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Old 06-08-2005, 05:11 PM   #1
missalf
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Default Forced to check carry on bag

Hi,

just found the forum and look forward to hanging around.



My husband and I were flying for pleasure from Dulles to MIA, with a connecting flight out to the caribbean for a week of scuba and sun. When we're on this type of trip we make sure to carry on all of our more expensive gear and items -- our carry on piece typically contains two regulators with dive computers, digital cameras, and a laptop. All these items comfortably fit into a carry-on rollerbag without issue.



We were in one of the last boarding groups and were told as we were handing our boarding passes to the gateperson that there was no room left for any carry on luggage and everything would have to be checked. I asked what type of increased lost bag value they were willing to provide, or what free protection they would provide since the contents of our bag were worth well over 5K, and was told none, that if I didn't check the bag we could not fly.



We'd flown AA many times in the past and had never been treated like this. I sent a number of letters to customer service and was pretty much told that they don't have to guarantee squat over the typical domestic reimbursement if your baggage is lost or stolen, and that yes, even they they were forcing me to check electronic equipment that they could not guarantee me that they would "cover" the electronic equipment they were forcing me to check!



Does this sound correct? Yes we have homeowners insurance on our equipment but that's not the point.



On another slightly different but related topic, why don't flight attendants enforce the carry on bag limits? That's why there was no space left for us -- and the plane wasn't even full.



Has this happened to anyone else? Did we have any other recourse other than to miss the flight?
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Old 06-08-2005, 06:09 PM   #2
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Default Re: checked baggage

Usually if it's gate-checked, they'll return it to you planeside or on the jetway. I think you can also ask them to let you see them put it in the cargo hold.
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Old 06-08-2005, 07:23 PM   #3
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I can look into this if you give me flight details and tell me how to contact you. That shouldn't have happened.
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Old 06-09-2005, 04:30 AM   #4
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AA should allow their gate agents / flight attendants to sell luggage insurance. Half joking here, but seriously, it would have put your mind more at ease and at the same time be a creative way to help their ailing bottom line.



From the AA website:



"At times, additional limits may be placed on carry-on baggage based on the main cabin stowage capacity of specific aircraft.

These limits may be imposed after the boarding process has begun.

Some carry-on baggage may be stowed in a cargo compartment on selected American Eagle aircraft.

At some airports, carry-on baggage may be more restricted. All other luggage must be checked at curbside or at the ticket counter. "



This cya statement allows them to pretty much do what they did. I've seen it happen many times for many disgruntled flyers. My advice is don't check in late, and try to get on the aircraft as soon as possible when they announce boarding.



Overbooking shouldn't happen either, but does all the time. Just as they offer free tkts/$ to people to get off flights, they could put out onboard carryon compartment space to the highest bidder :wink:
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Old 06-09-2005, 06:45 AM   #5
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Default Gate checked bag

As an ex-gate agent, having to gate check your bag is the safest way to have any bag checked. It is hand carried from the jet bridge to the aircraft, is last loaded, first loaded off and brought up to the arriving gate, and never has to be on a conveyor belt or baggage cart. In a situation like this, you can let the flight attendant or gate agent know that you would like to watch the ramp agent load it on the aircraft. This is easily done by looking out the window at the gate before boarding.



Next time if you have to have th equipment with you, I would suggest shipping it ahead of time to the resort and purchase adequate insurance in case it's damaged or lost.
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Old 06-09-2005, 07:21 AM   #6
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All, thanks for the replies.



Chris, this happened about two years ago, so I don't know how much help you can give relative to this particular incident, although perhaps a general investigation (column?) on this topic would be enlightening for a number of travelers.



I understand that gate-checked luggage is the safest way to ensure your baggage gets to your destination, but we had just come off a very unpleasant experience (also with AA) where our bags had been "misplaced" for three days (BWI to MIA to La Romana) and when we finally got them three days later they'd been rifled and we lost about $1500 worth of clothing, masks, wet suits, books, shoes -- they even took our deodorant and toothbrushes but left the toothpaste -- go figure. AA did reimburse us for all our lost items except for a cassette tape player -- stating they didn't reimburse for lost or damaged electronic equipment (hence, my worries over our dive computers, laptops, cameras, etc).



At the time I was annoyed enough to report the experience to both the customer service department at AA, and I logged a question with the DOT and my response, in short, was too bad, that the airlines aren't obligated to give you squat in terms of guaranteed carry on space, nor are they obligated to insure items above and beyond the typical limits, even if the circumstances match what I've described.



Here's the response I got from American:

[i]

Dear Ms. F:

We've received the email you sent to the Department of Transportation and I'm pleased to address your concerns. We would never force a customer to purchase extra insurance for a bag they are made to check but they may elect to do do if they feel that the contents are valued above the airline's limits of liability. However, our pilots, gate agents and our flight attendants can make the determination at any time not to

accept certain carry-on items - due to a full flight or the size and content of the bag. Therefore, we cannot guarantee that you won't be asked to check your planned carry-on bag again in the future.



I hope this information helps your future travel with us proceed more smoothly. We depend on our customers to let us know what is working and what is not. In the future, if you feel something deserves our attention, please email us via AA.com




And, from the Dpt of Transportation:

Ms. F,



Thank you for your recent message. Airline carry-on baggage allowances are not necessarily based on full flights, since most flights are not full. Occasionally, passengers whose carry-on baggage is within the published limits are asked to check a piece of carry-on baggage.



All checked baggage is subject to the airline’s baggage liability limit, even if the passenger had originally intended to carry on the bag in question. In international service, this limit is about $640 per bag at the present time. Many airline’s offer “excess valuation” that will raise this limit; this coverage can be purchased at the time the bag is checked.



Thank you for taking the time to contact us.



Tim Kelly

Aviation Consumer Protection Division

U.S. Department of Transportation




Nothing about our bag violated the carry-on size rules, there was nothing dangerous in it, it wasn't leaking, etc.



I guess at the heart of this is the question -- if this happens again (and we travel frequently with this equipment) do we have any other options available?



This should open the eyes of people who carry lots of jewelry, etc in their carry on luggage -- you're not safe either!



Anyway, thanks for all the responses!



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Old 09-05-2005, 10:29 PM   #7
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Hi,

I have seen this happen over and over again on several airlines, especially on the smaller planes (737, A320) when they get filled. If you're flying on an "Express" flight with even smaller planes you can be assured you won't be able to take 2 bags aboard, and since roller wheel bags rarely fit in the overhead bins of these planes the roller bag has to be checked at the gate.

If I'm taking checked luggage I always carry 2 carry-ons, one with roller wheels in which I take a change of clothes, toilet articles, medications, etc. In my non-roller carry-on I take my valuable stuff including photo gear, computer gear, etc. (My son and daughter-in-law have their SCUBA gear in their non-roller carry-ons.) Even on the "Express" flights I have never had to check the non-roller bag (or backpack, whichever I use according to the amount of gear needed) but have had to check the roller-bag on all "Express" flights. If I'm taking all carry-on I basically pack the same way. I just am taking fewer clothes for a shorter trip.

Fortunately, as a frequent traveler, I've learned many of the ins and outs that infrequent travelers are not familiar with. Also fortunately with "elite frequent flyer" status with some of the airlines I am able to board the plane early which gives me the opportunity to fill the overhead bins long before they're filled. Boarding a plane toward the end of the boarding process is a definite disadvantage to those seeking to store carry-on luggage in the overhead bins. When the plane gets full these bins are usually filled before all passengers have entered the plane.

You often hear a flight attendant on heavily booked flights tell the passengers they may only put one bag in the overhead bins and to stow the other bag under the seat in front of them. You rarely see many passengers obey that directive, hence some passengers at the end of the boarding process are told they may only bring one carry-on into the plane.

While I generally fly first class (if the flight is 2.5 hours or longer) and don't have this problem I always pack as if I will have the problem so I'm prepared for problems.
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Old 09-10-2005, 11:59 PM   #8
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Thd airline's own brochure says that valuables, medicine, film, and certain other items should not be in checked baggage.

Therefore we may conclude that you should remove said items on the spot. If the airline won't let you on that flight with your valuables in your control, the airline must still honor your ticket as-is and endeavor to transport you later with due dispatch and also honor continuing and return reservations.

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Old 09-11-2005, 10:09 AM   #9
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I still get very annoyed when I recall the incident. I mean, it was a large plane (three rows of seats on each side), and it was through no fault of our own that we were in the last boarding group -- the gate agent changed our seat assignment without our consent. There was no chance of upgrade to first on that flight, so we were stuck.

We had to make a one-flight-a-day international connection out of MIA, so taking a later flight wasn't much of an option.

I go back to my earlier position, if the gate agents and fA's would enforce the rules about carry-on limits we wouldn't have been put in this position, and other people would benefit -- not just me.
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