KAMLOOPS — Despite my obvious physical challenges, I would much prefer to fly at Christmas than drive. My theory is simple — I would rather be stranded at either end of the trip than in the middle. That theory was supported by the many road delays last week on our major highways.
But my biggest concerns about flying are dinky aircraft not even made for normal-sized humans and the efforts of travellers to save the costs of checking bags by piling everything they can into a carry-on case before trying to jam it into increasingly small overhead containers. It’s about time airlines got serious about this issue, which is in many cases becoming a safety concern. Trying to force overhead bins to close when ski boots, huge backpacks and carry-ons way too big for the bins are jammed inside is like watching the clowns in the circus trying to get in and out of those small cars they drive around the big top. Every see them? That’s what flying reminds me of. It’s bad enough that the newer planes that some of the airlines use are so cramped and flimsy you think you’re going to snap the back of the seat if you lean on it, but their overhead storage is smaller too, and that becomes a danger.
When we flew to the coast before Christmas, Air Canada really made an effort to ensure that people checked to see if their carry-on would fit in that little test rack they have at the counter. In fact, they made several people check their bags instead of carrying them on. But that was the only time it happened, and while we were waiting to come back after the holiday, there were no flights I saw where they really checked. Other airlines were the same.
I know people don’t want to pay to have their bags checked, but if you’re going to fly, that’s just one of the extra charges you have to incur. The answer is not to try and cram everything you own into a case that isn’t going to fit, and then get ticked off when you’re called on it. And it doesn’t help when airlines do a poor job of enforcing the rules. They talk about it when they make the passenger announcements, but they don’t follow through when it comes to practicing what they preach.
I have never gone over the baggage weight limit and I have packed more than enough in a suitcase to last up to 10 days away. Pay the $25 it costs to check a bag, and don’t be stupid enough to try and put your life’s possessions into a carry-on that just isn’t going to make it.
And airline personnel, when you see people carrying a backpack that’s bigger than they are, call them on it. It’s a safety issue, and it needs to be enforced for the comfort of all those who have to cram their bodies into seats that are way too small, let alone try to pack their worldly treasures into a bag that’s bigger than they are. Surely this is not rocket science. It only makes good common sense. Of course, using good common sense these days is not something many of us do.