If you’re in Zone 5, here’s why you should pack light

Africa Studio/Shutterstock
Africa Studio/Shutterstock
Next time you find yourself with a boarding pass that says Zone 5 or Group “C,” or whatever designation your airline uses to say you’re the last to board, please remember this story.

It comes to us by way of Kathleen Colduvell and her boyfriend, David Dimm. A few weeks ago, they were flying from Philadelphia to Tampa on US Airways.

“We were only going for the weekend, so we each had one cabin-approved carry on,” says Colduvell.

Alas, halfway through the boarding process, a gate agent announced that the overhead bins were completely full. By the way, there’s a good reason for that: Passengers carry more onboard now in an effort to avoid the $25 fee for the first checked bag. Also, they don’t want the airline to lose their luggage.

“The attendant at the gate quickly went around and tagged all the bags while the other attendant scanned tickets and then gave us little paper handwritten luggage receipts,” she remembers.

And that’s when it happened.

As we were getting medicine and cameras out of our carry-ons, the attendants went around again and grabbed all of the carry-on bags and took them down the runway to have them loaded on the plane.

We told the attendant that we needed to get things out of bags, but he didn’t care. At this point he was already down the runway and out of sight. I tried to go after him but was stopped because my ticket had not been scanned at the gate.

Another US Airways forcibly gate-checking luggage story? Oh no.

Here’s what happened next:

When we arrived in Tampa we got our bags at the baggage terminal and my boyfriend noticed that his cell phone charger and camera were not in his bag.

He could not contact US Airways because his cell phone battery was dead and his charger was missing.

When we got back to Philadelphia, he went about contacting US Airways and filing the paperwork needed to attempt to have his camera and cell phone charger replaced. He called them several times, but was either disconnected, hung up on, or they told him to fill out the paperwork online.

They denied his request for compensation because he was told that electronics were not covered and they were not held responsible.

This last-minute scramble experienced by Colduvell and her boyfriend isn’t unusual. We had the same issue on a recent US Airways flight from Orlando to Phoenix. In our case, we made a terrible mistake, allowing our passports to be checked in luggage that was tagged for Edmonton, Canada.

Fortunately, US Airways found the luggage in Phoenix, retrieved the passports, and we were able to cross the border.

So I believe Colduvell when she says she felt rushed. But based on her account, I think she may have surrendered her luggage before realizing that a charger and phone may have been left in one of the bags.

I asked US Airways to review Colduvell’s claim and its denial, and in revisiting the case with her and her boyfriend, it turns out that they didn’t fill out the paperwork immediately because they thought it was possible that they’d left their cell phone and charger at home.

They didn’t. Someone took the cell phone out of their checked luggage.

US Airways, like all major domestic carriers, doesn’t accept liability for electronics in checked bags. It also requires all claims for lost or pilfered luggage be made within 24 hours of a flight.

I’ve seen airlines bend the rule for electronics, but only when a bag is forcibly gate-checked. If you wait more than a day to file a claim, it can be really difficult to make any headway.

Here’s how US Airways responded:

As you have noted, our policies require that claims for lost items are made within 24 hours of arrival. This policy is designed to reduce fraud and speed resolutions for our customers.

Also, as you noted, electronics, jewelry and other valuables are not covered by our policy. All customers have the ability to remove these items before bags are checked. I realize in the press to board at the end, this process can be hurried.

Having said all that, we stand by the denial of the claim and apologize for the inconvenience. I know this isn’t the answer you wanted, but it is consistent with other claims and we don’t see a reason to make an exception in your case.

I’m not happy about moving this into the “case dismissed” file, and I might not have had to if a claim had been made quickly. I guess the takeaway is: If you’re in Zone 5, pack light.

Should US Airways have turned down Kathleen Colduvell and David Dimm's claim?

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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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  • jon

    Just check your bags people. $25 is not that much in the scheme of things.

  • technomage1

    Wait – if the airline makes me check the bag, then they’re liable for everything in that bag. It doesn’t matter if it’s electronics, wine, or gold doubloons. End of story to me.

    Since there is not enough room for everyone to have a carry on, if a flight is full, why not offer a free meal coupon or some other comparatively small incentive item for people to voluntarily (at no cost, of course) check their bags? And enforce the size restrictions. My meets regulation bag should not be moved to accommodate someone’s massive suitcase.

  • technomage1

    I agree for clothing items. But some of us carry laptops or other devices that should not be checked.

  • djp98374

    This is why it needs to be FAA mandated that one bag checked is free on any airline.

  • Mary Ramsey

    here is my policy- if your bag looks like a suitcase (meaning something they will ask you to gate check) then either pay 25 to check it or be prepared and remove all important items while you wait for boarding.

    OR have a carry on that CANNOT be gate checked- a cheap looking backpack, a beach bag held together by rubber bands, etc– they will not ask you to check a bag that they KNOW will get damaged. I have my lap top wrapped in clothing (yes this means i have to unwrap it when i go through TSA)- but it has never been damaged or forceably gate checked.

  • bodega3

    I won’t pay to check my luggage…period!

  • y_p_w

    You get one carry-on and one personal item per passenger. That’s in addition to a lady’s purse and/or a diaper bag. I typically bring along a laptop carrier as my personal item, and it’s large enough to carry any small electronics like chargers. I don’t leave any kind of electronics in my carry-on, because I’ve had a forced gate check-in on short notice when we were the among the last to board.

  • Guest

    And as reported in the story, they won’t be responsible for when the TSA screeners get a hold of it.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    The FAs are hurried because they don’t get paid until wheels-up. And the passengers don’t push back because they fear denied boarding from an angry FA. US Airways can’t have it both ways. Either they allow enough time to pull out valuables or the accept full responsibility for the forced check.

    I *have* found that US Airways is more lenient on wheel-less soft sided bags. I have been allowed to board with a soft side while wheelies are gate checked. And I usually under-pack just in case I have to jam the whole thing under the seat.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    It’s never been about the money. I don’t want lost luggage, I don’t want to wait 45 minutes to claim my luggage, and I don’t want to lose control of my belongings.

  • http://ladylighttravel.com/ LadyLightTravel

    The FAs are hurried because they don’t get paid until wheels-up. And the passengers don’t push back because they fear denied boarding from an angry FA. US Airways can’t have it both ways. Either they allow enough time to pull out valuables or the accept full responsibility for the forced check.

    I *have* found that US Airways is more lenient on wheel-less soft sided bags. I have been allowed to board with a soft side while wheelies are gate checked. And I usually under-pack just in case I have to jam the whole thing under the seat.

  • Grant

    “He could not contact US Airways because his cell phone battery was dead and his charger was missing.” Really… and no other phones in Tampa? I think it more likely the OP simply didn’t know that a suspected loss must be reported to US Airways within 24 hours. Who would? Could be worse, though. I just checked with my airline of choice, Southwest, and found that losses have to be reported to them within FOUR HOURS of arrival of the flight. That stinks!

  • Alan Gore

    A forced gate check means that the airline should absolutely be liable for any losses. We need to slam them with legislation, if needed, to assure that this happens.

    If we were to do so, my prediction is not that airlines would step up and assume responsibility, but that forced gate checks would magically disappear.

  • Alan Gore

    The luggage in question has already been TSA checked. Why doe sit need to be checked again?

  • DavidYoung2

    Whew — for a minute I thought a post would go by without somebody blaming the TSA for pimples, global warming or some other nonsense. Good to see somebody filled in the “ridiculous and improbable” TSA-bashing. Two days ago the TSA was creating crowds of people in line, thus subjecting them to a terrorist suicide bombers (because we never line up for anything that doesn’t involve the TSA, right?)

    Now somehow the TSA is involved when as a passenger goes to board a plane the FA ‘gate checks’ their bag. Even though the FA or gate agent walks it straight to the jetway door and hands it off to a baggage handler who immediately stows it in the plane — TSA never gets near it. No matter – the TSA is to blame!

  • DavidYoung2

    I’ve found that putting valuables in my briefcase or backpack that can pretty much always be carried on (you know, cell phones, wallets, camera, etc.) is just plain common sense. Oh, and your passports should go there too :-)

    One thing bothers me about this story is why would you put your cell phone in your wheeled luggage? Charger, OK, but look around today. Everybody, and I mean everybody, has their cell in their pocket, purse, backpack or easy reach. It’s possible they put it in luggage that and it wasn’t handy enough to just grab out of it, like in a front zippered pouch, but it doesn’t sound like what the vast majority of people do. That and the ‘didn’t realize it was missing’ bit sounds fishy. Don’t most people know pretty darn quick if they cell phone is missing or if they brought it with them? Everybody I know pretty much has a heart attack on the spot if they notice it missing. Just one too many things that doesn’t seem right here.

  • Cybrsk8r

    Laptops, by law, cannot be checked baggage because of the battery. The average lithium-ion laptop battery, fully charged, has the equivalent explosive force of 1/4 to 1/2 of a stick of dynamite. About five years ago, Sony and about a half dozen other laptop makers recalled several million laptop batteries due to manufacturing defects. These batteries would appear completely normal and then, without any warning at all, simply burst into flames.

  • NJgirl13

    The problem is that it was the cell phone CHARGER and camera that was missing, the cell phone itself was out of battery. (from her words, Chris later changes it to the cell phone and charger) If she was right, I can see thinking, did I pack the charger or not.

  • sirwired

    This sounds like a job for the DOT. They may not be able to force the airlines to check a single bag free, but they should completely remove the item-type restrictions from liability on force-checked bags, and also greatly increase the liability limits.

    But until that happens, ALWAYS carry a backpack of a size that will fit under the seat and hold all the super-valuables that you’d otherwise put in a roll-aboard. (Yes, I know that for some people, that can’t happen…)

  • Guest

    Yeap. Just like some TSA apologist will jump on, what did you call them, TSA-loonies was it? Oh yes. Here it is… “But then, with the TSA-loonies…”

    I will admit that the comment did not come out as I intended. That’s the problems with replying using a cellphone and being really tired. The comment was suppose to been to jon’s comment about just paying the $25 and checking your luggage in. Thus subjecting your luggage to those oh so perfect and upstanding TSA officers who never steal or damage any of the luggage entrusted to their care.

  • http://twitter.com/johntbaker John Baker

    I was cheering for the OP right up to the point that they failed to report the loss upon finding it. You might think you left a cell phone charger behind but a camera , cell phone and charger out of one bag… Nope. I also don’t buy the airline employee snatching their bag away. Sorry but no one is taking my bag until I’m ready to give it up. I don’t see a gate agent walking through the boarding area snatching bags. Personally I always have a “go” bag as part of my carry-on that has everything I don’t want under the plane. Depending on the trip, it might be a separate bag, a bag inside my carry-on or I actually have one that splits. As I said above, no one is getting my carry-on until I have the “go” bag with me (takes 30 sec).

  • http://twitter.com/johntbaker John Baker

    @ypw Both DL and UA (the two airlines I fly), allow one carry-on & one personal item. UA allows a diaper bag in addition to that (https://www.united.com/CMS/en-US/travel/Pages/BaggageCarry-On.aspx ) but DL does not. Neither airline allows a purse as an additional bag. In fact, DL uses a purse as an example of a personal item (http://www.delta.com/content/www/en_US/traveling-with-us/baggage/during-your-trip/carry-on.html )

  • jim6555

    “He could not contact US Airways because his cell phone battery was dead and his charger was missing”. In Tampa, US Airways has a baggage services office that is only a few feet away from the baggage belt.

  • backprop

    “As we were getting medicine and cameras out of our carry-ons, the
    attendants went around again and grabbed all of the carry-on bag”

    Really? While your arms were physically in an unzipped, unlocked bag, the bags were forcibly removed from you? And they got all the way down the runway (sic) before you could say anything?

    No, this customer obviously changed the story afterwards to make it seem as though they didn’t want to keep their electronics in the bag. I don’t buy it.

    But, lest I be coldhearted, I think a customer in a similar situation can face frustration and difficulty. So here’s my tip that has not failed me in 20 years: In your roll-aboard, put all your electronic items, medicines, must-haves, and an extra pair of underwear in a small backpack. Put the backpack on top. If you’re ever put in this situation, reach in, grab your backpack, and know you can gate check with less fear of going without a critical item.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    While I’m sorry that the OP is missing items, I can’t muster a great deal of empathy for the situation.

    1) When these situations occur, the gate agent makes an announcement and tells people that their baggage will be checked through to their destination or it will be gate checked. That announcement gets made over and over again and then the personnel start walking through the gate area. I always see people absolutely oblivious and surprised that *their* baggage can’t go with them on the plane. That must have happened here – how long does it take to get a cell phone out of a bag? As another poster said, 30 seconds?

    2) I’ve never seen any gate personnel literally yank a bag away, with the zippers unzipped, while the passenger’s hand was still in the bag fishing around. Yet the OP’s story is that something like this happened, since she says they were in the process of removing things when the bag was taken. It’s more likely that she didn’t realize what was in the bag until it was leaving her sight, since the bag had previously been tagged some minutes before, according to her story. See my point #1, again.

    3) Maybe her boyfriend had a dead cellphone – but c’mon, what about *her* cell phone? Phones at Baggage Claim? Phones at her lodging? As another poster said, no phones in Tampa?

    4) Oh, and now we’ve got the “maybe we didn’t pack them after all” excuse for not reporting the loss. Umm. The OP completely lost her credibility at this point. Maybe the charger and camera are still at home somewhere, maybe they were stolen – she’s not a very reliable witness on her own behalf.

    I voted “YES” to US Airways turning down her claim, based on my pre-caffeine analysis.

  • cjr001

    If the airlines are going to do this rush-job on checking bags at the gate, then they need to take a helluva lot more responsibility and liability for what happens to those bags.

    And 24 hours to make a claim? There’s only one reason for that: to shoot down as many claims as possible.

  • Guest

    How much are you getting paid, David, to defend TSA at the drop of a hat?

  • cjr001

    Before enforcing size restrictions, then need to enforce that everybody must put a bag under the seat in front of them if it’ll fit.

    I don’t like to use the overhead bins, but when I have to wait for a woman to take her PURSE from a bin to put under her seat to make room for a bag, then there’s a problem that the airlines are ignoring.

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

    I do the same thing, except I carry a little foldable tote. I can put my bag in the overhead bin and just take out the tote with what I actually need for the flight without having to stuff anything into the seat pocket where it may be forgotten.

  • Karen

    Am I the only one who is thinking that US Air is being WAY to blasse’ about the thieves that they have working for them? This sounds like an every day occurence – “well, we warned you that it would be stolen!” How about checking all employees as they exit work and procecuting them for theft. THAT would send a message to any potential sticky -fingered employees in the future.

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

    They probably didn’t check until they got to their hotel, is my guess.

  • Michael__K

    While your arms were physically in an unzipped, unlocked bag, the bags were forcibly removed from you?

    They gate checked 2 pieces of luggage, and they must have had jackets and small bags. It would not be too surprising if they were shuffling contents around and searching for space to put the additional items.

    I’ve had the experience myself where someone tried to take one of my bags that wasn’t ready while I was dealing with a different bag.

  • Lisa Myers

    I never check a bag but always put all of my valuables and electronics in my “personal bag” that fits under the seat in the event of a possible gate check. I think passengers need to take responsibility and travel ready. You don’t really want your vital medications (etc.) in a bag that you might be separated from, do you, even temporarily? Also it is important to be sure that your “carry-on” is really within carry on size requirements.

  • Letsfly

    Since the airlines are up-charging for nearly everything they can think of, here’s an idea that I would GLADLY pay for: a reserved space In the overhead bin -directly above- my assigned seat. You can rent a space for your wheelie bag and know all your stuff’s going with you. You wouldn’t have to be amongst the crush of people insisting on being first onboard. Imagine for a few extra bucks you could actually have a leisurely boarding experience!

  • Neta

    I think the only people wrong in this case is the couple. Why would you leave valuables in a carry-on suitcase that is going in the overhead bins? Wouldn’t you put that stuff in your purse, closest to you at your seat? I don’t even think about putting anything valuable in the overhead bins because I don’t trust anyone around me. The couple knew they were going to one of the last to get on the plane so be prepared – the gate agents give you plenty of time to board. This country/world is full of ignorant people.

  • Julie Sturgeon

    If airlines would enforce their own rules and make people put one bag up and ONE UNDER THEIR SEATS, they wouldn’t have this problem in the first place. I had to gate check a camera bag one time because some a-hole refused to take his coat and little briefcase (could have still stretched out his legs even with it under the seat) out of the overhead bin, and the flight attendant just shrugged her shoulders.

  • Lisa Myers

    That is kind of how it works on Spirit Airlines, right?

  • eileen

    Its close, but I do file this under “travelers should know better by now.” Electronics go in whatever bag you are fitting under your seat. You do not ever separate yourself from your medication or your electronics. The folks that work at the airports are not honest, your stuff gets stolen, and the airlines do. not. care. They should know better than to expect the airline to look out for them.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Everybody should have one of those. I use one of those reusable shopping bags. Can’t tell you how often it comes in handy.

  • PolishKnightUSA

    When I travel, I charge every piece of electronics I own before putting away the chargers. Interesting caveat: My wife’s mobile phone takes a strange AT&T/Ericson custom cable (really annoys me) while my own uses a standard mini-USB connector. I love it because it’s the same as my company blackberry and plugs either into a wall socket adapter or a computer (and charges off of the computer.)

    So if I’m running low on battery, I can run find some tech saavy people at the terminal and borrow their adapter as well (this is usually the same as for kindles, portable cameras, etc.)

  • pauletteb

    It would also be helpful if the FAs would keep an eye out for bin hogs and make passengers with carry-ons that fit under the seat place them there instead of the overhead. Also, no one should be allowed to place a coat or hat in an overhead bin unless there’s room after all carry-ons have been accommodated. You sit on your coat in your car, you can do it on a plane.

  • pauletteb

    A lady’s purse is not “in addition to” that one personal item; it IS that one personal item.

  • pauletteb

    And here you go, as usual, attacking anyone whose comments don’t drip anti-TSA vitriol. Get over yourself!

  • Joe_D_Messina

    I can’t tell you how many gate announcements I’ve heard in my time that were completely impossible to understand, even if you were intently trying to hear what they were saying. And it’s never a given that anything will be announced multiple times. You’re at the mercy of the individual employee and what they feel like doing, which at times is very little.

  • http://elliott.org Christopher Elliott

    This comment has been flagged as a possible violation of our community standards. This verges on a personal attack. I’m letting it stand, but let’s not go down this road today. Thank you.

  • old

    Sorry, “US Airways” says it all…!

  • pauletteb

    I agree. My valuables/necessities are in a bag that fits under the seat in front of me. There are too many stories about items being stolen from overhead bins, especially when you’re unable to place your carry-on in the overhead near your seat because some moron in the back of the plane has already taken the space.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agreed. I go up and ask the gate agent what was said, but that’s me. However, the OP had received the baggage tag some minutes before the bag was removed from her possession, so she must have been aware *something* was happening.

  • Jayson

    US Airways anticustomer support at it again. They’re too big to really care. Their alliance/partnerships whatever they want to call it does not work and should be broken up to free market run again and/or produce more regulation. Good people are getting blasted with the flight costs and incidental charges from an airline that makes billions in profits. If they are too rich to care then they risk the government stepping in and shake things up and they aren’t going to like it.

  • ClareClare

    There’s a second takeaway here (although many/most of us knew it already): if you really have to fly, USAirways is worth avoiding at all costs…

  • Michael__K

    Irrespective of US Airways’ baggage liability policies, removing items from luggage is a crime, and that deserves to be investigated as a crime.

    I’ve said before: IMO all baggage handling activities ought to be videotaped. Then US Airways would either have some evidence that no theft took place, or they would have the evidence they needed to terminate and prosecute a criminal employee.

  • ExplorationTravMag

    I’ve had to gate check my carryon and every time I’ve been told, “Make sure there’s nothing of value in the bag” by a gate attendant who stood patiently while I did so. Other times, I was prepared for the possibility and had already gotten my stuff out I didn’t want lost or stolen.

    However, the point needs to be made that there are people on flights who believe all the overhead bins belong to them, period. I was behind a family of four who each had two carryons. Talk about annoying, standing behind them as they juggled 8 little suitcases. That’s someone who should have been asked to gate check.

    On another flight, I was the last to board due to a late connection. Just as I got to my seat, I noticed the space in the overhead was empty (YAY!). I bent over to put my backpack/camera bag in there when the young girl in the seat behind me jumped up and shoved in there her coat and a dried flower arrangement. The FA asked her to take them down and put them under the seat in front of her, to which the girl agreed and made a move to stand up. The FA, believing it was taken care of, walked away, and the young girl didn’t take it down, giving me a smug look in the process. I started to put my backpack/camera bag up there and she said, rather frantically, “You’re going to crush my flower arrangement!” I shoved my bag in there harder and said, “Well, then, you must feel really silly right now.”.

    I get so tired of overhead bin hogs…

  • Nancy Nally

    This is why I always carry a bag that will fit under my seat that contains all of my valuables – camera, computer, iPad, medications. And I don’t book a seat assignment that doesn’t have under seat storage. They can forcibly gate check my rolling bag – and have on several occasions – but can’t touch my computer bag!

  • http://twitter.com/johntbaker John Baker

    Agree like 100x

  • Charles B

    There’s one bin above your row of three seats. How does that work out for the people sitting next to you?

  • mbods

    Wow, see why we don’t fly anymore and vacation close to home? Why are passengers allowed to bring so much carry on luggage that the bins get filled up halfway through boarding? The entire airline industry is so obviously against their customers, geez, it’s such a shame. I do believe they really hate us….Who remembers when air travel was glamorous and travelers were treated as though they were welcomed and special? It wasn’t that long ago….

  • ExplorationTravMag

    And yet, pauletteb, I have men tell me all the time, “Airlines don’t include a woman’s purse as a carryon!”

    I always give them a blank stare and say, “Okay.” *Shrug*

    It makes me a little nuts, now, to hear that so many times, after being told, time and again, by the airlines I fly on, “Your purse is your personal item” and plan accordingly.

  • Guest

    Just as you seem to jump on any post not singing the praises of the TSA. You are the one that needs to get over them self.

  • Linda C. Snyder

    This may seem too simple. I NEVER put ANYTHING of value in my luggage. It goes in my backpack, that easily fits under the front seat. Cameras, phone, passports etc. I do not have to worry about zones etc. because I know my meds etc. will always be there with me!

  • Christina Conte

    Just last Friday, my daughter and I were the last to board an AA flight from Reagan (DC) to LAX (LA) so when the gate agent told us we had to check our bags, I didn’t complain; since we were the last two to board, I figured as much. However, once on board, I was furious! There were so many bins near our seats which could have easily accomodated our two small carry-on bags! I admit, I’ve not seen this happen too often as most people do carry on way more than allowed, however, it seems simple enough for the gate agent to check with an attendent who is on board before deciding on a whim that our bags needed to be checked. Once we were on board, it was too late to do anything. One airline lost my son’s luggage by gate-checking his bag, which like the OP, caused days’ worth of problems and hassle! A little communication goes a long way, but this just goes to show that many of the airline staff and agents just don’t care.

  • Dutchess

    I totally agree, if that bag is being checked I’ll be damned if I hand it over to anyone BEFORE I remove the valuables in it.

  • Lisa Myers


  • Christina Conte

    I agree, DavidYoung2, when I read the original story, it just sounded bizarre to me. A bag being taken whilst they were getting things out of it? Cell phone charger and camera in a wheeled bag…NO ONE does that! I was stuck without a phone in Union Station once, guess what? I borrowed someone’s phone! Everyone has one!! Yes, I think this complaint is rife with inconsistencies…

  • Erich Berger

    Who leaves the electronics in the overhead bin in the first place? Perhaps Elaines’ boyfriend from Seinfeld, who just sits on a flight and stares at the back of the seat? Mine are in a small pouch in the seatback in front of me, ready to be deployed. I usually board early, and I don’t enjoy standing up in the aisle rooting around looking for anything I might need once we reach altitude, and risking an errant umbrella, Disneyworld souvenir or other random item dropping out and skewering a fellow passenger, or worse yet, their child. 99.8% of these issues can be laid at the feet of the passengers. The “I’m a victim of the airlines” syndrome is wearing thin, especially in the area of carry-on baggage. If you don’t know the drill by now, or are a newbie and don’t want to listen to the crew or their announcements, then you are too stupid to fly. This is not your own personal flying experience. It’s happening to all of us. We are all in this aluminum tube together, and the group-think is “let’s get off and get there, on-time.” So exercise some personal responsibility, straighten up, and fly right!

  • AgSweep

    The caption suggests I should pack light in response to my boarding zone? You have to be kidding me. As a infrequent flier I am already behind the elites who receive benefits because they have spent more money in the past with the company, the people who choose to have a branded credit cards who get special boarding and luggage privileges and anyone else who the airline chooses to place in line in front of me. So for the one flight a year I will take on this airline I am pretty much the last to board, my seat is in the middle and it is unlikely that my carry on will fit in the overhead. This is regardless of whether I paid the least possible or the highest possible amount for my coach ticket, (excluding paying extra for a better a seat). Now you want me to pack less? I think you really mean, pack smarter.

  • y_p_w

    I looked into it and technically that seems to be the case with most airlines. My wife’s bag is actually small enough to fit in my laptop bag and she typically doesn’t bring anything else.

    Nobody has tries bringing on a bag in luggage?

    Heck – I remember when coming home from a convention, some of my coworkers working the floor asked me to bring home some fragile electronics and to not check them in. I had two rolling size carryons and they didn’t bat an eye. They told me it would be so hectic that nobody would care. I also had two bags of schwag and all that stuff went under the seat.

  • dave3029

    What am I missing here? He couldn’t call when he discovered the items missing because his cellphone had a dead battery and no charger – – what, there are no other phones in the state of Florida? No other way to call the airline but wait until you get back home days later? Really? I’m not buying this.

  • Boomer Traveler

    One thing I have not seen mentioned are the early boarders who are seated at or near the back of the plane but put their carry on items in the bins at the front of the aircraft. This is unnecessary and selfish, as it requires later passengers to either sit farther back or put their luggage farther back and then have to wait to deplane until they can retrieve their luggage.

    And by the way of specifics regarding electronic items, we purchased a Black Leather Companion Pack (by Alpaca) from Amazon ($17) a few years ago that has worked wonderfully. It is relatively small (10″x 8″x3″), but holds our chargers, phones, our camera, and even our GPS with the dash mount and cables. Fits easily under the seat in front of us, and could accommodate a 7″ tablet.

    And once we’ve arrived it doubles nicely for site seeing. We store our camera, cell phone, GPS, passports, plus two emergency rain ponchos and two 16 oz water bottles. I also like the shoulder strap better than an around-the-waist type. Just an option for those who care …

  • Lori Heathorn

    Not suprising that the passengers had their items stolen. A forced gate check bag is a prime target for light fingered baggage handlers.

  • Deborah Orth

    When we take Amtrak My Husband & I can each check 2 bags into the Baggage car for FREE as long as each is under 50 lbs + when you claim your luggage to must show your claim check to prove that you are taking YOUR luggage.

  • John Keahey

    TSA had nothing to do with this customer issue. Why raise it?

  • Vec14

    I’m guessing the OP doesn’t fly much, or at least doesn’t fly US Airways much – in my experience, US Airways tends to make announcements even before boarding begins that if you are Zone 4 or Zone 5, you’ll most likely have to gate check your bag. On most planes, it’s a matter of numbers – there simply isn’t enough room in the overhead bins for everyone to bring a 22x14x9 bag on board. Airlines could solve this by A) limiting the number of carry ons to one total per passenger B) Reducing the size of carryons allowed C) charging for carryons or D) allowing one free checked bag. I’m guessing A or B would be what the airlines go with.

    My solution has been to pack light and try to get everything into one bag – a backpack that’s still under the legal size. It’s not about avoiding the $25 charge, it’s about avoiding the wait to pick up bags, or avoiding having bags lost, damaged, or stolen from (I’ve had all three happen).

    If the airlines forcibly gate check, I think their liability should increase as well, but we as passengers also need to be responsible.

  • Guest

    It was meant as a response to jon’s suggestion to check the luggage to start with which only changes the problem from dishonest airline employees to dishonest TSA ones. So even checked, you still have the problem.

  • Joanne Esler Firby

    Nice for you, but sometimes it is. Travel with your family, and suddenly it’s another $100 for the privilege of handing over your unlocked bags. No. Each of us has one carryon and one “purse”. I’ve been training my kids to keep valuables, electronics, and necessaries (like meds) in their purses. And to pack carefully.

  • emanon256

    I am clapping for you!!!! Down with Bin Hogs!!!

  • scapel@suddenlink.net

    That would be my reply

  • ExplorationTravMag

    That was definitely a good day… ;-)

  • jim6555

    I guess that hotels no longer have phones in their rooms. Oh well.

  • http://upgrd.com/roadmoretraveled MeanMeosh

    Actually, the more likely response would be the institution of a carry-on fee for anything too big to fit under the seat to discourage people from bringing carry-ons in the first place, a la Spirit. This is the airlines we’re talking about, after all.

  • StarKiller

    A purse is a personal item. A diaper bag or a bag with medical supplies can be in addition to that.

  • bodega3

    A diaper bag, if you are traveling with an infant is not considered part of your allowance as it is for the baby. In the US,with the exception of Spirit Airways, for no fee, you are allowed one carry on, that meets the allowed dimensions for your flight, plus one personal item, which can be a purse, a computer. a camera and this personal item must be able to fit under the seat in front of you. Food, in a small bag for consumption is also allowed. I have been denied entry into security with three bags, my roll on and two plastic bags, so this isn’t just for boarding. My third bag is usually a pair of walking shoes that I want quick access to once I get through security since I wear flip flops to the airport but I now have to place them in my luggage and take them out afterwards. It never use to be an issue, but at SFO it now is as twice I have been stopped.

  • bodega3

    On my last AA flight in November, the FA’s were annoucning no more room in the overheads, but I was in the back and the bins were still open and empty.

  • bodega3

    Just go back to allowing one piece of checked luggage per person and a lot of these issues will go away!

  • EdB

    One thing I never see mentioned often with discussion about overhead bin space is the problem has been made worse by the airlines decreasing the seat pitch. They put more seats on the plane but can’t increase bin space to go along with it. As a result, there is a shortage by design.

  • http://www.myitaliantravels.com Mark S

    I become more and more outraged every time I fly when seeing people taking full sized suitcases on the plain when they know it is not a carry on and even more so when the flight crew just let them. a carry on is a carry on and a suitcase is not a carry on and how these people keep being allowed to take them on the plane is beyond me. Each over head bin is supposed to be for the people sitting under that section not for anyone who whats to use it.

  • Joe_D_Messina

    Assuming they make an announcement at all! We walked up to our gate once and sat down–gate sign was still saying the flight was on time, all kinds of people just sitting around waiting. I was close enough to the gate desk to halfway overhear a passenger talking to the agent. I told my spouse “I think she just told him the flight has been canceled.” We waited a little bit, thinking if that was true, she’d surely announce something, but she went back to doing nothing. I got up and asked her, and she calmly tells me the flight had been canceled and if I wanted a headstart on being rebooked I should get going before everybody else found out. I have no clue when she planned on making an announcement, but she still hadn’t done so by the time we were out of earshot.

  • pkipnis

    Another reason to avoid USAirways or whom ever’s name they flew by. Luggage sitting on the tarmac is fair game for any of a hundred people who have access to the area. You might try calling the police at the departing Airport and see if you can make a report over the phone, citing the cabin person who took your bag as the perp who took your bag against your instructions.

  • frostysnowman

    I would have taken the coat and flowers out of the bin and handed them to her after the FA left, I’ve done that to people in similar circumstances.

  • frostysnowman

    I hate that, too. I saw that happen on a flight last year, with the permission of the flight attendant no less! I told the flight attendant how unfair I thought that was, and so did a couple of people behind me. But the FA didn’t move the bag.

  • Bill___A

    Something doesn’t seem quite right about this story. However, what needs to be said is that airlines have a responsibility to enforce those carry on size restrictions, and to make people use the bins (and under seat space) where they are, and not stick the stuff in other people’s areas. They also need to address theft issues. If airports and airlines are supposed to be so “secure” how come so much stuff is stolen?

    I’ve seen it where the airline does enforce this (seldom) and times when it is abused (usually).

    However, every traveller needs to ensure they can put their valuables in a bag under the seat in front of them in this case.

    I certainly wouldn’t let someone “grab” my bag with valuables in it. I do have the “bag within a bag” capability as some have mentioned and I would transfer things quickly but would not allow someone to grab a bag and check it before it was ready for them. If they are concerned about the plane taking off on time, they should be more careful watching those people with bulky items that go on the plane first. . I also been able to so far avoid US Airways, something that I expect to continue to do.

  • davidglass

    What? Are you even commenting on the right story?

  • technomage1

    Why should I put my large backpack under the seat in front of me, taking up all my legroom, for someone to bring on a suitcase above the max size? They’re the ones not following the rules, im not going to suffer for that. Now on the few occasions I’ve flown with the pack and a personal item too, that personal item goes under the seat if the plane is full.

  • Charles Owen

    Not all of us are as tethered to cell phones as you are. I carry mine on my belt, but when I get into the airport, before I board I turn it off and put it in my carry on bag. I may not get it back out until I get to a hotel in some cases, since I get off the plane and start moving out of the airport.

    I understand being upset about the camera, but the cell phone charger? Since they have standardized them, doesn’t everyone have a small collection by now? They don’t cost very much and I imagine there would be placed in the airport where you could buy one.

  • MarkieA

    Couldn’t agree more. However, watch that you don’t get too snippy with the FA trying to take your bags; next thing you know, you’ll be grounded for interfering with the flight crew.

  • MarkieA

    I think I’m in love!

  • MarkieA

    Like with insurance companies; they’re in the business of rejecting claims.

  • Guest

    But those aren’t FAs taking the bags. The OP was still in the terminal based on the story so it couldn’t be interfering with the flight crew. ;)

  • bodega3

    Just another good reason to go back to allowing one piece of checked luggage per passenger.

  • orsay

    Yes, the story does seem strange. Had to re-read it twice and still wasn’t able to comprehend it.. Did Road Runner just zip by before they could anything about their bag?!

  • shesells

    I am always the last to board as the spouse of an airline retiree, I have a small rollaboard from the flea market that fits under the seat, inside I have all of my stuff in plastic ziplock bags, the bags go inside of small lingere zippered laundry bags according to what’s in them, labeled with tags so I can if I have to pull out the things I need at the last minute involves no thinking.My computer, a cashmere shawl and socks ( they flatten to almost nothing) & a 3 compartment sports sac handbag with all my Id, wallet, etc. Fill the rest.I put my makeup in one side pocket and meds in the other, along with a folding umbrella.

    On board I use the bag as a foot rest, it’s scruffy , which I consider a crime deterrent and only on the tiny commuter airlines do I get hassled, but by taking the computer and shawl out it still fits under the seat…I also have a tote bag stuck into the back of the bag, just in case, in cold weather I can stuff my coat into it and use as a pillow, never needing to use the overhead…

  • Diane D

    Whenever I travel with my passport I check my purse about a million times. If it leaves my apt I don’t physically part with it. I also always have my charger in my purse thanks to my phone addiction.
    Electronics in general, I keep in my carryon or purse. What if they get crushed? It’s not worth the risk. Totally their own fault. And after the horror stories I hear about the bag checkers I don’t even feel comfortable leaving my nice shoes in my checked luggage!

  • http://twitter.com/karenbordner karen bordner

    Agree, she deserved a crushed flower arrangement and don’t even get me going about the coat!

  • Lindabator

    I think that’s what they mean – if you and everyone else only have one piece, no problem – its those with several, and WON’T use the seat in front of them who are selfish.

  • Chris

    The obvious question is: Why do the airlines employ thieves?