24.6.15

LESS HEADROOM, LESS FUEL USAGE?

The international air transportation cartel, which once had to hold a high-level meeting to define what constituted a "sandwich" for nourishment of transatlantic coach passengers, now seeks to define down the size of a "cabin OK" carry on bag.  It's all in the interest of enhanced service.  But sometimes, even corporate-speak reveals the truth.
No one is asking anybody to replace their carry-on bags with Cabin OK bags. Passengers can continue to use their current luggage without restriction.

But today, passengers run the risk that when cabin space is used up, some luggage will need to go into the hold (typically free of charge).

Cabin OK bags could eliminate that risk on aircraft of 120 seats or more.

Furthermore, airlines will continue to have differing maximum sizes for cabin bags. What is acceptable on one might not be acceptable on another. However, a Cabin OK bag will meet all carriers' maximum size.
The dirty little secret, dear reader, is that with the airlines charging to stow your baggage in the hold, the dominant strategy especially for frequent travellers who have repackaged their toiletries according to the latest security ukases, is to bring along the largest possible carry-on, or even a slightly over-size carry-on, because the good folks at the ramp will stow your stuff, as the cartel's statement notes, free of charge.  Thus you avoid the stowage fee yet get your stuff stowed below.

The editorial board at USA Today hoists the protest flag.
Major bag-makers such as Tumi, Delsey and Samsonite are "all interested in this." Well, no duh. ​Having already sold millions of bigger bags, luggage companies could get the chance to sell millions more.

Would passengers be stuck with tinier carry-on bags forever? No, no, soothes Windmuller: "If and as the major aircraft manufacturers install larger bins, we might be able to accept larger bags." Wow. Nice job of passing the buck to Boeing and Airbus.

Th airlines created this problem, and they — not their customers — should fix it. Carriers could do that by making the first checked bag free and by enforcing their existing size limits. They could also stop checking oversized bags for free at the gate, which makes fliers who obey the rules and pay the fees feel like chumps.

More immediately, though, they shouldn't try to tell passengers that something disruptive, inconvenient and expensive is actually in the fliers' best interest.
Props, especially, for calling out the tendency of businesses -- not just air carriers -- to make their services worse whilst, without any shame, claiming they are making improvements, and for abolishing the checking fees, which would be less annoying than adding an up-charge for checking at the gate.

We might as well define our pension plan as "win the lottery" as hope for air carriers to buy planes with larger bins.  The IATA is the air carriers' cartel, people.  The cartel would like to restrict output, reduce operating costs (as in defining the sandwich down) and raise prices.  Thus a smaller "cabin OK" bag is a way of getting the airframe manufacturers to think of providing less space for baggage in the cabin, meaning in the stowage bins and under the seats.  Gosh, smaller bins, lower seats, reduce the diameter of the fuselage, then spin it as energy conservation.

Here's an anonymous editorial in the DeKalb Chronicle that gets it right.
Most domestic carriers charge passengers $25 or more to check a suitcase for every one-way trip, so it’s no wonder the industry wants to divert more luggage to a plane’s hold. Evidently 2014’s record profits weren’t big enough, while airfares were the highest since 2003.

Yet these baggage fees, which inflate the price of a ticket, lead many passengers to drag ever-bigger bags onto the plane and jam them into overhead bins, thereby adding to the time it takes everyone to board.

Major U.S. airlines say carry-on bags must be no more than 22 inches tall, 14 inches wide, and 9 inches deep. The International Air Transport Association proposes the allowance be reduced to 21.5 by 13.5 by 7.5 inches. The numbers don’t look very different, but do the math: It’s 21 percent fewer cubic inches. Some major international carriers – Lufthansa, Air China, Emirates, Qatar and Pacific – say they would use the proposed limits.

If smaller carry-ons will lead to less boarding time and less wrestling in the aisle with bulky suitcases, travelers may not mind the new restrictions. But that presumes that airlines’ gate employees will weed out bags that exceed the limit. At a time of low customer service, that’s a big if.
Won't happen. The air carriers seem determined to drive passengers to the rails, where a rail alternative exists, by making loading and unloading so painful and protracted that it squanders whatever speed advantages the plane has once it gets in the air. Now, if you build a thinner fuselage, can you change the wings and save even more fuel by cruising more slowly. Spin it as another energy saving.

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