The Trickle Down Effect of AA’s New Luggage Policy

Well, it was inevitable. Sooner or later I knew the airlines would begin charging for checked baggage – all checked baggage, not just excess checked baggage. And American Airlines led the pack last week, by instituting a $25 fee for any checked bag. I look for other airlines to follow as well. And to be fair, with fuel prices going up, they have to find some way to increase their revenue.

So how does this affect wheelchair-users? Well on the surface there’s really no change, because wheelchairs and other assistive devices are exempt from the new charge.

But the trickle down effect may cause a few headaches.

With checked bags now costing $25 each, people will be hauling more and more crap on board. Especially in the summer. This is when folks who only fly once every one or two years head to the airports in droves. And they pack along all kinds of crap with them — oversize luggage, skateboards, massive shopping bags, paintings, giant cardboard tubes, pillows and more.

And between you and me, I just don’t get the pillows. I mean, I’ve traveled all over the world and nearly every country I’ve visited has pillows. Where are these folks going? Is there some great pillow-less land that I’ve yet to discover? Sure I can understand kids traveling with their favorite pillows, but I’m talking about adults here. For goodness sakes, leave the pillows at home this summer folks!! You don’t really need them!!

But I digress.

With the added carry ons (including full size luggage trying to squeak into to the passenger compartment to avoid the checked luggage charge) and the pillow brigade out in full force this summer, overhead bin space may be limited. OK, there’s no “may be” about it. It will be limited.

That’s why is even more important for wheelers and slow walkers to take advantage of pre-boarding. Not only will you have more time to get down the jetway unscathed by the masses, but you’ll also have first crack at those overhead bins.

And remember, not all airlines announce pre-boarding, so make sure and identify yourself to the gate agent and tell him or her that you’d like to pre-board.

And fasten your seatbelts folks, because we’re in for a bumpy ride this summer!