Today FlyerTalk.com had an interesting article today about Emilie de Ravin taking to twitter to “call out” American Airlines for their rude behavior when taking her carry on bag. Although I disagree with Emilie about firing an employee for taking a carry on bag, I do think there is an issue. I honestly believe that gate agents at American Airlines focus on women when it comes to carry on baggage sizes.
Let me be clear, I am not trying to say American Airlines is an evil company or anything like that (although recent devaluations and “enhancements” to the AAdvantage program may support that view). I am simply saying that from this story and from my personal experiences, I believe that gate agents tend to focus on taking carry on baggage from women when boarding the plane. I know this is a bold claim, but I have seen the same situation all to many times and I think it is worth mentioning.
When I first started traveling for work, I would often fly with a female coworker. She did not have status of any kind with the airline and would often board in Group 1 boarding. I realize at this point, overhead bin space is filling up, but roughly 50% of the time, a gate agent would insist she check her bag. Her bag was within the airline dimensions and fit in the carry on size measurer, but gate agents would say she “forced” the bag to fit and it would not fit in the overhead bin.
I also travel with my girlfriend quite a bit and this issue again arises. We bought the exact same Samsonite bag (she wouldn’t let me get Orange) and I have never once been questioned about the size, but when leaving LGA the gate attendant nearly ripped the bags from her hand. We were boarding early with the Executive Platinum / Platinum members so overhead bin space at this point was not an issue. Again, the bag fit in the carry on size measurer next to the gate door and yet the gate agent demanded she check her bag.
The third instance happened just this past Sunday and again leaving LGA airport. A friend of mine had a carry on that fit within the measurer and was again told to check her bag.
I realize some soft shell carry on bags expand slightly when stuffed, but in all of these situations, none of the bags looked unreasonably stuffed. What is more interesting is a few months back I had to take a two week trip and packed accordingly. My bag was so stuffed it did NOT fit in the overhead bin and no one from American Airlines gave it a second look. All of these situations lead me to believe that American Airlines tends to single women out when telling customers to check “oversized” carry on luggage.
I definitely do not think this is American Airlines explicitly telling their gate agents to focus on women’s bags at all. I believe gate agents are looking for women because in general they tend to pack more than men and in general will put up less of a fight when confronted. To avoid this situation, I think American should simply tell passengers in Group 3 or higher that they MUST check their carry on bag to their final destination free of charge.
Again, I am not trying to say that American Airlines is training gate agents to take women’s bags, but am simply trying to point out that from my experiences and the FlyerTalk story it seems gate agents tend to focus on women’s carry ons and are often forceful and rude in the process.