After travelling across the US several times in the last few years, two things have become abundantly clear: you could read a novel in the time it takes to get through security, and everyone has their own definitions of what carry-on luggage actually means.
The airlines themselves have plenty of guidance on their websites about what a carry-on should consist of, and it is certainly not isolated to the US, with Australian airlines following a similar trend. Yet this hasn't stopped passengers from trying to take wheeled monstrosities on board that look large enough to accommodate a full-sized goat, rapidly filling up the limited overhead compartments.
A few years ago, United Airlines implemented measures to enforce those rules by asking customers to pay a $25 excess to check bags too big to carry-on. Some airlines in the US, such as American Airlines or Alaskan Airlines, charge for all checked-in baggage. Most are included in premium fees, much as Jetstar does in Australia, asking you to either buy your baggage allowance or pay for a Plus ticket to cover the difference. Has this made things worse though? Does it just mean that punters are now just trying to squeeze their pack mules into the cabin for the sake of savings?
Here's a few pro-tips, or maybe just amateur pleas, to deal with carry-on and maybe save a few bucks:
- Roll, Don't Fold: If you're headed out for a small trip, is there anything you can't just stick in a backpack? If you do need to take a bunch of things on a short hop, bite the bullet and check in your bag. Otherwise, a change of clothes, some fresh underwear, toiletries and a phone charger should dictate the size of your carry-on.
- Prepare your carry-on: What do you actually need on the flight? On longer flights, you'll realistically only need one device, something to write with, your own headphones, a toothbrush, and any medication you regularly take. The airline's movie selection or the back of your eyelids will be what you spend most of your time watching. Don't bring everything you own on board with you. On short flights, whatever you'd take on a bus.
- Check the website: The airline will tell you what you can and can't take on, but be sure to actually check if your bag is the right size.
- Don't be a dick: There's nothing worse than getting to your seat and finding that all the overhead compartments have been taken. You'll wind up having to either put your bag in front of you, or worse, trying to walk a few seats back while everyone is trying to get off the plane. So just think of others when you fly: after all, you're all circulating the same air for a while, so don't be the one that makes it toxic.