American Airlines’ Strange Weight Restriction Claim

American Airlines’ Strange Weight Restriction Claim

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Here in the United States, it’s totally common for gate agents to try to solicit volunteers to gate check their bags, in order to ensure that they don’t run out of overhead bin space. This is a uniquely American problem, and even as airlines are installing bigger overhead bins, it doesn’t seem to get any better.

Gate agents will try to get passengers to voluntarily gate check bags in all kinds of ways. Sometimes they try to make it sound like a privilege, while other times they essentially warn that it’s inevitable. However, there’s one method I’ve heard twice in recent weeks, which can’t help but make me chuckle.

Gate agents mark spurious “weight restriction” claims

While boarding a flight today in Miami (MIA), a gate agent made an interesting announcement shortly before boarding started:

“We have a weight restriction on the aircraft today, we can not accommodate all the bags in the cabin, and we will need some people to voluntarily check their bags.”

I don’t think I need to point out the absurdity of this, do I? Yes, it’s entirely possible that an aircraft can be weight restricted, but then it doesn’t matter if a bag is in the overhead bin or in the cabin. Actually, quite to the contrary, cabin bags aren’t weighed (so don’t count toward the total, as airlines use an average weight for those purposes), while checked bags are weighed.

Let me of course also acknowledge that technically overhead bins have posted maximum weights, but those have always applied, and despite that, bags are never weighed. So I wouldn’t think that’s a factor here.

Now, I’d attribute the above quote to just one gate agent making stuff up, except I heard the same announcement on an American flight out of New York (JFK) earlier this month.

So did gate agents independently come up with this lie, is the company encouraging this as a good talking point, or what?

American gate agents make some interesting claims

What this reminds me of…

Remember back in the day when electronics had to be turned off for takeoff and landing, rather than just having to be in airplane mode? I remember one particular early morning flight many years ago with a very energetic flight attendant who claimed to have a panel in the galley showing how many electronic devices were on, and how many seatbelts weren’t fastened.

“Ladies and gentlemen, I’m seeing that 48 people still have their phones on, and 31 people still aren’t wearing their seatbelts.” Then over the next few minutes that number kept going down.

For avoidance of doubt, no such panel exists (obviously), but it might have just worked…

There’s no seatbelt counter panel in the galley!

Bottom line

I’ve now twice heard American Airlines gate agents claim that they needed volunteers to gate check bags due to an aircraft weight restriction. Unless I’m missing something obvious, that makes absolutely no sense, unless there’s new technology I don’t know about whereby an aircraft cabin and aircraft cargo hold fly separately.

I’m curious if I’ve just run into two telepathic gate agents, or if others have heard this claim as well on American or another airline?

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  1. Jim Napier Guest

    Heard this for the first time this month in Buffalo on AA, complete with threats to offload pax if the warnings were not heeded. So weird.

  2. Rick F Guest

    Though incredibly unlikely, it's possible they needed those bags as ballast in the front or rear cargo hold for CG reasons, especially on smaller aircraft.

  3. John K Guest

    OK, I can't say this IS the issue, but simple weight is not that simple! There is such a thing as weight AND balance, and where the luggage is stored CAN make a difference! The passenger space on the aircraft does not cover the full length of the cargo space, and therefore shifting some weight forward or aft in the cargo space can make a difference in the handling of the aircraft. Too much weight...

    OK, I can't say this IS the issue, but simple weight is not that simple! There is such a thing as weight AND balance, and where the luggage is stored CAN make a difference! The passenger space on the aircraft does not cover the full length of the cargo space, and therefore shifting some weight forward or aft in the cargo space can make a difference in the handling of the aircraft. Too much weight aft of the center of gravity, and you can't bring the nose down, the plane stalls and crashes. Too much weight forward of the center of gravity, and you can't bring the nose up, take off fails and you crash. A number of recorded aircraft accidents happened for this exact reason!

    We are inexorably moving toward an environment where ALL bags and passengers will be weighed before boarding, especially for the smaller commuter planes, which are far more sensitive to weight and balance issues. It's very obvious that the author and many of those commenting have never actually piloted an aircraft!

    1. KEM Guest

      Well stated John K. Exactly what I wanted to point out. The advent of the internet and search engines have made amateur, armchair aviation know-it-alls quite numerous…

  4. Lee Mercer Guest

    Best one I ever heard was in the early days of Easyjet when cabin announcer said "Smoking in the toilets is prohibited, a one caught smoking will be asked to leave the airplane immediately"

  5. Laura Formsma Guest

    The only reason gate agents check bags is because they don't all fit in the overhead it has nothing to do with weight restriction. Anytime I hear things like this I wish there was proof as in a video of the said gate agent saying these things. Planes also have to be balanced correctly which might be a reason to move bags to a different place.

  6. Seasoned Traveller Guest

    This article is wrong. The weight restriction actually very much the opposite.

    In order to adhere to the weight restrictions imposed, it is imperative that all bags be appropriately accommodated within the aircraft. Each passenger is typically granted an allocation of 200lbs on average. When a bag is checked, an estimated weight of 60lbs is added to the cargo's estimated weight without deducting it from the passenger's estimated weight. Consequently, when weight restrictions are...

    This article is wrong. The weight restriction actually very much the opposite.

    In order to adhere to the weight restrictions imposed, it is imperative that all bags be appropriately accommodated within the aircraft. Each passenger is typically granted an allocation of 200lbs on average. When a bag is checked, an estimated weight of 60lbs is added to the cargo's estimated weight without deducting it from the passenger's estimated weight. Consequently, when weight restrictions are in effect, every effort is made to accommodate all bags within the cabin to prevent further burden on the cargo hold. Therefore, the accuracy of the aforementioned article is significantly flawed. It is important to note that smaller bags and carry-ons should ideally be stowed beneath the seats to minimize the occupancy of overhead bins, which are primarily designated for larger rollerboard-type bags.

  7. iamhere Guest

    It is true that the total weight does not change, but weight limits can be very specific such as which part of the plane. I was once moved, to a better seat, because they had to balance the weight on the plane.

  8. Richard T Guest

    I had this on a Miami flight last week saying that they would have to deplane 2 passengers due to weight if people would not gate check!!!!

  9. Luke Guest

    This could actually be an issue of weight balancing - which is a form of weight restriction. If the plane is carrying a heavy piece of equipment in cargo, it can matter WHERE the weight is distributed.

  10. Anna A. Guest

    I live in Trinidad and most often fly between Port of Spain and Miami or Houston. This is a very common announcement on both the United and the AA flights whether to or from the USA. The flights are usually full and they repeatedly ask passengers to gate check bags for this reason.

  11. Mimi Guest

    I flew Delta last week and was forced to gate check my carry-on because it was a "weight restricted flight". I didn't argue the lack of logic because I didn't want to get kicked off the flight, but how stupid do they think we are??

    1. Kelley P Diamond

      They think we're REALLY stupid, and we prove it when we vote.... :-p

    2. Steven L. Gold

      And when people write, too, apparently. If there were an issue with balancing out the weight of the cargo on the plane, then it may be required for luggage to be loaded in a certain way on the plane. This would be a limitation because of bulk... a requirement based on mass... a "weight" "restriction", if you will.

  12. Steven Hatch Guest

    Maybe, and rightly so, the assumptio is that the people they are talking to are too stupid to realize that the checked bags are still on the plane.

  13. Steve-YYZ Guest

    I LOL'd on a recent flight as the FA made the cabin announcement while taxiing out. She was begging people to turn off and put away their electronics, meanwhile her fellow FA sitting beside her was furiously texting away on her phone!

  14. Webby Guest

    Not just an American problem. It's a big problem in Canada too. I feel like airlines could solve a bunch of problems all at once if they charged for cabin baggage and allowed check bags for free. No more gate lice, people lining up an hour in advance of boarding, FAs walking up and down the aisle trying to find bin space.

    1. 2nvman Guest

      The major carriers do not want your bags in the cargo area. They make much more money from cargo than they ever would from passenger luggage, especially out of heavy cargo hubs like MIA, JFK and LAX. The only reason agents want to check luggage is to get flights out on time.

  15. Miami305 Member

    This one is right up there with FA's saying 'please take your seats as we are on final approach', when you are still at 20,000 feet and 100+ miles from the airport!

    1. ted poco Guest

      This is because when they make this announcement many people rush to the restroom.

  16. Maria Guest

    I would be willing to bet that the Flight Attendant who made the claim about having a panel showing the status of electronic devices was with Southwest. They are the most creative with getting people to pay attention. It’s funny (every semi- intelligent) person knows it’s not true but they go ahead and check tbeir equipment as well. My guess about the weight statement is that it’s in the same vein, ie., say something that...

    I would be willing to bet that the Flight Attendant who made the claim about having a panel showing the status of electronic devices was with Southwest. They are the most creative with getting people to pay attention. It’s funny (every semi- intelligent) person knows it’s not true but they go ahead and check tbeir equipment as well. My guess about the weight statement is that it’s in the same vein, ie., say something that is just off enough to make people think - get off their phones, and check their bag.

  17. Andy 11235 Guest

    Honestly, what I find most absurd is that the FAA declares the average weight of a passenger + carry-on as 190lb in summer/ 195lb in winter. Meanwhile, the CDC reports that the average American actually weights 186lb without even considering things like clothes or bags. If there is any insanity here, it's the weight assumptions for what is walking into the cabin -- once we assume that the average American passenger wears shoes and clothes,...

    Honestly, what I find most absurd is that the FAA declares the average weight of a passenger + carry-on as 190lb in summer/ 195lb in winter. Meanwhile, the CDC reports that the average American actually weights 186lb without even considering things like clothes or bags. If there is any insanity here, it's the weight assumptions for what is walking into the cabin -- once we assume that the average American passenger wears shoes and clothes, carry-on bags must generate a sphere of negative gravity that helps to lift the aircraft.

  18. Facts Guest

    This all has to do with the balance arm, not actual total weight. The center of gravity(CG) was outside of the balance envelope. More weight was needed in a particular hold to shift the cg fwd or aft. They either didn't have ballast available, or knew they could get what they needed with carry ons. Carry on weight technically is figured into the calculation for the average weight used per passenger.
    Signed, an A&P, Aeronautical engineer, and student pilot

    1. Kelley P Diamond

      Ok, I could buy that reasoning. Thanks.

  19. Icarus Guest

    It’s everywhere. Some airlines email customers in advance based on their fare to inform them to gate check bags once the aircraft reaches a specific load factor. You should simply always travel with a bag that will fit under the seat in front as it makes things much simpler. Meanwhile Americans are amongst the worst when it comes to what they want to take on board.

  20. Dean Guest

    Not a uniquely American problem, pretty common between MEL-SYD in Australia for example where it's mainly corporate travellers with only carry on and the flight is full. The 737 bins are big but still not enough. Happened to me the other day, the irony being that I wanted to check another bag anyway at check in but was over my allowance and told to carry it on, only to then take up the opportunity to...

    Not a uniquely American problem, pretty common between MEL-SYD in Australia for example where it's mainly corporate travellers with only carry on and the flight is full. The 737 bins are big but still not enough. Happened to me the other day, the irony being that I wanted to check another bag anyway at check in but was over my allowance and told to carry it on, only to then take up the opportunity to voluntarily have it checked at the gate when the announcement came.

  21. Adam G Guest

    Airline crew here. It actually does matter where the bag is. I'm not with American but another airline. Bags in our OHB do not count toward weight and balance, however in cargo they do. Same bag same weight, but it makes a difference. Weights in the cabin are averaged. If we are on a weight restricted flight....aka at zero max fuel weight (possibly for weather), then we have to be careful. There are times where...

    Airline crew here. It actually does matter where the bag is. I'm not with American but another airline. Bags in our OHB do not count toward weight and balance, however in cargo they do. Same bag same weight, but it makes a difference. Weights in the cabin are averaged. If we are on a weight restricted flight....aka at zero max fuel weight (possibly for weather), then we have to be careful. There are times where if we have to gate check a bag that won't fit in a OHB, then it might require us to pull 2 passengers off the plane. I know it doesn't make sense to you, but it does to the agent doing the weight and balance and final performance Numbers. On our 737-800s they are weight sensitive when it's a low pax count and we have to have pax sit in certain zones only to balance the weight of cargo. A lot more goes into weight and balance than the average passenger knows. I don't believe AA was acting in bad faith.

    1. Dave W Guest

      You suggest that a weight-restricted flight would not want to encourage a bag to be gate checked. So, the AA agent would, by encouraging gate checking, cause the weight restriction to be tighter. Your explanation supports the original questioning of the announcement.

    2. Kelley P Diamond

      that's actually opposite of what I got out of Adam's comment....

  22. Joe L Guest

    Tankering is a practice whereby an aircraft carries more fuel than required for its safe flight in order to reduce or avoid refuelling at the destination airport for subsequent flight(s). AA does this on its MIA-Georgetown Guyana flights that I take regularly. I hear the weight restriction announcement regularly for this flight and only this flight.

    Also since Ben wrote about the AA shelf stable continental breakfast recently — they also do this on...

    Tankering is a practice whereby an aircraft carries more fuel than required for its safe flight in order to reduce or avoid refuelling at the destination airport for subsequent flight(s). AA does this on its MIA-Georgetown Guyana flights that I take regularly. I hear the weight restriction announcement regularly for this flight and only this flight.

    Also since Ben wrote about the AA shelf stable continental breakfast recently — they also do this on the Georgetown-MIA early morning return.

  23. Joe Guest

    The ONLY reason agents are "gate checking" bags is with th sole purpose of avoiding a departure delay at the end of the boarding. That's it. FAA uses approved average passenger weights for summer/winter seasons. In other words, the weight includes the passenger and his carry-on bag. Everyone weights a "fixed" weight as approved by the FAA. Implying that due to weight restrictions they need to "gate check" bags actually augments the weight problem and...

    The ONLY reason agents are "gate checking" bags is with th sole purpose of avoiding a departure delay at the end of the boarding. That's it. FAA uses approved average passenger weights for summer/winter seasons. In other words, the weight includes the passenger and his carry-on bag. Everyone weights a "fixed" weight as approved by the FAA. Implying that due to weight restrictions they need to "gate check" bags actually augments the weight problem and NOT the other way around. Again , the SOLE purpose of this is to avoid a departure delay at the end of the boarding.

  24. Jake Guest

    The amount of problems and extra costs that cabin bags are causing is incredible.

    Southwest gets it right with "bags fly free".

    If AA wants to charge for bags, it should do so for the cabin ones -- to charge a grandma to check a bag forcing her to lug it to the gate is absolutely asinine. As is allowing business travelers to bring their huge rollies onboard for free when they definitely would pay for this (time saving)!

    1. simmonad Guest

      Charging for cabin bags is precisely what European LCCs do (EZY, RYR, Wizz) which means that, even if you board at the end of the priority queue, there's always been room so far for my bag overhead.

    2. Albert Guest

      Hmm, you are suggesting that it affects the regulation.
      That tells us that the regulation is wrong.
      Fortunately I think the factor of safety built in is adequate to cope with that.

  25. Lightning1 Guest

    Bags brought on and placed in overhead are not counted as weight. They are factored in with the passenger average of 175 lb. Bags in the cargo hold ARE counted as weight. 23.5 lbs.

    1. Barbara Guest

      This just adds to the insanity of charging you if the bag is over a certain weight...so you move the weight to your carryon... While the guy behind you weighs more than you & your bag together...but..no extra charged for him. Originally created for increased fuel usage... like any tax... It never goes away even if the reason for the tax does. Scam.

  26. 305 Guest

    Might just be a form of mental warfare/corporate retaliation against all the travel blogger posts calling the airlines out for being overly aggressive/full of sh** with gate checking bags?

  27. Pete P Guest

    I once had an AA captain standing at the end of the jetway and making every one checking any luggage that had wheels. I had a small wheeled luggage and made to check it while other passengers with larger and heavier bags were let through!

  28. Jeff Guest

    I’ve heard Delta say things like “payload restricted” or “payload optimized flight” but I always thought that had to due with cargo more than anything.

    1. Lightning1 Guest

      Payload optimized or restricted is another issue.

  29. JC1 Guest

    I heard this recently on 2 American Airlines flights that had all seats occupied. They even said they would have to offload passengers if we were not able to get all carryons into the overhead bin because of weight and balance issues. When I heard this I thought it was odd as you said because whether the weight is in the overhead bins or in the cargo hold shouldn't matter since its is the same amount of weight.

    1. Adam G Guest

      This is very true. Airline crew here. Flying from Houston to San Jose Costa Rica on a 737-700, we are often weight restricted as we need a lot of fuel. Any bags that don't fit in the OHB and we have to check, there is a chance that 1-3 pax will have to he pulled due to being overweight. Bags in OHB do not count against the weight, but checked bags do. The main issue is if we are at zero max fuel weight.

  30. DC Yukon Guest

    Never seen it for carryons only but I’ve seen this often on long haul widebody international flights starting decades ago where the $$ earned from cargo exceeds the $$ earned from pax. Or when temps were too hot for takeoff weight with all booked pax or strong headwinds/weight/fuel consumption calcs showed the flight would fall short of destination. In those cases, though, they’d ask for volunteers to take a later flight and the flight would...

    Never seen it for carryons only but I’ve seen this often on long haul widebody international flights starting decades ago where the $$ earned from cargo exceeds the $$ earned from pax. Or when temps were too hot for takeoff weight with all booked pax or strong headwinds/weight/fuel consumption calcs showed the flight would fall short of destination. In those cases, though, they’d ask for volunteers to take a later flight and the flight would depart far less than full.

  31. USChair Guest

    I believe that this may be the new script as I heard this in RSW today as well. Made no sense. Trying to scare people into specific behavior.

  32. TravelinWilly Diamond

    This sounds like a convenient lie.

    Remember back in the earlier mobile phone days? You know, when they all had to be switched off from pushback to touchdown? (Some airlines didn't even allow their use ON THE GROUND - Looking at YOU, Lufthansa circa 2004)

    On some carriers the FAs would would announce "We are seeing precisely 16 phones that have not been powered down, and we cannot push back until everyone complies."

    SO...

    This sounds like a convenient lie.

    Remember back in the earlier mobile phone days? You know, when they all had to be switched off from pushback to touchdown? (Some airlines didn't even allow their use ON THE GROUND - Looking at YOU, Lufthansa circa 2004)

    On some carriers the FAs would would announce "We are seeing precisely 16 phones that have not been powered down, and we cannot push back until everyone complies."

    SO DUMB. But apparently the convenient lies work for some people...

    1. Jake Guest

      Asinine and uninformed conspiracy theory.

      Plenty of documented buzz introduced by GSM 2G phones in aviation radio communications. CDMA and TDMA (US standards at the time), 3G, 4G, and 5G don't cause such interference.

      In 2004 you still had a fair amount of 2G phones outside of the US (except Japan, another story) to make a difference for airlines based there. Of course, with time people upgraded phones to non-interfering tech (3G, 4G etc.)...

      Asinine and uninformed conspiracy theory.

      Plenty of documented buzz introduced by GSM 2G phones in aviation radio communications. CDMA and TDMA (US standards at the time), 3G, 4G, and 5G don't cause such interference.

      In 2004 you still had a fair amount of 2G phones outside of the US (except Japan, another story) to make a difference for airlines based there. Of course, with time people upgraded phones to non-interfering tech (3G, 4G etc.) and telcos even shut down their 2G networks.

    2. Kelley P Diamond

      5G actually CAN potentially cause some interference, mainly with the altitude detection. My husband is a pilot and explained it (in great technical detail) to me.

  33. Peng you Guest

    I have overseen the airlines procedure and this might be possible on domestic flights that have very few passengers and need bags due to balance more than weight issues. However, on a full flight there is a high chance of having a number of checked bags, with this being said, the statement is probably made up by an airline worker to make no so frequent passengers believe that if they do not cooperate, as a way of cohersion, their flight will not depart.

  34. jb17 Member

    Wonder if it is less about weight and more about balance. If there is less cargo than normal there could be a balance issue (otherwise they would need to load additional weight in the hold, so better to load bags that are traveling anyways than just dead weight). I've heard this now and then on Delta - but also very possible it's just a tactic.

  35. Isaac Guest

    They use “weight and balance” as an excuse to get passengers to do what the gate agents does or doesn’t want to do.

    I’ve been given an excuse that the aircraft is weight restricted to not list me on a LAX>>SFO flight on a 320 on a clear day to go home early.

    It’s a catch all excuse to make it seem dangerous if you don’t comply.

    Having worked regional flights. That’s appropriate. But not used in a disingenuous way and dilutes it when there is an actual need.

  36. Gerwanese New Member

    Not really a uniquely American problem. It's pretty common on Lufthansa flights in Germany too - mostly on the smaller airplanes operated by CityLine, but I had it quite a few times on "real" Lufthansa (A320/A321) as well.
    While for the CityLine flights they usually collect all bags bigger than a medium backpack during boarding, I pretty much like Lufthansa's solution for their fully booked A320 family flights: They usually send a message (through...

    Not really a uniquely American problem. It's pretty common on Lufthansa flights in Germany too - mostly on the smaller airplanes operated by CityLine, but I had it quite a few times on "real" Lufthansa (A320/A321) as well.
    While for the CityLine flights they usually collect all bags bigger than a medium backpack during boarding, I pretty much like Lufthansa's solution for their fully booked A320 family flights: They usually send a message (through e-mail and their app) a bit in advance offering free check-in of the bag even if no check-in baggage is included in the ticket. I did that a few times when I wasn't in hurry after arrival. It will cost you a bit of time waiting for your luggage, but on the other hand it's so much more relaxed not carrying a bag through the cabin.

    1. scio nescio Guest

      True - but as you wrote, in Germany they mainly use it on full flights to smoothen the boarding process. I heard this many time but never with a claim of weight limitations or weight balancing. It was always just a precautionary measure to smoothen the boarding and avoid having to put bags in the hold which on a full flight did not fit into the overhead bins.

    2. UncleRonnie Guest

      Yes, it happens regularly on BA and EasyJet short-haul flights around Europe. Giving up on stressing and fighting for a slot in the overheads is very liberating.

    3. Richmond_Surrey Guest

      Pretty normal on BA. But a few days ago I had a new experience at LHR T5. Before getting to security, agent tried to force me to check my bag and quoting T&C. I had to forcefully remove my boarding card from agent's hand and refused to check my bag. I was told, they will force me at the gate. Of course, flight was not full, no one cared about bags and there was plenty of space in overhead lockers.

  37. Fonz J. Guest

    This is US Airways legacy policy.

  38. Ryan Guest

    I had this happen on a Delta flight from BOI-MSP last winter too. Not just AA.

  39. Christian Guest

    I don't expect a travel blogger to know the ins and outs of airline operations, but it's better to research before making negative assumptions about the gate agents... As a gate agent myself, with experience working for different airlines, it's absolutely possible for weight restrictions to affect the number of carry ons checked at the gate, especially on regional aircraft and even narrow bodies... I can't speak for this particular flight, but I have worked...

    I don't expect a travel blogger to know the ins and outs of airline operations, but it's better to research before making negative assumptions about the gate agents... As a gate agent myself, with experience working for different airlines, it's absolutely possible for weight restrictions to affect the number of carry ons checked at the gate, especially on regional aircraft and even narrow bodies... I can't speak for this particular flight, but I have worked flights in which we were told to try to accommodate as many carry ons as possible in the cabin due to weight restrictions. I know it's the opposite of what you experienced, but whether the bags are in the cabin or in the hold does affect weight and balance, apparently...

    1. Jacques Portgieter Guest

      Could you explain why?

    2. Terry Netzer Guest

      Read the previous posts and it’s explained pretty clearly.

    3. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Ben's point is valid and it is that the total weight on the aircraft doesn't change if a carry on bag is in the overhead bin or checked in the baggage compartment. In fact, he accurately notes that carry on bags are not weighed while all airlines have to include the weight of checked luggage even if it is a generalized weight based on the total number of checked bags.

    4. FlyerDon Guest

      Actually Tim, for load planning purposes, a carry on bag, that is loaded in the cargo compartment, weighs more than if it was carried in the cabin. It’s the miracle of average weights. Now it’s possible, on a weight restricted flight, that a proactive load agent, trying to avoid a last minute surprise, encouraged the gate agent to get passengers to gate check their bags early rather than at the last minute, to avoid a...

      Actually Tim, for load planning purposes, a carry on bag, that is loaded in the cargo compartment, weighs more than if it was carried in the cabin. It’s the miracle of average weights. Now it’s possible, on a weight restricted flight, that a proactive load agent, trying to avoid a last minute surprise, encouraged the gate agent to get passengers to gate check their bags early rather than at the last minute, to avoid a last minute payload increase that would force the load agent and the dispatcher, to rework their numbers to stay under max allowable takeoff weight and still depart on time. It does happen.

    5. Ryan Guest

      I don't think you get it. I also was a gate agent, and know and weight and balance. As you said, your experience was the opposite of the authors point. I also tried to force bags ONTO the plane instead of checking them on certain flights. But like the author said, that's because on board bags do NOT in fact count towards weight. Therefore, what these gate agents are doing makes no sense

    6. Eskimo Guest

      I don't expect a gate agent to know the ins and outs of physics.

      But the authority bestowed upon you means you're more knowledgeable than Einstein or Albert isn't going on this flight.

      Your power trip can defy the laws of physics if one wants to fly.

    7. Jim Baround Guest

      Does it change the actual weight of the aircraft, no. But does it change the official weight of the aircraft, yes. US Airline weight and balance programs do not count the number of carry on bags in the cabin, they attribute an approximate weight to each passenger that includes an approximate carry on bag, whether they have one or not.

      Each bag that is in a cargo bin, whether checked at the ticket counter or...

      Does it change the actual weight of the aircraft, no. But does it change the official weight of the aircraft, yes. US Airline weight and balance programs do not count the number of carry on bags in the cabin, they attribute an approximate weight to each passenger that includes an approximate carry on bag, whether they have one or not.

      Each bag that is in a cargo bin, whether checked at the ticket counter or at the gate, is counted and has an approximate weight assigned. So as stated by others, there is a "weight and balance" motivation to have carry on bags not be checked. However, what Ben experience, which is the opposite situation, does not appear to have any "weight and balance" motivation.

  40. Alex Guest

    It's just so condescending.

    1. UncleRonnie Guest

      AA should offload some freight or people instead of asking you to check a bag?

  41. Josh Guest

    There is a possibility where balance would play more of a role, however uncommon: On A321NEO, when the cabin has an occupancy of fewer than 100 pax, and the flight is, say, longer than just 1.5 hours, balance becomes more critical due to the location of the additional fuel tank and therefore an aft load is needed. Whether it be by seating non-revs all the way in the back, moving paying passengers from the front...

    There is a possibility where balance would play more of a role, however uncommon: On A321NEO, when the cabin has an occupancy of fewer than 100 pax, and the flight is, say, longer than just 1.5 hours, balance becomes more critical due to the location of the additional fuel tank and therefore an aft load is needed. Whether it be by seating non-revs all the way in the back, moving paying passengers from the front to the back or simply trying to put as many bags possible in the aft cargo hold. Again, not too often but definitely happens.

  42. Rick L Guest

    DL said same on a a320 out of LAX two wks ago. Gate agent said weight restriction ; need to check some bags. So dumb.

  43. Scudder Diamond

    I bet there’s an unofficial, private FB group of GAs where they share their great ‘ideas’.

  44. hbilbao Guest

    OMG the secret (made-up) panel displaying # of unfastened seats and active devices is new to me! Although, in fairness, I think my family would have believed it then, and probably even today.

    1. Jdawg Guest

      I've seen a screen coloring seats on a recent flight. I'm pretty sure it was showing open seatbelts, can't imagine what else it would be. And technically it is trivial, I mean virtually all cars do that these days too.

      Phones on the other hand, while technically possible, is highly unlikely, let alone while still at the airport. At some point there was an effort to make cell service available on planes but I think...

      I've seen a screen coloring seats on a recent flight. I'm pretty sure it was showing open seatbelts, can't imagine what else it would be. And technically it is trivial, I mean virtually all cars do that these days too.

      Phones on the other hand, while technically possible, is highly unlikely, let alone while still at the airport. At some point there was an effort to make cell service available on planes but I think these days it's all WiFi and stingrays are not common on planes I think

    2. hbilbao Guest

      Yeah, the # of fastened seatbelts can be easily monitored nowadays. I was just thinking about how believable it could have been "many years ago", as Ben said.

    3. grichard Guest

      Wait, how? It's a fabric strap, and the buckle is a couple of pieces of metal with a spring.

      Auto seatbelts are monitored by sensors in the receptacle, but there sure don't seem to be any wires in most airline belts. Indeed, you can often see the simple metal clip on the other end where they attach to the seat frame.

      I'm no expert. Maybe you're right, but I'm having difficulty imagining how they can be monitored.

    4. hbilbao Guest

      I should have written "the # of fastened seatbelts COULD be easily monitored nowadays" ***IF*** they add sensors, of course. Other than that, I've only seen seatbelts made of the same ordinary pieces of fabric and metal as you.

    5. ATLFlyer Guest

      Nope. It wasn’t. Commercial aircraft do not have this feature. If the digital display showed individual seats, it was the IFE control unit.

  45. John Guest

    Not just an American problem. It’s not uncommon north of the border and I’ve seen it on European carriers too. It’s unfortunate that AA is targetting stupid passengers with this latest approach

  46. Bob Crooz Guest

    I had a United Express F/A tell me I couldn't have my 19" rollaboard theat easily fit in the overhead of the CRJ that I couldn't have it in the cabin because there is a 185# per seat limit and that me, my laptop backpack and the carry on exceeded that limit. Imagine if I were one of the SWA free extra seat people. I would have been booted from the flight.

  47. Gregory Guest

    Actually, it’s not something the agents make up. Sounds crazy I know, but loads will actually advise Operations and the ramp crew working the flight of a weight and balance issue; typically state they can only comment so many gate bags in the cargo hold. I always tell myself that makes zero sense, considering all they’re doing is redistributing weight that was already going to be on the aircraft from the cabin to the belly....

    Actually, it’s not something the agents make up. Sounds crazy I know, but loads will actually advise Operations and the ramp crew working the flight of a weight and balance issue; typically state they can only comment so many gate bags in the cargo hold. I always tell myself that makes zero sense, considering all they’re doing is redistributing weight that was already going to be on the aircraft from the cabin to the belly. But that’s how AA runs it. But I can promise you that the weight and balance issues that the agents quote at the gate aren’t made up; they’re just repeating whatever they’re told.

    1. DXR Guest

      This story would only hold weight (pun intended) if it was a balance issue which still shows up on the gate agents screen as a "weight restriction". But this is usually on an A321 that is lightly loaded.

    2. Gregory Guest

      If it’s a very lightly loaded 321, then usually they block a few rows of seats, or select seats in first or business. Get bags usually aren’t a problem for that. But quite frequently really heavy Miami flights on 321’s and 737 max’s have w/B issues. That’s when different departments start getting calls about how many get bags can be accommodated.

  48. George Romey Guest

    These are gate agents talking together on how to get people to check their bags at the gate, specifically when "we will run out of room and your flight will take off late" or "hey, it's free" doesn't work.

  49. Sean M. Diamond

    It is THEORETICALLY possible that additional ballast was needed in the holds to balance the envelope, so checking the bags would be one way to provide that on paper.

  50. Jeff Guest

    I ran into the other end of this on A UA 777 from SFo-IAD where they were begging people not to gate check bags because the holds were overweight. We all know that it's based on averages although the air freight itself is weighed.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Tim Dunn Diamond

Ben's point is valid and it is that the total weight on the aircraft doesn't change if a carry on bag is in the overhead bin or checked in the baggage compartment. In fact, he accurately notes that carry on bags are not weighed while all airlines have to include the weight of checked luggage even if it is a generalized weight based on the total number of checked bags.

2
Sean M. Diamond

It is THEORETICALLY possible that additional ballast was needed in the holds to balance the envelope, so checking the bags would be one way to provide that on paper.

2
ted poco Guest

This is because when they make this announcement many people rush to the restroom.

1
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