Most airlines have reduced the limit of checked baggage to one bag per passenger. Additional bags can be checked only with a fee. For a long-haul flight between Europe and the US, a typical fee is $50 to $60 per bag. Land’s End is selling a wheeled carry-on at the maximum size (22”) for just under $60. I could buy two for about the same price as one extra bag checked round trip. I travel with two kids who do not use their full carry-on allowance.
Overhead bin space is always cramped. Encouraging passengers to load up on carry-on at the expense of checked baggage is dumb. I can be sure of finding space in the overhead bins because of the airlines’ next innovation in nickel and diming.
On BA, to reserve a seat in advance costs $15/seat for a short haul flight and $30/seat for a long haul. I’m flying two legs each way. That’s 90$ round-trip. The total for my family $360 for the privilege of sitting together in cramped economy class seats that are not too near the toilet. So, I anticipate that I will be sitting in the back of the plane, hence will board before the people who paid to near to the front of the plane. We will have the opportunity to fill up the overhead bins with our 2 or 3 new rolling carry-ons.
The other consequence of deciding not to pay $360 for assigned seats is that we may not end up sitting together and we may end up sitting in middle seats. If that happens, you can be sure that I and my husband will be climbing over the people in the aisle at regular intervals to check on our kids. Our kids will be undersupervised and, if sitting alone there will be no one to let them know when their behavior is out of line (kicking the chair in front, yelling to each other, etc). They are not badly behaved kids, but sitting still and behaving for long flights is a challenge that they manage better with parental reminders. They will also be clambering over the person in the aisle seat very, very frequently.
I’m sure that many families are going to make the same decisions. If my kids don’t descend into unsupervised hooliganism (and I will do my best to make sure they don’t), someone else’s will. Whenever I fly to the States, my flights are full of international families going home over summer or Christmas vacation. That’s a lot of extra carry-ons to fit in those bins. That’s a lot of undersupervised kids.
All the major airlines waste space on their websites trumpeting how important customer service is to them. These new fees may not be changing how the airline treats passengers, but the decisions passengers make in response to them will have a net result of making air travel significantly less pleasant.
Enjoy your flight!