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Here’s Why Airlines Make You Check Your Bag At The Gate

By Rachel George

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The whole point of a carry-on bag is to carry your bag on the plane. Everyone wants to skip the crowded baggage claim areas. But some airlines are making you check your bag at the gate and here’s why.

Aviation economics expert Samuel Engel said the biggest hold up for boarding delays are carry-on bags. Some travelers just do not trust airlines when it comes to the care of their personal items, so they will check their bag. Others don’t want to pay the high price of baggage check at various airlines, ranging anywhere between $25-$110, depending on size and weight. Airlines such as Delta and American Airlines don’t charge for the first carry-on bag. Anything over 50 lbs, is automatically up-charged. Basically, its time to pack light or not pack at all.

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Recently, United Airlines announced that basic economy passengers must check their carry-on bag at the gate, plus paying the bag fee. Spirit Airlines charges $50 in person for carry-ons and $38 if you check in online.

Sara Nelson spokeswoman for the Association of Flight Attendants said flight attendants would manage the boarding process much more smoothly. “There used to be at least an additional gate agent and one additional flight attendant so they could walk up and down the jet bridge and talk with each other,” she said. Now, there must be at least two flights attendants for flights with 50 passengers or more.

RELATED: This Major Airline Beat All Others In Discrimination Complaints For 2018


According to Vox, airlines tend to perfect their performance, leaving the heat to come down on gate agents. Part of a gate agent’s job is to observe passengers with carry-on bags and their size. Within 20 minutes, they must secure each passenger in their seat, secure the overhead bins and inform passengers of airplane safety. All doors must be closed 10 minutes before the plane takes off.  A gate attendant at Dallas Forth Worth airport Chris Kress said you could be written up or fired for taking any longer.

Kress said there is not one airline that can oblige each passenger’s overhead bin space and people have learned how to beat the weight system. “The bigger the carry-on bags, the less space for everyone else’s,” she said. Passengers are encouraged to place their bag underneath the seat in front of them. But sometimes its still not enough.

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