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.
In this post:
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?
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…
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?