Travel Poll: Excess Baggage

I’m just about finished packing up, then I’m meeting a former student for lunch, then heading off to the airport to spend the next eight hours or so making my way home to Kate and SteelyKid and Emmy. Which is a good excuse for a non-dorky poll:


(Bag fees are not an option in this poll, because I’m flying Southwest. They’re my airline of choice, precisely because they minimize the hassle of flying through things like not charging checked bag fees.)

Comments

  1. #1 Tim Eisele
    January 15, 2010

    Actually, it depends on which way I’m going. When going *to* my destination, I don’t check bags because more often than not, the airline does lose them – and if it is stuff that I don’t mind being without for a day or two, why am I even bothering to take it on a 1-2 day trip anyway?

    Coming back home, on the other hand, I’ll happily check anything that isn’t smashable, because I’m going to be *home*, where all my *stuff* is. Although that backfired on me once, when I got stranded in Minneapolis overnight on my way home, but my checked bag with all the things that one wants to have for an overnight stay ended up elsewhere.

  2. #2 Eric Lund
    January 15, 2010

    I chose the second option, but my real answer is “It depends on how long the trip is.” My biggest carryon-legal bag does not have wheels, but I have a somewhat smaller one that does. For a trip of three or four days I can fit all of my stuff into the wheeled carryon plus a briefcase, and not check a bag. The bigger bag, when I’m carrying enough stuff to need it, gets heavy after a while, especially when the trip involves connecting flights.

    Also, I am more willing to check a bag on the return trip than outbound. I generally don’t care if my dirty laundry gets home a day or two later (I have extra clothes at home which will do if that situation arises), but I do need something to wear at my destination.

    Although I have flown Southwest quite a few times (mainly because they are now the only airline that can do MHT-OAK in two hops), I have never checked a bag with them, because all of my trips with them have been of the three to four day variety.

  3. #3 Russell
    January 15, 2010

    Real Guys can carry all they need for two weeks in thenether reaches in a small duffel and backpack. Skip the backpack if you’re leaving your laptop at home. The only reason to check a bag is to transport stuff the latest security theater won’t let you carry on, such as life jacket or knife.

  4. #4 Amber
    January 15, 2010

    No, because I am unwilling to pay in order to check my bags. However I answered the second option because that was my choice before airlines charged me.

  5. #5 Max
    January 15, 2010

    It seems it will depend on whether TSA will allow me any carryon baggage next time I fly into the US. :)

  6. #6 Alex R
    January 15, 2010

    I used to be a confirmed carry-on advocate — you can easily fit all you need for a week or so in a decent carry-on bag, and the wait for baggage really is highly unpredictable. (Though I don’t seem to get my bags lost nearly as often as other commenters here seem to.)

    Then I became a parent, and most of my travel is with the family… Now it’s checked bags all the way — it’s hard enough to keep track of the bare essentials to make sure that a kid can make it through a 5 or more hour plane flight, much less trying to bring everything else on the plane also. The no-liquids security issues are another factor: it’s nice not to have to look to see how many ounces of toothpaste are in the tube when you pack it…

    But on those rare occasions when I travel alone, I do take the trouble to go carry-on, because waiting for your bags is *so* annoying.

  7. #7 CCPhysicist
    January 15, 2010

    No, because I don’t have any bags, or even a winter coat. Everything I need will fit in my underwear.

  8. #8 MRW
    January 15, 2010

    I answered no because I hate waiting, but it’s actually a combination of the two no reasons you gave, and the no reason you didn’t give (Southwest doesn’t fly to my airport). It also matters whether I’m coming or going. Before bag fees, I’d sometimes carry the bag on on the way, and check it on the way back. As several others said, I’m less concerned about my dirty clothes getting lost for a few days when I’m at home than I am about my clean clothes getting lost when I’m far from home.

  9. #9 G.E. Wilker
    January 15, 2010

    I pretty much have to check a bag, because travelling with only carryons would mean going without my multitool, pocket knife, and other assorted ‘weaponry’, for however long I was travelling. This is the major reason I avoid plane travel.

  10. #10 mrzarch
    January 15, 2010

    I objected to the poll, but really I object to flying Southwest. Worst customer service I’ve ever experienced, and the flight attendants’ schtick gets old very quickly. Now that I’m no longer a grad student, and am instead a (relatively) flush postdoc, I will happily pay the few extra $ to fly United or Continental and not have to deal with either the cattle call or the outrageous refusals to rebook me on earlier flights without charging an arm and a leg.

  11. #11 NancyB
    January 15, 2010

    Why do people take so much stuff? The rule is: on a trip take half as many clothes and twice as much money as you think you will need.

  12. #12 Chad Orzel
    January 15, 2010

    I will happily pay the few extra $ to fly United or Continental and not have to deal with either the cattle call or the outrageous refusals to rebook me on earlier flights without charging an arm and a leg.

    See, I find Southwest to be vastly superior to United, because:

    1)The cattle-call thing gets the planes loaded and away from the gate quickly, with a minimum of dicking around.

    2) Their flights leave and arrive more or less on time.

    Every time I fly United, I seem to run into cancellations, long delays, and inexplicable faffing about after the plane has been boarded. Southwest’s crews also tend to be more relaxed about things like letting me listen to my iPod during landing, though that’s somewhat variable.

    I’ve never encountered re-booking problems, because I tend to book a flight and stick to it.

  13. #13 Pineyman
    January 15, 2010

    Serendipitous poll. I flew Continental today from NJ to FL. I did as I always do – stuff everything into a carryall because I absolutely refuse to stand for an hour to pick up damaged luggage – a past experience too often replayed.

    It was tough getting a week’s worth of clothes in the bag, but hey, I can always wear my unmentionables inside out.

  14. #14 Jack
    January 16, 2010

    I ALWAYS fly Southwest … and drive if needed. Great way to see the country and extend business trips to mini-vacations.

  15. #15 Dennis
    January 16, 2010

    I chose “refuse to travel by air”. I don’t travel that much but a couple of years ago I had to fly to most of my grad school interviews. On every trip, I missed either part (or in one case all) of the visit or got stuck in some random city that I had a connection to on my way home.

    I chose to go to the school within driving distance.

  16. #16 reesei
    January 16, 2010

    Yes, because I will be staying longer than a sample bottle of shampoo and conditioner will last. Long hair makes it difficult to deal with the liquid restrictions.

  17. #17 MadGastronomer
    January 16, 2010

    Most of the time when I travel by air, I’m heading to my folks’ house in Florida, and I’m taking a 70lb dog with me. Since I have to check him, I might as well check the bag, too, and save myself the trouble of lugging it around.

  18. #18 Eric Lund
    January 16, 2010

    @mrzarch: I’m with Chad on the difference between Southwest and United.

    Southwest’s boarding procedure is efficient. They can reliably turn a 737 in 30 minutes, stay close to schedule, and avoid most of the futzing about that happens on many major airlines. Plus they will actually give you food (albeit snack food) without making you pay for it. And when I do have a connection, often it’s at a less congested or less delay-prone airport, e.g., coast to coast via Las Vegas with no worries about thunderstorms or blizzards in the Midwest.

    United is just plain awful. Start with the check-in, which feels like a shakedown (pay extra for a seat in the front half of the plane, pay extra for a special faster line through which may not actually be available, plus checked baggage fees). Board by zone, which on United is even worse than the old back-to-front system: window and middle seats for all economy class rows board before aisle seats near the back of the plane (hello congestion, and good luck finding overhead bin space for your bag). If you didn’t get to eat before boarding, plan on paying for your snack. Hope the weather in Chicago won’t wreck their timetable today, even if you aren’t connecting through O’Hell. And if you do miss a connection, good luck getting a seat on the next flight, or for that matter any flight in the next 24 hours.

    Continental is definitely better. Their customer service folks are competent, and they have this radical idea that people flying at mealtime might want to eat something resembling real food. The major downside is having to go through Newark (which is almost as delay-prone as ORD, so avoid tight connections) or Cleveland (which has a less than impressive selection of flights).

  19. #19 Jeff
    January 17, 2010

    Canada still has its asinine “no carry-ons to the U.S.” in place. It’s utterly ridiculous and to make it more infuriating, it’s being inconsistently applied, which makes showing up at the airport a game of “Throw-my-bag-in-the-trash Roulette.”

  20. #20 Andre
    January 17, 2010

    I chose “Yes… don’t want to lug” but I really have a problem with carry-on luggage because it vastly increases the boarding time of the aircraft as everyone takes a minute or two (or five) to find a spot for their carry-on, cram their over-stuffed or too-large bag into the overhead compartment, and have their bag checked gate-side because the room runs out or the bag is too large.

    What makes this even worse is the seemingly ever more frequent announcements I hear from the flight deck saying “Please find your seat as quickly as possible so we aren’t delayed in taking off.” Last flight I was on the pilot said this 4 or 5 times during boarding yet the flight crew were standing and watching as an older man struggled to lift his suitcase into the overhead compartment. We landed about 15 minutes late.

    It’s as if airlines (except Southwest) don’t realize they’re using our comfort and convenience, as well as their and our time, by encouraging people to carry on baggage.

  21. #21 Chad Orzel
    January 17, 2010

    It’s as if airlines (except Southwest) don’t realize they’re using our comfort and convenience, as well as their and our time, by encouraging people to carry on baggage.

    I have been told, but can’t verify personally, that the airlines are perfectly happy to drive passengers toward carry-on luggage, because they can use the unused luggage space to carry commercial shipping, which brings in more money. This is part of the reason for bag fees, and also why they never really enforce the carry-on size rules.

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