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|| News Item: Posted 1998-12-13

Travel Tales
By Ron Vesely

Enforcement of carry on bags seems to vary upon location. O'Hare has put up 14x9 "templates" over the xray machines to weed out over sized bags... But Tampa utilized "the box"...14x9x22 with absolutely NO leeway.

Travel horror #2? How "carts" are treated ... sometimes the ticket agents wish to count them as an "extra bag", while other times (and two supervisors with United have told me this) they are "bags" per se, but they "do not count against your total, as they are considered "extensions" of your large bag.

Here are the United letter snips complaining about their carry on policy: Re: New Carry On Policy

Dear Customer Relations Representative,

I am extremely disappointed with the way in which United has implemented it's "tough stance" with regard to their carry on policies.

While I am in full support of limiting carry on baggage related to the number of pieces and size, it became apparent to me November 1st in Tampa that United DID NOT spend the time to adequately research the size restrictions (14"x22"x9".....45 linear inches). I watched in amazement as bag after bag (mine included) was pulled aside and deemed "over sized" by Mr. Ron Baumann, Tampa's United Customer Service Supervisor, because it would not fit inside the "box".

Even though my bag's outside measurement was within the spec, the wheels and handles on the side "put it over the limit" and it did not "fit" into the "size box". We are talking 1/2 inch. This was the case as dozens of bags were pulled aside as "over sized" by Mr. Baumann and checked. Save time? I don't think so.

I, along with countless others, have spent hundreds of dollars each on carry on bags that were advertised as "within carry on size limits" when purchased. I have nearly one-half million flight miles with United, and up until my not so friendly encounter with Mr. Baumann, I have NEVER had a problem with this bag!!!

So now I have to by a new bag to meet United's declaration of what fits and what doesn't?? DID ANYONE CONSIDER HANDLES AND WHEELS??? I DON'T THINK SO!!!

And, after seeing the overheads empty, I asked Mr. Baumann what the overhead compartments were for, and he replied it was shared space for "hats and coats" ...


United has misled me and countless others by stating "reasonable", then publishing the size requirements without stating this must include the handle and wheels/pads on the bottom of the bag.

I feel cheated by United that I now have to spend money on baggage once again, when for years my bags were fine.

And I feel your "hard line" tactics by people such as Mr. Baumann directly contradicts the meaning of "Customer Service".

On top of this, I keep getting different replies by different ticketing agents regarding how fold up carts (wheelies) are handled. I have been told by 2 different supervisors that they are considered "part of my luggage" and will not go against my "2 checked bags" limit, but it seems the "wheel needs to be reinvented" every time I travel... agents more often than not tell me the cart puts me over the limit, and it will be considered "excess baggage"... give me a break!!! I'll tell you what, if United would like to pay for my back specialist, I'll give up the cart. Once again, "hardline" tactics without thinking.

American Airlines has already notified my travel agent that they would be glad to grant me "Gold Level" status and have me convert to American for them to become my airline of choice.

United has gone too far this time. Besides working against your customers, you have created a hostile environment, and quite frankly, travel is a headache enough without having to deal with the Ron Baumanns of the world ...

... if United could improve its lost baggage record, perhaps we would not be quite so vocal. Get the hint?

I need an airline that is customer friendly. If in my business I took your stance on this matter, I would be hurting. I hope United will soon feel this in the pocket book. I'm now looking for that airline after thinking I had found it with United.

A reply is requested.

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