Etiquette tip: The right way to move someone else’s bag.

Being one of the last groups to board a flight can be stressful.  Flight attendants are pushing you along to get 4-23-15-2boarded as quickly as possible.  You’re surrounded by people staring at you like you’re the in-flight entertainment as you struggle to find a place to store your bag.  And then once you find a place for your bag it won’t fit!  It’s almost comical how difficult it can be for a late boarder to get situated on a flight.   I’ve been there, I get it.

Luckily most of the time when I board I am able to board early because of status. Once I get my bag in the overhead bin and get seated I’m typically not one of the people staring at late boarding passengers.  I usually have plenty to work on when I get seated, and if I don’t have work to do I’ll be reading my Kindle.  However, that might change after one of my most recent trips.

After a very uneventful flight I got up to get my bag from the overhead bin above my row, where I had placed it just two hours before.  When I got up and looked in the bin my bag wasn’t there.  What the heck!  My stomach dropped.   Did someone take my bag? Has it been stolen?  I looked around kind of panicked and turned to the people behind me and told them that my bag wasn’t where I put it.  Thankfully everyone was patient and we found it a couple of bins back.  It was a huge relief.

What happened?  I can only assume that another passenger moved my bag to another spot to make room for their own.  On the rare occasion when I happen to be people watching I’ve seen passengers move another person’s bag without permission, but it has never happened to me before this flight.  What’s the proper travel etiquette for moving someone else’s bag?  Ask permission!  Partially pull out the bag you want to move from the overhead bin so that people can see the bag.  Then ask the people around you whose bag it is, and if you can move it to a particular spot so that your bag will fit in the overhead bin space.  Or, ask a flight attendant for help if they’re within reach.  But for crying out loud don’t just move someone’s bag and not tell them.  It’s selfish and could cause major confusion.  In the near future I may be doing a little more people watching to keep an eye on my bag.  And if you happen to move my bag without permission be prepared for me to call you out on it.

Readers, has anyone moved your bag without asking? Do you usually ask before moving someone else’s bag?

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  1. I have an even better story for you. I was once accused of moving someones bag even though I was first to board and they boarded at the end. Even when I pointed this out they failed to grasp the logic and insisted it was me.

  2. If your bag fit “a couple of rows back”, and their bag fit where yours used to be… before they moved it? Some people’s children…

  3. I’ve had FA’s try to move my undersized soft sided Travel Pack bag to make room for an oversized expanded stiff wheelie bag from someone that boarded late. I made a comment that I followed the rules on the sizing so shouldn’t be penalized by having my bag moved. He left it alone. I was catching an international connection on that trip so was a little hypersensitive about staying in control of my belongings.
    I do find that people want to move my soft-side bag because it is a soft side. In their mind my bag isn’t a carry on because it is lacking wheels.

  4. There is no reason whatsoever to ever move anyone eleses bag. They paid for the seat, the storage, and the boarding order is typically a function of customer loyalty, spend and miles traveled. There is no reason why MY bag is your problem. Your bag is your problem.

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