline’s listened, saw a way to appease and also make more money.

  • bodega3

    So it is which came first, the chicken or the egg? 

  • emanon256

    I will have to try that next time :)

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    If you actually looked at my profile properly you’d realise I’m CTO of a firm that builds operations software for moving planes and people around within the aviation industry, for business aviation predominantly which means it’s actually more complex in some cases than for civil airline setups with established rotas, etc. I know more about logistics inside airports than 80% of staff working for an airline do.

    You however work for Delta, and *hate* that we all hate Delta. Your attitude is typical Delta.

    There is nothing wrong with working for an airline. I love the attitude that many people who work for airlines have. What I hate is the constant assumption from some airline staff (read: Delta staff and you), that the customer is at fault and there was nothing anybody at the airline could do other than be sarcastic, condescending and rude.

    Your post on this that the customer is at fault for not reading small print and the law and that they MUST have brought an oversized bag with them, is not in the spirit of customer service: if that was your mother, would you not understand she isn’t going to read the COC, and she just did what she was told and still got treated badly?

    Oh, and FWIW and FYI, financing airlines with “tax dollars” is pretty much illegal in Europe as is any other state subsidy of any other private enterprise.

  • emanon256

    That rule is only for international flights.
    I think in this case, the OP just got a lazy employee who couldn’t be bother to look it up, and just assumed her bag was on the next flight.  There is no excuse for her laziness.  It could be the bag was on the next flight, or it got stuck somewhere, or it was simply sitting behind the entrance to the conveyor.
    I remember one time I had a bag not show up, and I had to wait for 5 angry people complaining about minor marks on their bags.  It took an hour to wait for all 5 irate people to chew out the baggage rep.  Finally it was my turn, he scanned my tag, said the bag was on my flight, and opened the door, my bag had fallen off at the mouth of the conveyor and was just sitting back there and he brought it right out.  I felt so badly for this guy because of the way those people treated him.  And one had a bright white leather bag that now had a slight dark scuff; I am surprised her bag wasn’t in worse shape. I kept thinking “What type of idiot would check a bag like that?” He ended up giving all of them $150 e-certificates, white bag lady was pissed and wanted $1,000 cash to replace her bag.  Again, no excuse for the OPs baggage person, she should have looked it up and not told her to wait 2 hours.  But baggage agents get a lot of abuse.

  • TonyA_says

    Now of course, Delta still has to follow the DOT Rules on Bumping (Denied Boarding). For for anything else, watch out! Here is the penalty rule:

                 NOTE –
                  OTHER TICKET.
                  THIS RULE.
                 NOTE –
                  STANDBY IS NOT PERMITTED
                  SAME DAY CONFIRM/SDC-
                   IN FARE.

    You said it – Fly or Cry. Remember this IS a published fare so you will see it on Delta’s website.
    Buyer Beware.

  • Sadie_Cee

    Saw it done once at MIA by Air Jamaica (now defunct).  There were mountains of luggage at the gate, the flight was four hours late.  PAX would not cooperate with requests to check luggage, so four agents went through the crowd and ruthlessly seized and removed bags.  Never heard any instructions about labelling so I wonder if some people were ever reunited with their luggage.

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    One heck of an assumption. ICAO says the largest carry on luggage has to be within certain parameters: 56 by 26 by 43cm IIRC, although most airlines bring it in a bit from that, typically 50x20x40cm normally, or thereabouts.

    Nobody, and I mean *nobody* at an airline is going to let something bigger than that into the cabin. It’s potentially dangerous. So, you’re making the assumption she is at fault, when it’s most likely the overhead bin catch just snagged on it. It happens sometimes – especially if the bag moves inflight at all and a handle has wrapped itself around the catch somehow.

  • Lindabator

    AMEN!   These are the same folks who’ll book a suite at the Grand Floridian at Disney, but want to fly for $29 roundtrip, and DO NOT PAY for the luggage – why, when they can just inconvenience all of US by bringing it on board! 

  • Sadie_Cee

    How is this for going above and beyond the call of duty?  On arrival at MCO, one bag did not appear.  Everyone else had gone and the member of my party whose bag it was became very anxious.  We went to the baggage claim desk and were informed that all baggage had been removed from the flight.  The woman left the desk and returned with us to the carousel area.  She said the only thing that could have happened was that the bag and become stuck in the chute.  She climbed up into the chute, found the bag, dislodged  it and started it on its descent.  I should mention that she was wearing a skirt and heels that day.  We were grateful indeed for this extra service.  Never seen anything like this!

  • emanon256

    I am curious why you think Tony works for Delta?  He has been posting on here for a long long time about what he does as a travel agent, and always does his homework to make sure correct information is posted.  He has called me out plenty of times as well, and I appreciate his honesty.

  • emanon256

    And funny how you are calling Tony out for a change you made to your profile after his post.  Just saying.

  • Lindabator

    LOVED IT!!!!

  • TonyA_says

    As lame as this might sound, that kind of talk from the baggage lost and found person might be accurate.

    While I have never had to claim delayed bags at DTW, even if that used to be NWA’s hub to Asia so it was “mandatory” for me to use it.;)
    Now, Delta as a nonstop from JFK to NRT so I don’t need DTW anymore. Nevertheless, I remember at one time, I tried to inquire about my delayed luggage in LGA. To be honest, the floor leading to the room was jam-packed with luggage that I couldn’t even walk to and get to the room. The lady just shouted to me “WAIT LONGER”. Ok.

    I’m surprised many Americans still expect HIGH QUALITY service when they are (1) not willing to pay for it, or (2) can’t [themselves] really do a fundamentally quality job (that a FOXCONN Chinese kid can do assemblying an iPad or iPhone).

    Lousy baggage handling is not the only thing in DECLINE here. I’m to the point I only expect to arrive alive in one piece from point A to B. I’ve lowered my expectations.

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    My Disqus profile pointed to my twitter profile when you click on it, which he could have clicked on in 3 seconds before trashing me.

  • Lindabator

    No, he doesn’t.  But since you don’t normally post here, of COURSE he must work for Delta.  Head’s up – he is a travel agent, and very knowledgeable about such things. 

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    Because I can’t understand who else in the World would defend Delta for shocking customer service, other than a Delta employee.

    Of course if he is an agent, and he sells a lot of Delta flights, that might be another reason.

    But in essence, his defence of the indefendible is just staggering. And that’s what I expect from Delta.

  • TonyA_says

    A Delta employee living in Stamford, Connecticut? Maybe Atlanta. Nice try.

  • Lindabator

    Just because you post here ONCE, you think you of which you speak – you don’t.  Tony is NOT an employee of Delta, he is an independant travel agent, so knows his stuff.  Unlike you – so don’t post your “opinion” as if it was the word of God – you are not as knowledgeable, and do not get it at all.  Stick with your private jet sales.

  • Lindabator

    ‘Cause this guy has never posted here before, obviously.  And the inof HE is posting is not fact, merely opinion.  But heaven forbid Tony state a little thing like FACTS!

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    He might know the COC inside out and he might know the policy, but does that mean it’s *right*? That it’s defensible?

    It’s utterly absurd to defend customer service like this, and that’s what we’re talking about.

  • Lindabator

    Don’t get that either – reported it immediatley in DTW when they didn’t have mine – they delivered to my home later that day!

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    OK you don’t work for Delta.

    So explain to me exactly how you think this is a sensible set of policies that people should expect.

    You’re in the service industry, you understand customer services, how many of your customers read COC and DOT rules? How would you feel if a member of your own family was treated this way?

  • Lindabator

    When is the last time YOU flew commercial???   This happens all the time, and has NOTHING to do with dangerous items – has to do with folks wanting to take their whole closet with them!

  • TonyA_says

    According to Wikipedia:

    As a result of the deal, the French government’s share of Air France was
    reduced from 54.4% (of the former Air France) to 44% (of the combined
    airline). Its share was subsequently reduced to 25%, and later to 18.6%.

    Hmmm, even my kids read wikipedia.

    No government financing or subsidy, yeah baby !

  • Lindabator

    I know – and being based in DTW, I can only hope my clients are smarter – and will take MY recommendation!

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    I fly commercial most weeks. I normally fly BA who have bins at check-in and at the gate carry-on luggage must be able to fit in if it’s to be boarded. If it won’t fit, it’s checked at the gate. It’s not just BA who do this, I’ve seen it with other airlines. If Delta don’t do it, well, it’s just another sign of how little Delta carea.

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    Share ownership does not imply subsidy. The scenario you describe means the French government take money OUT of Air France in the form of share dividends, not put money IN (which is what is required for it to be a subsidy).

    The French taxpayer therefore benefits from this (it’s revenue in the treasury, not outgoings), as opposed to their money being spent on the airline in the form of a grant/loan/etc.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I’m not sure which has me more entertained – the comedy of errors related to the OPs luggage issues or the comments here.  I’ve been laughing at them all morning!

    But…  I feel Delta needs to return some baggage fees.  Yes, they DID get the OPs luggage to her but it sure wasn’t in the timely manner we’ve all come to expect.

    I also feel all these fees are the airlines working as hard as they possibly can to separate us from our money to increase their profits.  I’m all for profits and I don’t feel any company should operate at a loss but when I start feeling more like an ATM than a customer, something’s wrong with the system.

  • TonyA_says

    Dear CTO Paul Robinson,
    You say you “know more about logistics
    inside airports than 80% of staff working for an airline do”.

    Well let me tell you something Mr CTO –  I have a graduate degree in America’s oldest technological research university and I worked in FedEx (including logistics group) for almost a decade before I went on my own and formed my own company.If you think YOU are better than FedEx folks in logistics you are probably dreaming.Also, I couldn’t find any of your papers in AGIFORS. Maybe it’s just my weak eyesight. But, if you are anybody who is brilliant in OR/Logistics for airlines, maybe you would have published something there.Your friendly TA from Connecticut.:-)

  • ExplorationTravMag

    Careful Paul – if you dare to disagree with some of the posters here, they tend to make you their target and will post an angry, disagreeable response to EVERYTHING you post, whether you’re right or not.

    However, thanks for taking the heat off me.

  • TonyA_says

    My family has had (very) delayed luggage often. We expect it to happen so we prepare for it. We also carry a day’s worth of clothes on our hand carry.

    I’m not losing sleep over delayed bags – especially a 2hr delay.

  • TonyA_says

    I notice it happens more often on connecting flights, especially if you are on a small airplane (that might bulk out).

    Anyway, as you said, report it and they deliver at home.
    This has happened to us many times so I don’t bother to wait much longer. I just give them our address and they deliver.

    Maybe the guy (contractor) delivering to our house shares his fee with the baggage handlers? :-)

  • TonyA_says

    Believe me MOST Americans love it when airlines don’t use the sizer. They can save $25 in check in fees. 35 bucks for the 2nd one.

    Also in the USA we rely on the FAA to make the safety rules (not necessarily ICAO).


    The maximum size carry-on bag for most airlines is 45 linear inches (the total of the height, width, and depth of the bag). Anything larger should be checked.

  • Sometime_flier

    I’ve actually seen this at ORD. I was returning to IAD on United back in November, the Monday after Thanksgiving, and some guy came to the waiting area with a bag that was huge, clearly larger than any overhead bin would ever accommodate. A gate agent told him he would have to check it or he couldn’t board. He threw quite a fit, insisting that nobody at the ticket counter had told him he couldn’t bring it onboard (which could certainly be true, but any nitwit should have been able to see just by looking that it was too big!), but she stood her ground and he ultimately caved. It was nice to see things work the way they should have!

  • TonyA_says

    Also Paul, I wonder if you remember when they first opened up LHR T5. BA lost thousands and thousands of bags! Then they allowed 2 carry-ons without question.

    You guys in the UK are experts in logistics but the T5 experience says otherwise.

  • djp98374

    I’m also an ops research/applied math person….you two need to play nice.

    I agree with Paul on the premise that you pay to check your bag there is an implied expectations it’s there with you at the end of the flight. if not then you get your money back. Alaska airlines has such policy.

    As for Tony, he doesn’t work for the airlines but understands the logistics to know the issues in the system.

    As for writing papers…I’m not interested in that stuff..if I did then I’d work as a university professor. Writing papers doesn’t make you some expert.

  • TonyA_says

    Those in AGIFORS are experts. I worked with a number of them.

  • Carchar

    I’m surprised Daddy didn’t have to sit with 2 children. I thought there would not be enough oxygen masks for Mommy and 3 children should there have been an emergency.

  • MarkKelling

    Sorry Paul, but I fly regularly on multiple US based airlines and NOBODY checks luggage size anymore.  If you get it through the TSA security checkpoint it gets on a plane.  I have seen people drag more luggage on a plane, such as extra large suit bags, as carry on than I could fill with everything I own.

    On the other hand, when I fly European airlines I have actually had my carry on weighed at the gate and been told I could not take it on the plane because it was too heavy. Luckily I was flying 1st and had a spare bag in my luggage to split things up and the two bags were then acceptable.

  • Cybrsk8r

    So, let me get this straight.  If you buy one of these fares, the airline can just say, “Sorry, we sold too many tickets”, and just leave you standing at the gate, with nothing, and keep your money.  I don’t care where you’re from, that’s illegal.

  • emanon256

    The airline would first ask for volunteers since they are overbooked.  And from what Tony posted, they still have to follow the rules for denied boarding.  So if they are oversold and have can’t find volunteers, and this person gets denied, they would get compensated or re-booked.  However they agent told me some of the non-published are not eligible, they are literally space available tickets, but they are ultra-cheap.  As the saying goes, sometimes the cheap comes out expensive.  I would rather pay more for an advanced seat and not press my luck.

  • TonyA_says

    There’s a good explanation to this delayed baggage problem

    Take a look at the typical Delta flight schedules from ICT to DTW. Here are some of them for tomorrow. Notice there are NO DIRECT FLIGHTS. You either connect in MSP or ATL.

    05APR-TH-1A ICTDTW(ICTDTT) CT ET                
    1*S#DL4802   ICTMSP- 600A 750A  *8 CRJ 0E
    2*S#DL2198      DTW- 835A1121A   8 319 0E
    3*S#DL 948   ICTATL- 630A 933A   7 319 0E
    4*S#DL 748      DTW-1055A 105P   8 332 0E
    5*S#DL4802   ICTMSP- 600A 750A  *8 CRJ 0E
    6*S#DL 881      DTW-1020A 107P   9 320 0E
    7*S#DL 948   ICTATL- 630A 933A   7 319 0E
    8*S#DL1082      DTW-1220P 222P   9 737 0E

    Let’s assume that the OP took the MSP route. Look, further, at the INTER arrival times of MSP-DTW. See how they are spaced about 1.5-2 hours apart. Note: flights from ATL have a similar pattern.

    05APR-TH-1A MSPDTW(MSPDTT) CT ET              
    1*S#DL2240   MSPDTW- 615A 902A   9 757 0E
    2*S#DL2198   MSPDTW- 835A1121A   8 319 0E
    3*S#DL 881   MSPDTW-1020A 107P   9 320 0E
    4*S#DL 142   MSPDTW-1135A 223P   9 319 0E
    5*S#DL 883   MSPDTW- 155P 440P   9 320 0E
    6*S#DL2014   MSPDTW- 330P 616P   7 757 0E
    7*S#DL 887   MSPDTW- 525P 814P   9 M80 0E
    8*S#DL 946   MSPDTW- 730P1016P   9 320 0E
    9*S#DL 570   MSPDTW- 930P1209A#1 9 320 0E

    Now consider the possibility that the OP had a tight connection in MSP and her bags did not make it on the same flight she was taking.
    Ask yourself this question – “would her bag most likely be in the next flight about 2 hours later”?

    Airlines are NOT required to do Positive Passenger Baggage Match (PPBM) for domestic flights unless it is from/to DCA (the seat of absolute power). Therefore, your bags do not have to travel in the same flight as yours.

    That’s probably why the Baggage Assistance personnel asked someone who had access to the Delta’s Baggage (Scanning) System. They knew it was on the next flight and told her to wait 2 hours after her arrival. What’s the point of making her fill up a PIR form when the bag was arriving an hour later after she complained?

    This brings about another point – so many of you jumped to nasty conclusions without even considering that the lowly paid baggage attendant was correct. Maybe you are wrong and she was right.

  • TonyA_says

    Joe, they probably saw the bag scan on the next flight. Hence the 2 hour wait. It was not lost.

  • TonyA_says

    Also remember you are in the bottom of the totem pole with these E-class fares. If a lot of folks need to be reaccommodated, you might end up sleeping in a seedy motel.

    However, at least you earn SkyMiles and MQM on PUBLISHED E-class fares. What a consolation? ;-)

    The biggest issue is people need to know how to SPOT these E-class fares.

  • TonyA_says

    According to my flight schedules, the last plane out of ATL for ICT departs at 830PM (DL1187). Since she stayed overnight in ATL, then she missed this last flight. If she was flying DTW-ATL-ICT then her flight would have likely been:

      #DL 101   DTW ATL    535P EM  740P    S  757
      #DL1187   ATL ICT    830P  S  947P       319   ATL   DD   35

    If she was flying on Delta’s 757 then there might be a problem shoving bigger luggage in the overhead bins that are pretty “short”.
    In fact seatguru gives this warning on some of DL 757s:

    Overhead bins on this aircraft are small and can only accommodate two average-size suitcases and must be placed sideways.

    If so who is to blame? The overhead bin or the passenger?

  • flutiefan

     that wasn’t what you were talking about when you made it personal.

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    FAA rules are derived from ICAO standards, same the World over and true for everything from overhead bin capacities to the size of the lettering on the apron signs. Having read the ICAO Annexes I can see why – who would want to reinvent that pile of turgid nonsense? – but I also don’t see the point in doing that if nobody is going to actually implement it properly. The sizer is there for a reason – if airlines aren’t using them, no wonder there is chaos on boarding… :-(

  • flutiefan

    “Nobody, and I mean *nobody* at an airline is going to let something bigger than that into the cabin. ”

     i’m an airline employee, and even i have to LOL at that.

    although i personally (and many of my coworkers) do try to stop the Overhead Bin Hogs, we see customers on every airline bringing things on that would never fit in the box. many agents just don’t want the argument (not that it makes it right, just stating why).

  • flutiefan

     not “nobody”, Mark! i do!

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    That was a storm in a teacup, LHR T5 was not tested enough before it went live and there was much finger-pointing. Since that first week though, it’s one of the best systems going (allegedly).

    The OP’s point stands though, if the customer hadn’t been treated badly whilst her sister was driving around outside waiting for her, she wouldn’t have felt the need to cram into the overhead bins and all of this could have been avoided.

    Blaming it all on a stupid and/or ungrateful customer to me sounds like a real lack of compassion and understanding relating to her needs. The industry needs to do better than this.

  • flutiefan

     can you explain the success of the most heavily unionized airline in America, then?  since unions are the bad guys, after all, and you say they’re causing all the airlines to go out of business.  just wondering what your response is to actual facts and not opinions? (pssssst…. it’s SWA, by the way, who is the most unionized)

  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    Seems like the confusion here then is a cultural one. I wouldn’t dream of trying to get through check-in or security in Europe (where I do most of my travel) with anything outside the regs, as it would just get binned at the airport most likely.

  • flutiefan


  • http://twitter.com/p7r Paul Robinson

    We’re going to have to agree to disagree: I still maintain it’s the airline who should have dealt with this. The customer bought a ticket, expected a moderate level of service, reasonably expected in the 21st century to not have to spend 2 hours researching the conditions/law relating to the travel service, and then got talked to as if she was a moron when things went wrong. It’s just not how service companies should work. I know you disagree, but there we are, it’s where we both stand on this.

  • TonyA_says

    The ICAO numbers you gave us earlier is even bigger (larger) than the FAA number. Now if I use the FAA size and check in with Alitalia or go try to enter HKG airport departure zone, I will be in trouble. That’s why I have 2 sets of handcarry. One I use in domestic USA and another (smaller and lighter) for Europe and Asia.

    In reality, in the USA, you can take whatever you like as long as it fits the overhead bin and lift it yourself. However, if you fly one of our small regional puddle jumpers, they will stop you and gate check your big bag. (Probably steal your laptop or iPod if you leave it.)

    This why I said the airlines decide their own carryon rules. Usually based on PROFITABILITY.

    When I use Delta INTL to go to inner France, they usually put a sticker (CABIN BAGGAGE) before boarding in JFK. That is to alert Air France not to grab my carryon in CDG since AF (intra Europe and domestic) standards are a lot more stringent that ours in the USA.

    If you get to know me better, you will realize that I am not an airline apologist or shill. I do sell Delta because lots of my customers depend on its route. I never worked for them, though. Peace and welcome here to the board. Cheers, Tony.

  • Sadie_Cee

    You have said it loud and clear!  The Walmart example is so, so true!

  • AUSSIEtraveller

    next time travel light or pay the fees & stop whinging.

    Airlines are going broke all over the wrold esp in Europe & USA, partly due to high oil prices, but also partly due to bureaucracy.

    More rules, more costs & somone has to pay the costs & guess who that will be. Either passenger or airline goes broke.

    It’s really simple.

    Sometimes it’s good when airlines close down. It makes people realise that high wages/costs & low fares don’t mix.

  • http://twitter.com/BarbadosTrvlBlg Barbados Travel Blog

    The airlines can do a lot better and it sucks that you have to put laws in place to protect customers. The same customers that the airlines need to stay in business. It’s a simple A+B = C equation.

  • TonyA_says

    Isn’t this the reason why USA carriers publish a Contract of Carriage and a Customer Service Plan as required by US LAW. The moderate service you are talking about is published there.
    If you want them to UPGRADE their commitment then fine that is your opinion.

    You might not agree with the CONTENTS of these documents, but that’s the way we do business in America. This information is easily accessible from the airline’s website. No one is forced to fly Delta. If they want free baggage, there is always Southwest and JetBlue. My family flies WN and B6 whenever we can for domestic flights. Cheap and good.

  • TonyA_says

     It ain’t that simple.

    Warren Buffett on Investing in the Airline Industry:
    “… despite putting in billions and billions and billions of dollars,
    the net return to owners from being in the entire airline industry, if
    you owned it all, and if you put up all this money, is less than zero.”
    STUDENT: “Mr. Buffett, what prompted you to make an investment
    in USAir given the fact that this is such a cut-throat industry,
    and certainly not transparent and easily understandable?” 

    MR. BUFFETT: “Well, I think probably the best answer is temporary

    “If there had been a capitalist down there [at Kitty Hawk the day the
    Wright brothers made their first flight] the guy should have shot down
    Wilbur!  I mean … [audience laughter].  You know… one small step
    for mankind, and one huge step backwards for capitalism!” 

    “But anyway…. So along comes 1989 and I’ve got a lot of cash. 
    And no one misled me in any way shape or form.  And I mean this was
    100% my decision [to invest in USAir].  And I put money in it. 
    Seth Scofield [CEO of USAir at the time], you can’t find a better human
    being or manager than Seth Scofield, but he is operating with revenues
    based on market factors and cost that are not based market factors, and
    that’s a recipe for a lot of trouble.”

    “So I now have this 800 [telephone] number, and if I ever get the urge
    to buy an airline stock I dial this number.  And I say my name is
    Warren, and I’m an “air-o-holic,” and then this guy talks me down on the
    other end [of the line]….”


  • MarkKelling

    OK.  Then you must be the exception these days.  Glad somebody still checks.

  • TonyA_says

    Mark, with WN’s 2 FREE BAGs, wouldn’t bringing in a huge bag seem over the top?

    WN incentivizes the crew for ontime and early departure. These folks take pride in their unique  boarding scheme (and won’t let an oversized bag get in the way).
    This is the reason why no other carrier cycles their aircraft more than WN. They fully understand the effect of carry-ons on turn around times. (Allowing 2 free bags is not only good for customer service, it is also good for operations.)

    Please read the charts from Boeing

    IMO this is the only airline (and perhaps B6) that gets IT.  No surprise Southwest has been profitable (despite 2 Free Bags).

  • Ann Lamoy

    I had an instance once when I was flying back East to visit family-SEA to BTV. When I got to BTV and waited at the carousel for my bag, it didn’t appear. When I went into the baggage claim office to fill out the paperwork, I happened to turn around and my bag was sitting right there. Apparently back at SEA they had scanned it on an earlier flight that connected through DTW (about an hour before mine got in). I hadn’t wanted to book that because it was winter and the connection was too tight. I was afraid if the weather was the least bit bad in DTW, I would miss the connection. So my bag made it to BTW before I did. :-)

    I LOL for a couple of days over that. (It was Delta btw)

  • Ann Lamoy

    I still check my bag. Mainly because I hate trying to shove it into the OHB, drag it out and down the plane aisle. I do routinely fly Delta and just two years ago got an AMEX Skymiles card simply for the benefit of getting the checked bag free. I’d still check even if I didn’t have the card.

    I fly often enough that it pays for the yearly fee. (and the places I fly to, Delta is usually the cheapest option for me. Wish I could afford a better option but unless my employer decides to start giving out raises that barely cover the COL, that isn’t going to happen.)

  • bayareascott

    The way they should have?  Why should the gate agent have had to put up with some idiot’s “quite a fit”?  If you tell 10 people to check a bag at the gate, 8 of them will practically throw tantrums.  No one should have to put up with that, and yet it goes on every day.  When are some of you travelers going to speak up when the guy next to you starts ranting and raving?  But you’ll bitch plenty when a gate agent is not “doing their job” and making people check their bags.

  • TonyA_says

    Ann, it also happened to me once. I found my bag in the middle of the floor after all the bags in the carousel were gone. It got there before me (on an earlier flight). That incident taught me to scan the bags at the floor before the carousel begins to go around.

    What happened to your bag and my bag just shows that  in the USA, there is no guarantee your bags will travel in the same flight with you.

  • TonyA_says

    Perhaps Delta can learn from y’alls Ryan Air or EasyJet. The words compassion and Ryan Air also don’t go together.

    BTW Delta gave her a $400 voucher and a free night’s stay. What would European airlines do? I don’t believe they will do more for delayed luggage since they will invoke the Montreal Convention. EC261 won’t compensate you if you miss a connection because you got you own luggage stuck. In fact, it the EU she wouldn’t have been able to get a large carryon into the cabin.

  • Steve_in_WI

    I think it’s absurd that airlines aren’t required by law to refund baggage fees if the checked bag doesn’t show up on the same flight. The fact that they eventually got the bag to its owner is not good enough.

    Reading about Ms. Duram’s experience with Delta gives me a new appreciation for Southwest, even when they lost my bag. I went to the baggage office after waiting about 15 minutes for my bag to appear (it was pretty obvious that all of the bags from the flight had arrived), and the person I spoke to was sympathetic and immediately got the lost bag process started. I would have been livid if she’d just shrugged and told me to wait around for another 2 hours. I also got what I felt to be fair compensation for the lost bag in about 6 weeks. I still don’t understand how a bag can simply disappear, but at least Southwest seemed to want to do the right thing once it did.

  • Sometime_flier

    No, actually, I *don’t* bitch about things when they aren’t necessarily by the book or not to my liking or whatever, thankyouverymuch. It happens. I just roll with it.

    I didn’t say gate agents should *have* to take that sort of behavior, but the sad fact is that it happens because there are always people who think the rules don’t apply to them. That still doesn’t mean it’s up to me or anyone else not in an official position to get involved.

  • Lindabator

    No – we are also discussing what she was/was not entitled to.  Tony is just pointing out the facts – you don’t have to like them, or even agree with them, but you do have to aknowledge them.  The fact that customer service reeks today – that’s neither here nor there in this case.

  • Lindabator

    SHOULD be being operative here – as I’m sure YOU well know as well :)

  • Lindabator


  • Lindabator

    Again – I think he likes comparing apples to oranges, Tony.  Just forget about it.

  • Lindabator

    NO NO – the cancellation/no show referred to above is one made by the PASSENGER, not the airline.  If the airline cancels a flight, you are still covered.  This is just a bare bones ticket that you HAVE to use for that day, that flight, with NO pre-assigned seat(s), and cannot whine about it later.  (Guess we’ll see about that here sooner or later)

  • Lindabator

    Right – I think he saw the cancellation/no show above and misunderstodd – THAT refers to a cancellation/no show by passenger, not the airline.  If the airline has to cancel, all regular coverage applies.

  • Lindabator

    Actually, I did see something online that you can purchase a package which gives you the abaility to collect miles, so still confused on that point.  Either way – it is a nightmare!

  • TonyA_says

    Linda, Delta E (Economy Basic) published fares will earn 100% Skymiles and MQM. That’s the consolation prize.

  • jim6555

    My memories of flying on People Express do not include having to pay for checked bags. I believe that the first US based airline to institute this policy was Allegiant Air. In 2008, I paid $6.00 to check a bag on an Allegiant flight from St.Petersburg, FL to Greenville, SC. I paid this amount online. The cost would have been more if I had paid at the airport on the day of travel.

  • Daves

    “I’ve lowered my expectations.”

    Nah. You just made them more realistic.

  • Daves

    Understandable. If anything, a challenge is how to balance customers’ expectations with whatever available resources, especially if they’re arguably stretched beyond what they’re willing to bear.

  • y_p_w

    I don’t know if you would trust Wikipedia articles, but the article there claims that People Express charged $3 per checked bag on certain flights.

    American was definitely charging for the first checked back as early as June 2008.