For years airlines have tried to get customers to check their carry-on bags at the gate. They have too many bags for too little space in the overhead bins, and boarding moves faster if customers don’t find out at the last minute that there’s no room left – possibly delaying the flight if they need to tag and load bags right before the doors close.
American Airlines is now trying to get gate agents to charge customers whose bags at the gate are too big to fit into the sizer. Some people have used a trick for a long time to bring their bags through security and then check them at the gate to avoid checked bag fees.
Now just as they’ve retrofitted most domestic planes to have overhead bins big enough for all carry-on bags they’re offering an incentive before customers even get to the gate to check their carry-on bags.
It’s a new test at some airports where customers checking in at self-service machines get offered to check their carry-on for free. According to an internal memo on the project, “Offers will be random and may not apply to every customer.”
Here’s what the prompt looks like on the check-in kiosk:
Some people will find benefit in not schlepping their carry-on, I suppose. Perhaps they were carrying on a bag only to avoid the checked baggage fee.
I view the carry-on bag as a solution to two problems: not having to wait at baggage claim after the flight, and not letting the bag get lost. However if I’m checking a bag anyway I might consider checking my carry-on as well, taking the lost bag risk, so that I don’t need to board the aircraft as early to secure overhead bin space. That means more time in the club lounge or grabbing food in the airport, since so little is served on board in the post-Covid era of cost cuts.