Top gripe: Luggage fees

Consumer Reports list of what annoys travelers the most

Pick up the current issue of Consumer Reports (June 2010). Besides a great article rating the current computers on the market, the issue has a special travel section where it rates the best and worst hotels; very helpful if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed trying to figure out what works best for your travel needs.

Tucked in the article, though, is a great little graph called “What Annoys Travelers Most.” People sure get annoyed at a lot of things, but the top annoyance is luggage charges. Those $25 fees sure add up.

Take a look further down on the list, though. In at #8 is something of particular interest to those of us who travel with just a carry-on: “People who hog carry-on space.”

Although I espouse traveling with just your carry-ons, I have to agreeā€”it’s pretty obnoxious when people bring Jabba the Hut overstuffed carry-ons on board and try to squeeze them into the overhead. Unless you’re an elite-status frequent flier who gets early boarding privileges, you’ve probably boarded aircrafts where all the overhead space above your seat was already taken by other people’s luggage. As annoying as it is, that overhead space is a free-for-all; passengers can put their carry-ons in any space they wish, and there are those truly annoying ones who will purposefully stash their luggage in the overhead bins closer to the front of the aircraft for their convenience, even if they’re sitting towards the back of the plane. How rude and selfish can you get?

Remember: The Travelite philosophy is not how to take on board with you as much as you can get away with. People who use marginally acceptable luggage, overstuff then, then try to cram them into the overhead space, still fall into the “traveload” camp and they besmirch the good name of those of us who travel lightly.

Here’s a couple of real easy tips to remember, as you pack your carry-on for a trip:

  • Will this thing fit my airline’s carry-on bag sizer contraption at the airport?
  • Can I actually carry this thing around a block? Yes, even if it’s a rolling upright. I said “carry,” not pull on its wheels. Is it too heavy? Am I too out of shape? Does it not have a shoulder strap or a handle?
  • Can I actually lift this thing high enough that I can put it in the overhead bin by myself?
  • And most importantly: Is it soft-sided, pliable, or not overstuffed, so that when I put this carry-on in the overhead bin, I can slide it straight in, instead of spreading it out sideways and taking up more space? Extra points if you can actually place your carry-on on the floor under the seat in front of you.