Thursday, November 30, 2017

A seasonal primer for luggage etiquette on airplanes


It’s the season of the squeeze.

That should require absolutely no explanation, but just in case: Picture thousands of stressed-out holiday travelers in airport terminals, train stations and bus terminals, bundled up in winter clothing, all piling into a claustrophobia-inducing cattle-class cabin.

With luggage.

“The worst offenders are people who abuse the carry-on luggage limit and take up more space than they are supposed to get,” says Raymond Lee, a finance director for a consumer goods company in New York and a frequent traveler. “They are also the ones who will put their luggage sideways and take up more space for no reason other than they just don’t care to do it right.”

It can lead to chaos.


What better time to brush up on your luggage etiquette?

It starts with what you bring. “Consumers are looking for the most possible space and lightest-weight case possible,” says Scott Niekelski, a direct import manager at the National Luggage Dealers Association, a luggage distributor.

Know suitcase limits for the
airline on which you are flying.
That may be the wrong impulse. When it comes to proper luggage etiquette — less is more. The most experienced passengers travel light. Some don’t bring any luggage.

“I ship my gear ahead to my destination, especially if I plan to be in one place for an extended period,” says Brian Teeter, the Irvine, Calif., author of the “Healthy Trekking Travel Guides” series. “That way, I can travel light and have my main luggage waiting when I arrive.”

Realistically, most of us travel with at least a backpack, purse or some other kind of carry-on.

Tag luggage before arriving at
the gate.
On planes, carry-on luggage is a never-ending irritant. Airlines are partly to blame, since checked luggage fees incentivize passengers to carry most of their belongings with them. Protocol experts say the key to avoiding scraps over luggage is packing light and moving fast. Downsize to a smaller carry-on, like a 22-inch rollaboard or a backpack, and place it in the bin above your seat — not someone else’s (that’s called bin-hogging, and it will almost certainly annoy the passengers below).
 
Packing lightly makes the
whole process go smoother.

Speed matters. Don’t overstuff your bag to the point where you have to wrestle it into the compartment. “Stow carry-on luggage quickly in the overhead bin so other passengers may pass in the aisle,” says Rachel Wagner, a corporate etiquette consultant in Tulsa. “If you need extra time to stow it, step into the seat area for a moment so others may pass by, then step back into the aisle when there’s a short break in the aisle.”

No one likes a blocker, and that’s true at the luggage carousel, as well. For some reason, passengers feel they own the spot immediately next to the conveyor belt, and they refuse to give it up, even if other people see their luggage and want to collect it.


Be kind and patient when waiting at luggage carousels.
“Don’t hover around the baggage carousel,” says photographer Gary Arndt, who travels constantly for work. “Stand at least several steps back from the carousel, and only step forward when your bag is actually coming past.”

Backpacks are another source of pain for travelers, and that’s true on any mode of transportation with narrow corridors. During boarding and deplaning, it’s easy to turn quickly and unwittingly hit fellow passengers with them.


“Take bags off of your shoulder, especially backpacks, before walking down the plane aisle,” says Sarah Howell, a corporate trainer and frequent business traveler based in Austin.

A special note about kids: Parents, if you can avoid taking a stroller, do. Strollers are clunky and they’re easily damaged when you gate-check them. Also monitor older kids with luggage.
Backpacks are easier for kids
to manage themselves.

“Don’t let children wheel their own suitcases through the airport,” says Evie Granville, a writer from Houston who hosts a lifestyle podcast that often deals with etiquette issues. “Instead, pack a backpack for them to carry.”
Christopher Elliott's latest book is “How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler” (National Geographic). You can get real-time answers to any consumer question on his new forum, elliott.org/forum, or by emailing him at wchris@elliott.org.

Photos from free sources
 










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