The carry-on dilema.

Gone are the good-old days of air travel. Those days when the likes of Pan-Am were still around. Airports were lounges to the Sky and we boarded our planes with only the most essential magazine or coat with us. As it turns out air travel has changed into an experience that resembles more a third class bus service than anything else. World events changed the security lines to full body scans and a travellers most feared cue.

There are some things that are beyond our control, like having to go thru security. But there is one problem that airlines didn’t fix that has caused the most consequences in the discomfort that air travel has become.

The airlines inability to handle luggage properly has repercussions on this industry to a level they probably still don’t understand. Because airlines can’t get checked bags to us quickly, and the waiting at the carrousel has become a complete nuisance, we have decided to bring everything on our carry-on.

This weekend I had the opportunity to see, first hand the full boarding process an Airbus 320, fully loaded with passengers and carry-on bags. People bring on board as much as possible. Bags that would never be classified as carry on, which in itself present the impossibility of fitting in the overhead compartments, no matter how much we huff and puff, squeeze and push to get them in. Boxes, purses, books, pizza boxes, sushi containers, laptops the size of small refrigerators and the always required, bladder busting Venti from Starbucks are all now carried on board together with suitcases, attaches and other travel paraphernalia, making the procession to our seats seem more like a modern day version of the Exodus.

The boarding process has become one of the most inefficient and slow processes, which probably accounts for most of peoples anger at air travel, possibly even behind the excruciating line at the security screening area, which in turn is also bogged down for exactly the same reason, as we now have to get everything screened, including the always offending toothpaste tube. A process that would otherwise take 10 minutes to get all 132 of us on our seats, took closer to 30 minutes. So instead of optimizing bag unloading, we have chosen to take longer to get onboard.

I am sure 3/4 of our troubles would immediately disappear if 1) airlines got our checked bags quickly after landing, 2) people would only bring on-board what is required and not have to argue with the already stressed flight attendant on the virtues of 2 objects not being able to occupy the same space, or why the airplane does not have closets for your worldly belongings up high in the sky. They fly more than we do and deserve, sometimes,  a break as well. Their function is not that of our personal porter.

No, the security agencies are not going to change the requirement to put all your creams, lotions, deodorants, gels, etc. on a clear plastic bag.

And please, you didn’t forget about that bottle of shampoo inside your carry-on. It was there last time too.

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