Travel Light: Airlines Crack Down on Passengers’ Personal Items

Travel Light: Airlines Crack Down on Passengers’ Personal Items

By Yehudit Garmaise

Airline gate agents have been cracking down on the sizes of passengers’ personal items: stopping travelers and claiming that their carry-ons are too large to stow in the overhead compartments or under seats, the Washington Post reports.

Sergio Diaz, for instance, a professional speaker who was recently flying from LA to NYC, was told by an American Airlines employee that he had to pay $50 to check a projector that he said was not much bigger than a laptop.

American Airlines defines a personal item as “a purse or a small handbag that must fit under the seat in front of you.”

The bag’s dimensions should not exceed 18-by-14-by-8 inches, which is approximately the size of a bag that could fit a laptop. 

Charging for carry-ons is a hassle for passengers, but for airlines, the practice generates big bucks that are likely making up for revenue that was lost over the pandemic.

In 2021, forcing passengers to check personal items helped American Airlines to rake in an extra $1.22 billion, according to a recent study conducted by IdeaWorks and CarTrawler. 

The ultra-low-cost airlines, which have built their businesses around charging passengers for basic services like checking bags, refreshments, seat assignments, and even for printing out boarding passes, are now focusing in on passengers’ personal items. 

Before jetting off, passengers are advised not just to seriously reconsider their essentials, but to carefully check their airlines for their size limits of personal items.

While American Airlines exempts from their strict size limits: child safety seats, strollers, diaper bags, and medical mobility devices, Delta Air Lines defines personal items as, “a diaper bag, a small backpack, a camera bag, or a briefcase.”

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