United Airlines is making a surprising change. On the surface I’d say this could be a positive move, but it also really isn’t, in my opinion.
United Airlines eliminating bag sizers from gates
By January 23, 2020, United Airlines will be removing the bag sizers from all gate areas:
- The airline will continue to enforce carry-on sizes at check-in and at the security checkpoint
- At the gate, gate agents will be told to exercise their best judgment in deciding whether a carry-on is the right size or not
Here’s the entire memo to employees, per @BrianSumers:
We’re removing bag sizers from our gate areas
As part of our continued efforts to empower employees and deliver a friendly experience for all, we are removing all gate area bag sizers by January 23. With this change, we will not be removing bag sizers from the lobby and security checkpoints, where we will seek to better identify and check many oversized bags, and we will continue to remind customers about our 1+1 carry-on bag rule in a variety of ways.
In the event an oversized bag makes its way from the lobby to the gate, we know that our customer service representatives can apply our core4 principles and make the best decisions for our customers in the moment. If a bag is oversized, please gate check it to its final destination per the normal process. If it looks like it fits, let it go. Use your best judgment. Do keep in mind that Basic Economy customers are still only allowed one personal item that fits underneath their seat.
Why this change from United doesn’t make sense
In an alternate universe, where United Airlines gate agents were all customer service focused, this would be a fantastic development. The whole concept of gate agents arguing with their customers over the size of bags is just incredibly unpleasant, and leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.
But on planet earth, where many United gate agents very much feel they’re in a position of power, and where they love to threaten over the PA that they’ll personally get fined $10,000 every time someone boards with a bag that’s slightly too big, this seems like a really counterproductive move.
Assuming gate agents are going to continue to police carry-on size (which I imagine is the case), isn’t it better for the gate agent to be able to point someone to a sizer, rather than use their discretion? People already love arguing with gate agents about the size of their bag, about how they were allowed to bring it on their last flight, etc.
This will only be worse, when there’s inconsistency from gate agent to gate agent.
I can appreciate the value in “empower[ing] employees and deliver[ing] a friendly experience for all,” but shouldn’t empowering employees come in other ways? How about allowing them to use their discretion to rebook people who miss flights, or waive change fees in certain situations?
Something as black-and-white as carry-on sizes doesn’t seem like an area where empowering employees adds any value.
United is eliminating carry-on sizers at gates, and to me that’s strange. In an ideal world these wouldn’t exist, but the reality is that gate agents will continue enforcing these limits, but they’ll just be “eyeballing” bags, rather than actually having a point of reference.
I don’t get this move at all…
What do you make of United eliminating bag sizers?