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Should Airlines Charge For Carry-Ons?

Passengers abusing carry-on restrictions is a common frustration among travelers, especially since most airlines began charging for checked bags. On every flight, there’s at least one (and usually many) passenger whose rolling luggage is blatantly too big, or someone with a suitcase and a duffel bag and a briefcase (oh right, and a jacket, and a newspaper, and a snack).

At the departure gate, people flouting carry-on restrictions is an annoyance (especially if you’re following the rules). At boarding time, however, annoyance turns to dismay when the line in the jet bridge grows longer and longer as passengers already on board slow the entire line trying to wedge their Rubenesque suitcases into those skinny overhead compartments. Dismay (and now impatience) turns to outrage when you get to your seat only to find your row empty but your overhead bin suspiciously full.

I know I’m not the only one with this particular frustration. When we asked, back in June, whether you thought airlines should enforce carry-on restrictions, the answer was a unanimous yes, with folks weighing in with comments such as “Yes carry-ons should be monitored. So much time is wasted in storing and blocking the aisles and unloading these oversized bags,” “I do follow baggage rules and think all should too. What’s the point in having rules if no one follows them?” and “These rules are there for our SAFETY. They should enforce them to the letter.” Dozens more comments reflected flyers’ frustrations with the current carry-on situation.

More than one reader suggested a controversial alternative: Charging for carry-ons. Sure, the last thing we need is to be giving airlines more ideas for ways to nickel-and-dime us, but in a way, it makes a certain amount of sense. People carry on their baggage for two main reasons: to avoid checked-bag fees and to make for a faster and more convenient exit at the destination airport. What if airlines charged for that convenience? Would it make sense for airlines to waive first-checked bags fees but charge for large carry-ons? Do you have other ideas of how a system might work? Do you think it’s the worst idea ever? Let us know.

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