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Air Travel Carry-on Advisory

By Larry Benedict

o Carry-on luggage is getting a definite squeeze this summer as airlines begin to enforce their long-standing Carry-on rules.

o For years the airlines have looked the other way as embarking passengers drag an outlandish variety of items on with them, from antiques to fishing rods. Usually, however, the annoyance is limited to huge duffel bags masquerading as purses, hanging bags jammed with belongings and laptop computers in addition to the Carry-on limit.

o There are many reasons for this abuse and a few seem quite legitimate, such as the fear of lost luggage, abnormally long waits at the carousel, and the need to get business work done in the air. The result, however is a surprising amount of time lost when the moment comes to de-plane. Passengers with too much Carry-on must use overhead bins that are several rows from where they are seated. Confusion reigns in the aisles, as passengers try to remove a collection of things too wide to go between the seats and time is wasted as the cabin crew wrestles with too many Carry-on items. It really isn't fair to those passengers who don't abuse their privilege and who must share the considerable cost of extended time parked at the boarding gate.

o This summer, travelers should be aware of "sizer boxes" placed near check-in counters and make sure their carry-ons fit. This will save them the embarrassment of being told to remove the item later and check it with the rest of the baggage. US Air requires overhead bags to be no more than 10 inches by 16 inches by 24 inches and under-seat bags must measure no more than 8 inches by 16 inches by 21 inches. Garment bags are limited to 45 inches long by 4 inches wide by 23 inches across. Purses must not be over 18 x 12 x 4 inches. All airline requirements differ slightly, however and you could find yourself having to check your Carry-on item halfway through your journey if you're going to be changing planes. Many commuter airlines, it should be noted, allow only one Carry-on bag.

o At first this crackdown seemed like one more attempt to penalize the passenger but given a little thought, it makes sense for everyone. Reduced turnaround time at the gate will improve efficiency and cut costs. Passengers with connecting flights will appreciate a quicker departure from the aircraft and the cabin crew will have more time to assist those who really need it. In fact, it's good to know this area of passenger frustration is finally being addressed. From now on we'll pay much more attention to those odd little containers at the departure gates know as "sizer boxes."

o Also note that discounted airline tickets are now more available than ever. Related Airline Ticket Sites...

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