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Airline gives passengers without roller bags priority boarding

By David Koenig

AP Airlines Writer

LAST UPDATED: 06:58 a.m. HST, May 17, 2013

FORT WORTH, Texas » If you're traveling light, you can board earlier on American Airlines.

The airline said today that people carrying just a personal item that fits under the seat — no rolling suitcases — will be allowed to board before most other passengers.

American said that the change will speed up the boarding process and allow flights to take off sooner, helping the airline improve its on-time performance.

Airlines have been seeing a buildup in boarding times since they began charging fees for checked baggage as more people fight for limited space in overhead bins.

American tested the new boarding procedure at several airports earlier this year and began applying it to all flights today. Passengers carrying just a personal item — a purse, backpack or computer bag that will fit under the seat — will board right after Group 1 premium passengers and before boarding groups 2, 3 and 4.

The airline said that it will let passengers check a carry-on bag at the gate at no charge. That means savvy travelers will be able to move up in the boarding order and avoid checked-bag fees — $25 for the first bag, $35 for a second on flights within the U.S. — although they'll have to retrieve their bag at baggage claim after they land.

Kevin Doeksen, director of customer planning for American, said the change speeds up boarding, because fewer passengers stop in the aisle to hoist a bag into the overhead bins. The difference is about two minutes per flight, "which doesn't sound like much, but it adds up throughout the day," he said.

If the change results in fewer big bags being rolled on the plane, it could reduce the number of flights on which the overhead bins fill up. When the bins are stuffed, gate agents or flight attendants must ask passengers in the last boarding group to surrender their bag for gate-checking — an awkward situation all around.

Competition for bin space has also made travel more stressful. Passengers in the last boarding groups often creep forward and jockey for position to be the first in their group on the plane.

"They're anxious because they've got a big roll-aboard (bag with wheels) and they're worried about having no space in the bin," Doeksen said.

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iwanaknow wrote:
Go idea, let's try it on some of the other airlines too?
on May 16,2013 | 11:40AM
inlanikai wrote:
So if I have a bag with wheels and I carry it onboard instead of rolling it do I board sooner? Dumb idea. I would hate to be the gate agent who has to enforce this, they don't even enforce the size restriction for any carry on baggage now!
on May 16,2013 | 11:55AM
Damia wrote:
It has to fit under the seat.
on May 16,2013 | 12:05PM
inlanikai wrote:
Ok, so that means that there needs to be an "under the seat" sizer at each gate, right next to the carry on sizer they don't use now.
on May 16,2013 | 03:35PM
inlanikai wrote:
And then when I get on board early because I just had brief case but then use, or try to find space in, the overhead bin because I want the legroom and slow things down, then what? People will always fimd a way to beat the system and overworked, under paid, under appreciated airline workers will eventually just not give a hoot.
on May 16,2013 | 03:39PM
E_Ogawa wrote:
You gotta read between the lines here. Essentially, the airline is saying, no briefcases, backpacks, purses, computer bags - which can fit under the seat in front of you - will be allowed in the overhead bins. You get to board first because you won't spend time loading the bins. In exchange for that privilege, you sacrifice the room under the seat in front of you that would otherwise be used for your feet. Of course this doesn't apply to bulkhead seats. But that's the gist of what American is doing.
on May 16,2013 | 05:48PM
bender wrote:
I understand what inlanikai is saying. There will be priority boarding for people who have the small carry ons but like he said, who is going to enforce it at the gate. Once you are on the aircraft and start putting your carry on in overhead storage, no one is going to kick you off the plane to reboard with those types of passengers. Right now they have size limitationis on what can be carrried on but it isn't being enforced. No one wants to lose business so they let the customers get away with just about anything. But the checked luggage fee creaed that problem.
on May 17,2013 | 05:45AM
inlanikai wrote:
Exactly. As a long time frequent flyer of AA, i assure you after a few months this will not be enforced once on board and at the gate the gate agent will be in endless discussions with people as to what constitutes a bag or parcel that should/would/must go under the seat vs. overhead. Nice idea and I would love to see it work, but in practice in won't. Neither the AA personnel nor the passengers will have the patience to abide by it. Did you know there is a size limit for ANY carry-on bag of 45 linear inches? That's what that metal sizer contraption is there for right by the gate. How many times have you seen it used? Now, think about how many bags you've seen schlepped down the aisle that measure greater than 22"x14"x9" in at least one dimension? From the AA site: http://www.aa.com/i18n/travelInformation/baggage/carryOnAllowance.jsp
on May 17,2013 | 06:13AM
nitpikker wrote:
no. it was created because people are too lazy to go to baggage claim to pick up their checked in luggage. AND you can throw backpacks, briefcases, etc. into the overhead bins BUT how often have you been stuck behind an idiot trying to fit his roller suitcase into a bin???
on May 17,2013 | 07:23AM
al_kiqaeda wrote:
"Passengers carrying just a personal item — a purse, backpack or computer bag that will fit under the seat" What's so hard about enforcing that? They aren't stopping you from bringing them on board. You just have to wait until the faster boarding passengers get settled in. Then you cheapskates that are trying to save a couple of dollars can lumber aboard and clog up the aisles.
on May 16,2013 | 12:33PM
Holomua wrote:
All carry-on's are supposed to fit under the seat. Why don't they enforce THAT?
on May 16,2013 | 12:43PM
kahuku01 wrote:
Carry-on will not fit under the seat whereas personal carry-on (purse, backpack, computer bag, attache case, paper sack) supposed to be placed under the seat but that is not the normal practice.
on May 17,2013 | 10:54AM
W_Williams wrote:
Great idea. I'm so tired of those bag rollers who take up all the storage space in the overhead bins. I get on the plane with my purse and a small carry on and there's no place for my carry on because the back roller hogs, whose seats are further back in the plane, put their bag in my allotted space so they don't have to take it to the back of the plane. T
on May 16,2013 | 12:48PM
mdok wrote:
I totally agree!
on May 16,2013 | 07:00PM
tiwtsfm wrote:
Just don't travel and avoid all of this nonsense.
on May 16,2013 | 12:57PM
KahinuG wrote:
It's a good idea and probably saves more than the 2-3 minutes Doeksen says it does. Why should someone with a personal bag that's gonna be stowed under the seat have to wait in the aisle while others stow wheeled carry-on in the overhead. The thing that ticks me off is when passengers come on with one carry-on and a personal bag (usually a large backpack that won't fit under the seat) and stow both in the overhead. Then when the overhead bins are all full they make like they don't know they did wrong. Then someone else has to check-in their carry-on forcing them to go to baggage claim to retrieve it.
on May 16,2013 | 02:28PM
DAGR81 wrote:
This will end up discriminating against the elderly that need bags with wheels.
on May 16,2013 | 02:44PM
sailfish1 wrote:
"The difference is about two minutes per flight" That is nonsense. Lots of flights are delayed much more than that all the time. Many times, planes even have to wait for other planes before they can get on the runway.
on May 16,2013 | 09:49PM
clum56 wrote:
Excellent idea!!!!!!! I hope that all airlines will follow this procedure.
on May 17,2013 | 04:54AM
bender wrote:
The airlines created this problem wihen they decided to start charging for checked luggage. Want things to go smoother at the gates, get rid of the checked luggage fee or make it minimal.
on May 17,2013 | 05:48AM
dontbelieveinmyths wrote:
How about charge for carry ons (big ones) and checked bags are free?
on May 17,2013 | 05:53AM
kahuku01 wrote:
IRTbender: Howz it bender and like you've said, "this problem started when they decided to start charging for checked luggage" and it turned out to be very profitable for the airlines. The thing about this whole concept is that people will always try to beat the system and try to get as much without paying any kind of fee. I've witness passengers using collapsable walking cane and using wheel chairs that really didn't require to use it, only because they wanted to board first. I can attest to this because while waiting at the baggage claim area for my relative, a woman (mother) on a wheelchair and her daughter was wheeled to the area and waited while the daughter gather the baggage and exited to the outside for a shuttle. The woman yelled to the woman through the sliding glass doors, from afar, that the shuttle was just about ready to go and to my surprise, the woman got up and started walking briskly towards the shuttle. No matter what the policy is, people will always try to beat the system and the heck with everybody else. The thing about this whole scenario, is that, if all airlines handle their baggage like Southwest Airlines passengers wouldn't have to figure out a way to beat the system.
on May 17,2013 | 06:54AM
nitpikker wrote:
wrong!! its because people are TOO LAZY to go to baggage claim to get their luggage!! just plain LAZY!!!
on May 17,2013 | 07:30AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Wrong! If you took a poll, people carry their over size carry-on and over-size personal (backpack) on to the plane, because of not having to dish out more money besides paying for their ticket and not because they're too lazy! When luggages weren't being charged, the over sized carry-ons and stuffed backpacks were not as many coming on board and filing the over head bins as it is today.
on May 17,2013 | 02:28PM
nitpikker wrote:
i applaud american airlines!! its sickening to watch idiots with humungous carry-ons boarding ahead of you because they DO slow down the boarding process because they struggle to stuff their LOADS into the overhead bins. AND they hog all the bins!!! every airline should adopt that rule!!!
on May 17,2013 | 07:15AM
kahuku01 wrote:
Like you've mentioned, "they struggle to stuff their carry-on (suitcase) and personal bag (stuffed back pack) into the overhead bins and people with legit carry-on cannot locate a bin close to their seats because those ignorant passengers have secured all the bins with their over size carry-on and personal bag (back pack.) Whose fault is it? The airlines employees at the check-in counter and the employees monitoring the boarding procedures. If the airlines monitor the baggage check-in and enforce their policy, passengers will be aware that specific airlines will monitor and enforce, and when rules are enforced, passengers have no leg to stand on to complain. It's the few that will try to beat the system and get away with it.
on May 17,2013 | 10:30AM
false wrote:
We were on a flight in Europe recently where the size of the carryon bag was checked when the passport and luggage were checked... and if it didn't fit into the little box, (which very few roll-on bags do) you were forced to check your big oversized "Carry On" bag as luggage. NICE.
on May 17,2013 | 09:21AM
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