Top 5 suitcase etiquette tips

We are about to embark on one of the biggest travel seasons of the year. With all the infrequent travelers soon to take to the skies, I wanted to two bags
pass along some of my favorite suitcase etiquette tips.

  1. Put your rollaboard over your seat. Ever since the airlines implemented fees for checked bags the number of carry-ons has skyrocketed. Even in a full flight there is often room for everyone’s bag—the problem is when people don’t follow the guidelines and take up more room than they need. On some airplanes the rollaboards will fit wheels in; others it’s wheels out. Some have more room on one side than the other. The more people that follow the guidelines, the more bags will fit, and the faster the boarding process will go.
  2. One bag in the overhead bins. Please, please only put one bag overhead and one below the seat in front of you. Once everyone has boarded if there is extra space feel free to stick your small bag in the overhead bins. Same goes for your coats—hold them in your lap until you are sure there is room. There are always exceptions, of course, like those sitting in the bulkhead and those with medical issues, but the vast majority of travelers need to follow this guideline.
  3. Don’t count on FA help. If your bag is too heavy for you to lift on your own then you may assume a flight attendant will help you. You just can’t count on this though—it’s not their job to help you, and on some airlines it’s expressly forbidden in their contract. Sometimes a nice fellow traveler will be able to help you, but just assume you have to get your bag up there yourself. Oh! And please don’t stand on the seat—someone has to sit there!
  4. Watch your space. When going down the aisle, make sure you avoid the knees of those already seated. Also, know where your small bag is—I’ve seen more people whacked on the head by small bags than I can remember. This goes double for a backpack! The best thing to do is hold your bag in your hand, not leave it on your shoulder or back. And if you do knock into someone, apologize profusely. (This counts when you’re off the airplane, too!)
  5. Don’t plan to gate check. Know your airline’s carry-on guidelines and bring a bag that fits within those restrictions. Don’t stuff everything you own into a bag, hoping the gate agent will let you gate check for free. Just bring the things you need! If you need too much stuff to carry-on within the guidelines, then check your bag.

Readers, any other suitcase etiquette tips that you want people to know about?

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  1. (1) Don’t bring more than 2 items to the gate. Annoys the heck out of me.
    (2) Paper shopping bags. I cannot believe that people bring these onto planes and expect them NOT to tear. Really, people! (I am amazed how often I see this.)
    (3) Open shopping or tote bags of any kind. Why would anyone think this is a good idea on a plane? Whether in the overhead or under the seat, there’s an excellent chance that stuff will fall out and roll around.

    Thank you for letting me vent!

  2. The only exception to “One bag in the overhead” is when you are sitting in a bulkhead and there is no place to stow your bag under the seat in front of you.

  3. Folks should learn to pack into a bag that will fit in the overhead of any domestic flight. Some of those so-called carry on bags people lug around these days are huge, and folks sure seem annoyed when their flight leg is an older 737-300 with smaller bins. Pack light. Be happier.

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