This video of Air Canada baggage handlers tossing gate checked bags was uploaded on Thursday. It was taken before a flight from Toronto to Vancouver. Air Canada is investigating.
“The gate check, unfortunately, turned into a gate toss,” Stewart said.
The video runs a little over a minute and shows a baggage handler dropping items from the top of a movable staircase into a bin, which a second handler then moves into a nearby vehicle.
I never want to have to gate check bags. I also hate to board first. I don’t want to spend 20 minutes on the plane more than necessary, especially in a coach seat. I’d rather work a few more minutes in the lounge or spend the time picking up a bottle of water or snack near the gate.
The key is to not be last, or rather not to be among the last to board so that you don’t wind up being asked to gate check your bag.
Strategies to avoid having to gate check your bag:
- Make sure the bag isn’t too large (that it meets the airline’s regulation specs, even fully packed and bulging).
- Plan ahead. Earn elite status with the airline you fly or one of their partners, or sign up for the co-brand credit card of the airline you tend to fly the most.
- Consider buying priority boarding, some airlines like US Airways sell it, it may seem frivolous or a waste but it can also be had for just $10.
- Just board early. Not every gate agent will enforce the boarding order.
- If asked to gate check, remain polite, mention perhaps that you’re connecting on a separate ticket to an airline your carrier doesn’t have an interline baggage agreement with and you could at least try to find some space?
- Once on the plane, take any space you can find don’t wait until you get all the way to your seat if you’re in the back of the cabin. You might get glares, but there may be room in the first class bins and that carries the added benefit of your not having to schlep the bag all the way to the back and also that it’s already near the front of the plane when you’re ready to disembark.
- Worst cast be very nice and again polite and ask a flight attendant at the front of the aircraft if you might be able to store your bag in a closet.