Wednesday, 2 March 2016

My irreverent LT column: The cabin baggage nightmare

Michael O'Leary is to blame. He of Ryanair.

No longer do people desire to put luggage where it belongs - in the hold. Today’s traveller has become conditioned. They have abandoned the get lucky destination carousel containing the multi-coloured suitcases and apparel for the nightmare that is the fight for overhead cabin storage. A nightmare that has spread like a pandemic to every other airline.

It was O'Leary, the pied piper of cheaper than cheap airways who began charging for hold luggage and in doing so sending hordes of ‘lets get there first' passengers seeking their piece of cabin storage real estate. A black friday every day on a full Ryanair flight.

This cabin baggage nightmare begins with a race to the departure gate. Your claim to that finite space in the overhead locker, only guaranteed by standing at the gate longer than anyone else. The unceremonious act of running to be first in the queue. Queues that never move, that test of patience and endurance. Long gone any hope of a relaxing airport stroll. Instead a long tedious queue of tired passengers and even more tired children - all with their cabin baggage.

Getting to the front of the queue is everything for the most aggressive, that climb over civility to get in your overhead cabin baggage claim before any of your rival passengers.

And sat there, waiting like a £50 death trap is Ryanairs cabin luggage monster. A steel cage designed to only let bags of less than 55cm x 40cm x 20cm. Where the helpless and the hopeless are seen arguing with staff while everyone waits to see if that two footed jump achieves that perfect fit. Passengers ready for the arctic rather than Magaluf wearing 3 jumpers and 2 coats. All whilst the hot sweaty queue behind looks on painfully as time stand stills and frustration reaches beach temperatures. In their trail the problem; their 55cm x 40cm x 20cm cabin baggage.

There is the heartache. The latter passengers. The kinder more civil ones unable to find space. More delay. More frustration. Air stewards demanding bags are either crammed under seats or rammed into overhead lockers. Chaotic air stewards resorting to insistence that cabin baggage must now go in the hold whilst frustrated passengers bemoan.

All because Mr O’Leary decided to stick hefty charges on hold luggage.