On Knowing Your Own (Carry-On) Limitations

I was boarding a flight recently when a young woman nearby asked for help getting her carry-on bag into the overhead bin.  "There’s no way I’m going to be able to lift it," she declared cheerfully.

Was it wrong of me to think that maybe she should have checked it?

We should certainly all help people who are injured, disabled or traveling with babies. But I don’t think healthy adults should otherwise travel with carry-ons they can’t handle. This is, in my view, a leading cause of passenger congestion — people struggling with too many or too heavy bags in the aisles as they get on and off a plane.

The young woman in question found several volunteers to help heft her bag into the overhead bin.  Later, when the passengers were disembarking, a man nearby got her bag down without being asked.  Then she and her companion charged ahead in the aisle, a clear violation of standard airplane etiquette. 

Maybe they just didn’t get it.

Of course, new airline policies won’t help anyone get it.  With many airlines now charging for more than one checked bag, passengers will understandably want to avoid the $25 fee.  So they’ll try to stuff more crap into their carry-ons.  It’s probably vain to hope that most of us will stick to bags we can handle on our own.

Yet that is what I hope.  Yeah, I know I’m an old-school curmudgeon — personal responsibility and all that.

But I have also noticed that the helpless female routine gets old, along with the helpless female.  It’s better in the long run to learn to handle one’s own baggage, literally and figuratively.  Because one won’t have so many eager volunteer porters when one hits middle age.

Believe one who knows.


One thought on “On Knowing Your Own (Carry-On) Limitations

  1. Anonymous

    While I agree with you on this in theory, I’ve run into this problem lately as the woman who can’t lift her bag. I look perfectly healthy, I can roll my carry on (usually a laptop bag) around easily, and even pick it up from the left briefly when needed.
    However, thanks to the aneurysm in my neck, it’s dangerous for me to lift it over my head into the bins above the seats. So I usually request to get on with those needing assistance (which I only get allowed to do sometimes because there’s no visible impediment) and get help, to avoid holding up the lines later. That’s my only recourse for taking personal responsibility, since the airline will not let you check laptops, and my job requires frequent travel.
    I have no idea if the woman you were dealing with had something similiar (many illnesses that restrict such things, such as MS, have no outward signs), but because of my experience, and that of a family member with MS, I generally try to give the benefit of the doubt.
    Just a thought.


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