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Carry On Size Limits and Agent Inappropriateness
You would think given all the damning videos, United agents would be more sensitive to customer service. And I’m not sure if this counts as some type of sexual harassment, but here goes…
My wife has Gold status on United Airlines and had a 06:00 flight this morning from EWR to SFO. These PS flights tend to be full (overbooked, really) and they get very stringent about bag size nowadays. So when she approached security, she was asked to put size her carry on. Her carry on bag is within United’s size limits, but the shape of the bag does understandably make it look an inch or two too deep even when it isn’t expanded (it wasn’t expanded for this four day trip). We had flown to EWR together and I had personally put that bag in the sizer, albeit snugly, and nothing had been added to it since. Sure enough, the agent at security let her through.
Cut to thirty minutes later where she was boarding in Group 2 to a premium economy seat. The agent asked her to size her bag before boarding. In a rush to get on the plane, she said that she “had just sized it at security, do I need to do it again?” The agent said she did. She removed a book she had stuffed in the outer pocket while inside the security checkpoint and put it into the sizer. Like I said before, the bag fit snugly, so it does require a bit of pushing. The agent said, “You forced the bag in. It doesn’t fit. You need to check it.” My wife said, “It fits all the way in. I don’t have time to go to baggage claim in San Francisco, can’t I just take it since it clearly fits?” The agent said, “No you forced it. That doesn’t count. We’re checking it because it’s people like you who break all of our overheads.” My wife said she wanted to take a picture of it so she could talk to customer service about this later since she was clearly following United’s bag policy as it fit in the sizer on all three dimensions. She took out her phone and snapped few pictures. When the agent saw this, he removed his [I]personal[/I] cell phone and began to take photos, not of the bag, but of her. He said he wanted to take pictures of [I]her [/I]forcing her bag into the sizer.
Needless to say, she was extremely uncomfortable with a man using his personal phone to take pictures of her. Feeling like she was being creeped on (to say the least) she was ready to move from her calm but angry state to full rage. The agent just walked away and let the other agent tag her bag.
Does my wife have recourse on this? It seems United is way out of bounds on two fronts: (1) the bag fit in the sizer, which we have photographic evidence of and they still forced her to check it with space in the overhead. I’ve never heard of the “your bag breaks our overheads” excuse before or the “if you force it into the sizer, it doesn’t count” excuse. And (2) the male united agent was taking photos of my wife, who is a 30 year old woman traveling alone, on his personal phone claiming he wanted evidence that she was forcing her bag into the sizer, even though the bag was already in the sizer. That seems inappropriate to say the least and sounds like sexual harassment at its worst.
Do you have to fly United? Some people fly private…
I’m not a United loyalist but I’ve seem similar refusals on American when the bag was squeezed into the sizer.
I’d explain the situation to United Gold customer service (email or snail mail) and politely ask for some form of compensation. Certainly if she got charged for the checked bag, they should absolutely refund that.
I would caution though that while inappropriate, I’d have a hard time seeing the sexual harassment argument be successful. Just my thoughts…