Delta is Trying Out Something New to Speed Up Boarding

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Delta is Trying Out Something New to Speed Up Boarding

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U.S. airlines have thrown everything including the kitchen sink at trying to make the boarding process more efficient and orderly to no avail, from multiple color-coded boarding zones to bringing in more gate agents to supervise to Southwest's mad dash to get on the plane. Now, Delta Air Lines is training its focus on something different to speed up boarding: Carry-on bags.

The Atlanta-based airline confirmed to Thrifty Traveler it just began a pilot project designed to encourage more Delta flyers to check their carry-on bags rather than bring them down the jet bridge. For the next month, Delta is sending texts to passengers departing from its Boston (BOS) hub the day of their flight, urging them to check their carry-on bag … for free. 

“Just as we’ve tested other airport experience modifications over the years, we are conducting a month-long test on select flights from Boston starting the week of Jan. 31, 2022,” a Delta spokesman said. “Select customers who have shared contact information with Delta will receive a text message before arriving at the airport with a proactive offer to check their carry-on bags. Customers will not be required to pay any additional bag fees associated with checking the carry-on bag.”

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delta text free checked bag
An example of a text Delta sent a Thrifty Traveler reader

That pilot project is just in Boston for now. Delta didn't provide much insight into how these tests may expand or what their timeline is for making any long-term changes to boarding processes.

It's also unclear who will get these offers via text. Is it all Delta flyers who haven't already added a checked bag to their reservation? Or is only those travelers who have a co-branded Delta credit card in their wallet like the Delta SkyMiles® Gold American Express Card – meaning they'd get free baggage anyway?

“This test is designed to help Delta teams better understand how fewer carry-on bags can positively impact the customer experience – from arriving at the airport through boarding the aircraft,” Delta's spokesman continued.
 

delta boarding carry on 

Still, it's hard to see Delta encouraging travelers to check their bags for free on an ongoing basis … because collecting bag fees is big business for the airlines. By charging $30 or more each way, Delta alone made more than $1 billion in bag fees in 2019, according to the Bureau of Transportation Statistics. That's a lot of revenue Delta would be giving up just to speed up boarding.

On the flipside, there's no question that carry-on bags slow down the boarding process as passengers struggle to get their bags in a bin or the overhead fills up early. Slower boarding times mean slower turnarounds between flights and more delays, which means fewer flights a day and less revenue. That's part of the reason why many budget airlines like Spirit and Frontier charge more for a carry-on bag than they do to check a bag.

This is just the latest in Delta's long string of efforts to tweak and improve the boarding process.

Back in 2019, the airline rolled out a brand new, color-coordinated boarding process with zones that match each traveler's ticket type: Starting with Delta One and first class and ending with Delta Basic Economy. Amid the pandemic, Delta stuck with a back-to-front boarding order longer than any other U.S. carrier in order to limit how many travelers were passing each other.
 

delta boarding order \

And Delta has recently re-launched an in-app system meant to reduce congestion at the gate that tracks the boarding process from zone to zone. It even sends a notification when it's each traveler's time to board.
 

delta boarding notifications
 

Bottom Line

Delta really, really, really wants you to check a bag to help speed up boarding.

Starting in Boston this month, Delta is testing out a new system that offers select travelers the option to check a bag for free rather than bring it onboard as a carry on. We'll have to see how this plays out – and whether this pilot expands to other markets in the months ahead if it proves effective in speeding up the boarding process.

 

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

198 Responses

  • This is a bit ironic, as the entire breakdown in boarding was originally caused by the implementation of luggage checking fees. Now they are simply reverting back to status quo ante and trying to make it look like an innovative concept.

    • I agree with Jeremy. I can’t remember any recent Delta flight where they didn’t offer free, last-minute carry-on checkin. Fear of lost luggage sometimes makes me pause at saying yes. But if I already have a checked bag in the hold and I’m on a non-stop flight, checking a bulky carry-on makes sense. Just do it at the initial checkin.

      • Some folks are tired of the luggage abuse. Replacing luggage is not optimum. Insurance doesnt cover broken handles, zippers, or wheels – those things that baggage handlers seem to always treat like they don’t care.

        • I work at the airline and a lot of passengers are having 2 big carryons plus coats etc when it says 1 bag and one personal item, also flight attendants don’t pick up bags while boarding …… current gate agent

          • Maybe the agent’s at the gate should go around the waiting area and tell the passengers that have to many or to big of bags they have to check them. Give them the tags with their name, address and phone number to fill out and take the bag to be stowed.

        • Considering the amount of luggage damage I have gotten, Delta MM with 2 damaged bags (one RyanAir, one American), I think this is a moot point. A new luggage bag is rare unless you are a first timer or a frequent flyer. Many people don’t invest a ton of money in something they use 1-2 times a year, or even less. So a poor quality luggage bag is more susceptible to damage from even slight handling. Baggage handlers are always under pressure if you ever see them like worker bees on the flight beside yours as you wait at the gate. If they are handling something made from eggshells…well, an omlette can occur. It’s not a criticism, it’s a fact.

        • I have thought that one thing to try is people who do not have carry on bags should be called to board first, and when flight reaches its destination those people without carry on luggage in the bin should be able to disembark first. Anything placed in bin is considered carry on. Flight attendant calls for those without carry on can to disembark on speaker. Eventually I feel people would start noticing how fast people without carry on are getting off with plenty of time to make connection flights, the amount of carry on will decrease over time.

          • I have been shouting this idea for a couple of years!
            So happy to see someone else thinking this way!

      • Nope. I’d rather have no bag at all than check one. If they start charging for carry on, I’ll pay the fee. I’m not checking a bag.

      • If we boarded faster would they actually take the time to clean planes between legs? Maybe they should take this “delayed time” to focus on that.

        However, why not require the “slower to board” passengers, such as handicap/assistance, and those with small children to sit in the back. Allow those with no carry on luggage to sit in the front.
        If I had a guarantee spot up front, I wouldn’t mind boarding last and getting off first, I’d check all my bags. I don’t want to be on the discussing plane any longer than I have to.

    • The time I traveled with Delta and arrived in Scandinavia in a winter snowstorm and my checked bag didn’t arrive (nor did it arrive at all during my entire trip) is the time I learned to NEVER EVER check essentials. Fortunately I had my winter coat with me and had foot ware that worked in the snow and cold. It was over New Year’s and all stores were shut down.

      • Delta recently checked myself and my daughter in on a flight. We went through security with our boarding cards, waited 3 hours and were then told as we went to board the plane that an employee had accidently removed us from the manifest and we were unable to fly the short, direct flight home. We were sent by Uber to another airport, and two flights later arrived home 8 hours later than planned. So far, nothing from Delta.

        • This doesn’t sound right. You could have been added to the flight and boarded. Last minute customers, pilots commuting and traveling employees are added to flights all the time. It sounds like an agent bumped you from a full flight to get a friend on. Which is a termination event. I would make a written complaint.

          • Take the 1billion profit figure out a way to board everyone from the back of the plane. Exit from the front.

    • If they are worried about boarding time.
      I think Start loading people from the back to the front. Front seat should board last. I wait all the time for people to load their carryons.
      But if you load economy first to the back, most will not wait standing in aisle to load carry on and seated.

      • Thank you! I have this thought every time. Load from the back to the front! Easy!!! What is the privilege of sitting in that small tin can any longer then I have to! I don’t care what zone I’m in. My son and myself are always the last to get on.

        • Flight attendants have said forever to board from the back first. But the frequent traveler with miles want the status of getting on before the common people. So $$ talks. And no airline has ever listened to their front line employees to solve their issues. 35 yrs of flying has taught me that.

          • Absolutely, Julie. Flight attendant here–the boarding process has always been so backwards and honestly, just a HUGE disorderly mess. Some flights are worse than others, but like you said, I don’t see it changing–primarily because of the first class pax. I feel that alone would shave some time off of boarding, though.

        • It’s the opposite because of carry on bags. Last ones on are more likely to not find space. The business traveler is the least likely to want to check a bag for reasons stated above, hence they want to board first to make sure their bag is on and close for an expedited departure from the airplane/airport.

        • I continue to see the following all the time… So let’s say you load from the back to the front? I promise you half of the back will put at least one piece of luggage somewhere along the way to the back!
          Nothing irks me more that that when I’m in comfort seating and All the bins are full yet no one is seated except me!

          Also I’ve seen many bring in a bag that should have been checked… why isn’t delta checking these bags for size? It’s takes a person with a big bag 5 mins to find a hole big enough!

        • Exactly. They don’t stop anyone from bring carryons that are too large. Also if Delta cared about efficiency they wouldn’t actively work against a second airport in Atlanta. Name a true international city with only one airport…

      • YES! If “first class” people are so vain that they feel that important by getting on first and sitting longer than anyone to take off, maybe they should consider charter flights to boost their egos. How the hell does back to front boarding NOT make the most sense?

        • For some passengers, first class is required due to physical/medical reasons. Try being 6’10” and sitting in economy! I support the back to front loading process, but secure the first class over head compartment until first class boards, so availablity is there when boarded.

      • I have always said this–load back to front. We check all of our luggage, so we don’t have any carry-ons. Since the boarding process takes so datburn long, we always wait until last call. That way we can walk right on and sit down.

      • Agree with start loading from back of the plane to front. So no one is standing in the isle trying to put the suitcase in the top bin. Also no one will be poking at the passengers sitting already. With empty seats in the front, things will move faster.

      • Add me to the list of those who see the benefit of loading back to front. While I can appreciate the preference of some to be boarded sooner, I’ve never understood why they (and especially first class flyers) would want to be passed by everyone else getting on the plane.

      • I say this every time I fly. The slow down isn’t the checked bag the slow down is their process. Their current process is disorganized and slow. If the boarded in groups of maybe 5 rows at a time from the rear it would shave so much time off. Maybe board 1st Class first, if they must.

    • Jeremy is right to a point Added to the fact that the gate agents wait way to long to begin the process. I cannot remember the last time the boarding process started on time

    • Actually, my preference for carry on has nothing to do with baggage fees. I want to get off the plane and go without having to wait at the baggage carousel. As a business traveler, the faster I get out of the airport and on to my meetings, the better.

    • I just flew a number of domestic flights in Australia on Qantas and they managed to have everyone boarded and leave with a boarding time about 15 to 20 minutes before the flight. They didn’t do anything special with the order of people boarding, etc. The only difference I can see is that they still include one free checked bag with a ticket.

    • Another thing Delta is doing is firing employees who are I’ll. Illness caused and prolonged by Delta not paying for medical costs. They would not pay medical for diabetes treatments, or for treatment and medication for someone with a compromised immune system.

      • Utilize your options under the ADA to address that or complain to the agency that manages insurance in your state.

    • Exactly. Bag fees obviously encourage people to take all of their crap with them through security and slow everyone else down just to save $30, when the best place for everyone’s luggage is in the cargo hold.

    • To speed up the boarding process, all carry-on would be checked at the boarding gate prior to boarding. The baggage porters would load them prior to passenger boarding in the luggage bins above the passenger seats.

      During boarding, seats and rows would be called, and as passengers scan their boarding passes, they would receive a tag or text confirming that the carry-on was stowed in the bin above the assigned seat. Only easy to stow items below your seat would be allowed during passenger boarding. (Ex. Small purse or small shopping bag.

  • I think this is a great idea. Actually I always check my bags and I have a delta sky miles so it doesn’t cost anything. I think in general that you should pay to be able to carry your bag on and hold up boarding and for that convenience. You should not have to pay to check your baggage!

    • I agree to a point. A backpack, purse…etc, is fine to carry-on. It’s when people have a roller and other bag, and then try to put them both overhead, that’s what slows down the process. I fly just about weekly for work, so I see it first hand.

      • Backpacks are the worst. Passengers w/ backpacks turn around and smack others with their, often oversized, luggage. I have seen young children hit by these heavy packs. Please be careful.

    • I think it’s great do that are do away if overhead bins I’ve seen bring everything they own on the plane I bring one small messager bag and that’s it

    • I think it’s a great idea…..especially if the passenger already paid for checked bag(s)….skymiles member….or even if it’s just a “perk”. Just for convenience of airline and passengers. Maybe charge a minimal fee for those ONLY with carry-on if you have to charge at all….and who aren’t skymiles members.

    • It can take 30 minutes or more to check a bag depending on the airport. And then another 10-30 minutes to retrieve it. Most carry-on passengers do NOT want to check their bag. Free isn’t an incentive. Maybe Delta should pay passengers $30 to check a bag…that might work

      • I, for one, don’t trust baggage handlers stealing from luggage, and the airlines to get luggage to it’s right destination.

        • Get off your high horse. Put a lock on your bag if you assume your items will be stolen by employees. Or drive to your destination, but don’t assume all baggage handlers are thieves and lower class citizen than you.

          • You’re kidding right? If any baggage person wants to get into your bag, a small screwdriver or even a nail will open a luggage lock. By the way, if TSA decides they need to inspect your luggage, they won’t come to the boarding area to get your key.

  • Some of the congestion would ease if they would only adhere to size restrictions of “Carry on bags” being brought aboard. Many are bigger than the allowed size and therefore take up more space which ends of causing confusion trying to get bags in the overhead. Or they allow things that will fit under the seat in the overhead. Anything that fits under the seat should go under the seat.

    • Is it possible to board from both ends of the plane? But yes, please enforce your own rules. Have sensible size carry on. Not everything can be checked. Valuables, document folders. Airlines don’t guarantee their safety between checking them and arrival at final destination. I always use the underseat space.

    • That is exactly what my husband and I were saying on our last flight. If they would enforce the rules that already exist–1 carryon that can go above your seat and one that can fit under the seat in front of you–this problem would be solved. We saw SO many people with at least 2 bags that would have to go above, a huge shopping bag, also going above, a backpack and a purse bigger than the diaper bag I carried when I had two in diapers. It’s ridiculous. And this was on Southwest where they give you two free bags to check. I’ve seen the over the limit carry one on Delta many times as well.

    • No. It’s already uncomfortable enough in those ridiculously cramped seats, so people need the space to stretch their legs. That said, people should avoid bringing more than one bag onboard if they can.

  • For what I estimate would be a de minimis expense to the airline, they could solve this problem very easily. They just need to make a gate announcement that the first X (let’s say 25, for the sake of argument) people to voluntarily gate check their bags will get a coupon for a free in-flight drink. I expect they’d have no shortage of takers, and their cost for such a concession is much less than the price of the drink.

    • SOWest has offered something similar in the past. I truly wish most people would check bags. I also think that during this pandemic airlines should board the seats to the back first. Why would a person who pays more for their ticket want to rush and be seated first only to wait longer in a more restrictive seat than the seats at the gates. Waiting for the rest of the passengers to board and hit them with bags, stand and breathe over them as they pass all in the name of being the first seated, kind of elementary.
      I guess kindergarten brains want to be first in line for anything because its labeled FIRST. Even the first to be stuck in an airplane seat the longest. Isn’t it enough to be the first to exit the aircraft after landing.

      • For years I’ve pondered why this idiotic policy has persisted in single aisle aircraft. Four twin isle aircraft where the first class section splits off from the entry door to the front of the plane, it makes sense because they are separated from everyone else so the isles are clear for the stewards to serve them preflight drinks.

      • Sometimes people store their carry ons in the first rows bins even if they seated at the back. Then there’s no space where you’re supposed to do it, and have to store a few rows behind which makes exiting uncomfortable.

      • Because business travelers want to be assured of available overhead space. If not for the inconsiderate economy traveler using the first class bins, it might be irrelevant. Believe me, we would rather wait as well.

  • the idea that checking bags as opposed to carrying on will speed up departure is a fallacy.
    until the passenger manifest is delivered to the cockpit, the plane is not going anywhere.
    i have sat on many airplanes, while everyone was on board, for more than ten minutes before takeoff was allowed.
    phil o

    • If they reduced the size of carry ons and actually enforced it, boarding would go smoother. People bring on too many bags with food and sundries etc in addition to the one carry on. It’s absurd to me!

      • You are absolutely correct! If they limit the bag size (must fit in a wooden box, like they used to) and one carry on per person….and board from the back…allowing 1st class only to board first…the boarding would go fast! As a 25 year Flight Attendant….that would be a very simple solution!!! A small backpack, briefcase, or even a small roller board/one per person would fit on all aircraft!!!

    • Agreed, but here is the thing. The airlines THINK that they want to check bags to reduce boarding time, YET when they arrive to the destination their bags are lost, not at on the flight or in Timbucktoo and its takes forever to get those bags back or replaced.. Here is case point why passengers, at least lately hesitant about checking bags. Maybe the gate agents need to begin the boarding process earlier than 30 mins ahead if the crew is ready AND start boarding. I don’t think checking bags instead of carry on is the answer to save time in boarding process. Besides, the ground crew will cause the delay due to all those extra checked bags they have to load on the plane.

    • As far as waiting for a fully loaded plane to push back there are a number things that have to happen. First off, how many planes are waiting for clearance from the tower, are there any planes in the wrong glide path when landing, are there any emergency vehicles operating at that time and let’s not forget weather. I sat on a plane at DIA waiting for severe winds to die down. As uncomfortable AND CROWDED these planes are today you can bet the flight crew can’t wait to take off or land ASAP.

  • Until they start ensuring (so insuring?) that people’s things won’t get stolen out of checked luggage, you’re going to have people carry things on.

  • I have a Delta Amex so my checked bags are free but I still prefer carry-on since I don’t have to wait at baggage claim. What gets me to “check” my bag is when they ask for volunteers to check their bags at the gate and I can pick up my bag once I land, outside the gate, never having to wait at baggage claim or hope for an overhead bin that’s not alllll the way in the back of the plane. So I don’t think I would go for the free checked bag if I didn’t have a branded card just out of speed/convenience.

    • Better control of size of carry-ons would help. So would stopping the passengers and requiring a gate check before entering the gangplank when it looks like there is too much carryon baggage being brought on. A policy of no carry ons (other than a single small personal bag) for basic economy travelers would probably also help, as it’s them, the last on board in the back of the plane who hold us all up as they wander the aisles looking for space for an oversized bag. A complete ban on the smaller bags above on those flights when overhead storage space is limited would also help.

      I’ve been on too many trips where my checked luggage did not arrive with me and more than a day elapsed until me and the luggage were re-united. Thus I have learned to put my computer, camera, binoculars, essential business & personal documents, basic toiletries, and a change of clothes plus some extra underwear in a bag that is carried on. Gate-checked carryon I will do, it’s great for all but the computer and camera which you should keep with you on the plane, including due to the lithium batteries, but never put the basic stuff you will need that night or the next day in actual checked luggage.

      • Ann Explorer: you’re another one that needs to get off their high horse. Why punish economy class & restrict them to one single, small personal bag? They w you up because they’re looking for an overhead bin? Maybe people like you who carry on a binocular, camera, computer, business & personal documents, basic toiletries, change of clothes, plus extra underwear shouldn’t hog up all of the bins. However, with your entitled, ignorant attitude, you won’t see how ignorant you sound, but you should, because someone with your high class status should know how to use proper grammar when writing a sentence.

        • Everything he described can be carried in a small roller and a laptop satchel, which is compliant with airline policy. And before you complain about someone’s grammar, perhaps you should correct your run-on sentences.

      • You almost hit the nail on the head. Carry-ons SHOULD be measured and allowed to be stowed in the space above your seat. I agree with Ang Si, you do make yourself seem like an elite “wanna-be”. As long as your flight doesn’t interfere with your comfort everybody else can go pound salt, rignt?

    • I think this is a good idea. However, your ticketing and gate personnel should make sure that the carry on luggage meets this the required dimensions. On two recent flights I noticed boarding passengers with carry on bags that were too big and had to be crammed into the overhead compartments. These are the ones who really slow down the loading process.

      Why not make checked baggage free and charge for carry on bags?5

    • Every traveler knows how the planes “should be” boarded…load the back first!!!! Those travelers are out of the way for the middle, and First class loads LAST! Why pay more for a seat upfront to then have everyone walk past you? First class should be last on the plane and first off so you are on the least amount of time, that is worth paying more for!

      • Doesn’t take a genius to realize this. So why every airline avoid this approach. And what about those experts-reporters writing long essays?

      • You are right. This is how airlines use to do it years ago. In addition to boarding from back to front, passengers should at least line up at the gate on descending row order. If they are boarding rows 27 to 17, there is no reason why someone in row 27 should be lined up behind someone row 19. Now row 27 has to wait until row 19 gets their carry on bag in the bin before you can pass. That’s what holds up the line especially on these one aisle planes.

      • I have problem with rear passengers boarding first, by the time it’s my turn to board my overhead bin’s full, passengers who board first decided to go ahead and fill the front bins so they don’t have to carry their heavy bags all the way to to back, I’ve seen that many times it’s not fair for passengers up front having to look for other available space in the back somewhere and can’t get to their bags when leaving!

  • Both Ryanair and easyJet regularly have 25min international turnarounds. Gate staff ruthlessly police the amount and size of carryon bags – often before the flights lands – charging for excess and gate checking. North American airlines seem reluctant to enforce their own rules.

  • Ok, pardon me for overthinking this, but boarding passengers from back to front would eliminate the log jam in the aisle and speed up boarding overall. The higher paying customers wouldn’t have to sit in an idle plane for so long and have everyone hovering over them trying to get to the back…why is this so difficult to understand!

  • I fly AA and I had suggested to them that they load the back of the plane first and work their way to the front. They do the opposite, front to back so everyone has to wait for the person in front of them to put their items up and get seated. It would also be less close contact because the people in the back wouldn’t be walking past everyone in the front.

  • I can’t be the only one that sees through this? Am I supposed to believe that they can’t figure out how to board a plane faster? With all the research that has been done? I can tell you one thing that would speed up boarding is to make the aisle more than 20″ wide…how about that. They created this mess in the first place by cramming more and more seats into planes. Now they want to blame it on the travelers. I flew this last week and all 4 flights were 100% full. I gate checked because I didn’t want to deal with the hassle. Make no mistake though, this is all a giant show so they can have a baseline to claim that carry-on’s delay the boarding process and have an excuse to charge for them…you watch. Two other quick things. I’m not standing in line at a counter OR kiosk to check a bag and baggage claim to pickup – that is why I have a carry-on. And as said above this wouldn’t be an issue if they offered a perk like boarding priority if you gate check on full flights.

  • Stop losing bags. Stop destroying people property the everyone will feel comfortable checking a bag. Nothing more worst than having all your underwear and clothes lost. And you have no idea where a store is to get new items then have to wash all the new things. If possible because of accommodations where you are. Or having ti speak to the unpleasant baggage agent like oh your bag lost to bad. Then brush you off.

    • How abot a compromose? Many suggest loading from the back, but complain about people throwing stuff up front when they get on. Unlock overhead bins in the back only, and when they’re full, the next bins to the front. No carryon? Get on whenever. Got carryons? Wait until the bins that correspond to your seating area open up.

    • Or remove the overheads altogether. Then it would be possible to stand in place in order to stretch one’s legs, and the aisles could stay more clear. Flyers would then be limited to the smallest of bags on board. I might actually support this concept. 🙂

  • The 2 major problem that airlines are ignoring is 1. People want to get off the plane and out of the airport Pronto. Nobody wants to wait for their luggage. 2. Airlines haven’t done jack when it comes to mishandling luggage and theft. Who wants to check their cameras and watch luggage handlers take it home. I am very OCD with luggage and I close checked bag zippers in a very specific way. One time my bag came back and zippers were moved around. I know someone had gone through it. One time my $1000 suitcase came dank with a footprint on it etc.

    Personally I think airlines know this and is trying to add a new fee for carry on because they know you won’t part with carry on with valuables.

  • A great idea! I’ve thought for a long time they should charge for carry-on bags, and take the checked bags for free. The present arrangement has a lots of people carrying on bags which do not meet the airlines’ own definition of carry-on size, and crowding up the aisles in the process.

  • Airlines are loading planes backwards, you should liad back to front, you won’t up set any 1st class passangers, now they won’t have to look at 300 passangers boarding after them and those all looking at them

  • Why not board the rear of the plane first? We did that back in the ’60s. That’s after boarding 1st class, of course.

  • It’s all well and good until they lose a bag. I was on a nonstop flight and I checked my bag at the jetway because the plane was full. Upon landing the bag was nowhere to be found. How does a bag that was loaded at the tarmac disappear on a non-stop flight?! No one at Delta could ever explain to me how that happened. Since then I have always refused to check a bag.

  • My biggest problem with checking my bags is the baggage claim process. I recently took a flight and my checked bags arrived on an earlier flight. After waiting a long time at the baggage carrousel and not finding my luggage, I was directed to the wrong location, then told my luggage was delivered to the wrong terminal. The airlines need to figure out a easier process for checked bag and baggage claim to solve their problem but I suspect they will have to use more than one method to fix this issue.

  • None of this has anything to do with carry on bags. It is caused by the airlines obstinacy and lack of logic in the order of boarding.

    If planes were filled from the highest number rear rows first there would be far less congestion in the aisle(s) and boarding would be far faster and more painless. The privilege of first class would be to board last.

  • Simple: load the plane from back to front, and window to aisle seat for each row. Most of the time wasted is in people having to get out of their seat to let the window seat person in, which holds up the line behind them.

  • As a 37 year old who packs light, I don’t want to spend time picking up my bag in baggage claim. I agree with the guy that said sometimes we all sit on the plane waiting for the manifest. ALSO, how about delta works on the issue of planes landing and there is no gate ready. It’s a HUGE issue at LAX, out home airport. We’re waiting up to an hour sitting on the tarmac, after flying XC. I have no sympathy for delta wanting to load planes faster when they don’t have a gate ready for landed flights even 50% of the time.

    • Could it be, there’s not an open gate because it is occupied by a plane suffering a late departure because of slow loading? All it takes is one small hiccup to set off a chain reaction of delay.
      If jetwayscould reach the rear door, then pro lem solved. First class boards first and proceeds to the front of the ane followed by the masses. Pre-flight drinks don’t get interrupted, or scrutinized by masses either!

  • Lame idea that will find few takers. As mentioned by others the main reason for carry-on is to avoid the hassle of getting a checked bag. If they really want to speed it up go back to boarding the plane by rows from the back first, enforce carry-on size and most importantly do not allow people to stow their bags in front of their row.

  • I bring a carry-on for a reason. No matter what happens to my check baggage I have what I need with me. You want to speed things up enforce carry-on size. The hold up is the clueless or careless travelers that exceed these limits out of ignorance or just don’t care.

  • What if i am carrying a half million dollars in my Carry on bag . The cash is totally legal from a Film Director that is Funding my travel/ Tour company for me. !!

  • I carry on bags to keep from going to baggage claim. Also, to make sure my bags are not lost or gone through. If I am paying top dollar for Delta One, I expect to be able to carry on two bags and a handbag. For me, it’s not about the money.

    • You’re only allowed one carry on and a personal item. You are part of the problem. Stop taking more than you’re allowed on the plane.

  • Simply load from back to front, charge for large carry-on. Stop giving people the illusion that being first on a plane is some type of privilege

  • News flash, almost every airline will check your carry on for free if you ask anytime before boarding. I’ve done it a hundred times… They always say yes because they want to save overhead space. This is nothing new, just hardly anyone knew to ask before…

  • The answer seems obvious to me and that is board from the rear 1st. Sure your 1st class will have to wait, but SO WHAT! If the problem is figuring out how to board faster, then load ppl from the back of the plane 1st. The benefit of 1st class is you get off the plane 1st.

  • My husband is a diamond member. We get on first. The gate agent tells everyone the flight is full and to check their carry on for free. The only way to get people to check carry on is to drop the size they can bring aboard. Only small backpacks and computers bags are allowed. These people will try to shove duffle bags on the overhead.
    Have the ticket agent have carryon fit in the smaller size and if it doesn’t fit. It gets charged a fee.
    If Delta is making so much money on bag fees they can hire At least two more ticket agents. Another trick is when your bag has a tag then you put it on the belt and go to tsa. They verify your ticket and boarding pass. It will make it faster at the boarding

    • My duffle is the size of a Frontier Airlines personal item and fits under the seat. My duffle is not the problem. The problem is people bringing multiple carry ons on, those who bring full size roller bags as carry ons, using overhead bins for winter coats, putting both personal and carryons in the overhead, etc.
      Your “another trick” makes no sense whatsoever.

  • For decades I have watched people store their carry-on in other places instead of right above their seats. Why????? I would really like to see a designated carry-on assigned section….right above where you are seated. Why hasn’t the airlines assigned the spot above where you are seated with your corresponding seat assignment.? 3 seats….. 3 carry-on assigned spots. That way you are guaranteed to have a designated spot assigned with your seat. You pay for your seat and the assigned carry-on spot right above where you are sitting. No one else should be using your assigned carry-on spot. That in itself would reduce boarding and unboarding issues.

    • I agree, but there are also inconsiderate people that want to store multiple items in the overhead bins and take up extra space. I’ve seen everything from coats to shopping bags etc. It needs to be enforced that only one carryon per person goes in the overhead bin and personal items must fit underneath the seat and if the gate agent sees that someone has to many items something must be checked.

  • Personally I have always packed one change of clothes, supplements & RX, any valuables, jewelry & camera in my carryon. Seems risky to give as check bag. Recently, best, fastest DEPLANING I experienced was on Turkish Airlines booked by Viking Ocean Cruises.. To me that’s where a carrier can save time. Turkish deplaned from front & rear doors. Gives them the opportunity to get ready sooner for next flight. Instead of thinking how to save time and inconvenience customers carriers need to think outside the box. I also had a very different experience with a British Air on an international flight where , at checkin, they said we had to check in our carryon. I had valuables $$$ and advised them of same. As they were taking my bag I remembered I had my camera with batteries in the carry on & told them so- they said they didn’t care( so give up security issues for sake of faster boarding)? I cared & told them I wanted to remove the camera battery items from my bag(which in turn delayed checking in people as they had to wait for me to go through my bag). Work in progress….

  • I believe everyone should be a signed an overhead storage space aligned with their seat as well! Then they could fill back to front!

  • Not charging for checked bags? What a novel concept. It’s almost like something they did caused this problem to begin with…. smh

    In case it wasn’t obvious, this is heavily laden sarcasm.

  • I use Fed Ex and ship my clothes ahead of my trip if possible. It is less expensive, more reliable , and safer. This can’t always be done but am surprised how often it works perfectly. I carry on a small back pack with only essential electronics , papers etc. Most hotels , if you check, will even accept a suitcase and hold it for your arrival.

  • Airlines know how to speed boarding. Way back in the day they all did it.
    It just doesn’t fit their pricing model, so they won’t do it again.
    What is that, you ask? Board from the back of the plane first, so you don’t have tens of people blocking the isle so know one can get by. It worked in the 70s,and it will work today.

  • How about building another jet bridge to the rear entrance of the aircraft. Then you can board through two doors. It may take anther couple of employees to handle the boarding process but it will be quicker and les of a bother to us passengers who get clobbered by carelessly worn backpacks from those trying to find seat 82K.

  • Well, yeah. Some of these bulky bags that passengers bring on board really should be disallowed. It’s not just the boarding process that gets slowed down, but also the de-planing process.

  • I don’t quite understand what it is about carry-on bags that the airlines don’t understand. What am I supposed to do with the things I absolutely cannot lose? all my meds, my essentials that I just couldn’t do without. It has absolutely nothing to do with the money or the time. Delta, where shall I put all these essential items? Like probably just about every other flyer, we have all had luggage lost or delayed and I put stuff in my carry-on that I absolutely cannot do without.

  • Do they not comprehend that for most people the entire purpose of taking a carry-on WITH Them on the plane is to avoid the need to wait at the luggage carousel ???
    I seriously doubt that their misguided intentions are going to prove fruitful whatsoever.

  • Yeah!!! Just what I want, a baggage handler throwing my laptop top around in the cargo compartment with a bunch of heavy suitcases!

  • If DL WOULD do a better job at limiting the number and size of carry-ons, this would nit be a problem. From my observations those boarding nearer to the end of the boarding process seem to have the most carry-ons.

    Further, Delta has done a better job than most at scheduling do planes arrive on-time – not more than 15 minutes late. They don’t seem to be suffering from late departures or arrivals for the entire system.

  • Back to front makes sense, except some people who need pre-boarding ( my mother has mobility issues due to stroke, for example).
    Each seat assigned space for the occupant’s carry-on makes sense as well. Why do people board the plane and put carryons in the front part as they walk down the aisle?!?
    Whoever believes in no carry on has either, never checked baggage, not flown very much, or been extremely lucky. Things happen.Someone else walked off with my bag by mistake. I had to overnight when a storm disrupted air travel. Plus security issues with checked bags and airline error ( bag doesn’t come in, bag is mutilated— have seen but not experienced my underwear going around on the baggage carousel). Usually I have no problems with checked bags, but I always bring my tablet, basic toiletries, fresh clothes, valuables, etc. with me. I don’t have space for all of these in my large travel purse.

  • Boarding Order, should be:
    1 families w/children, seniors, handicapped.
    2) Business & First class
    3) board from the Back to Front 50-30
    And at same time, board Front to Back 5-29 or at minimum Back to Front.
    Upon arrival, disembark row by row or 2 rows at a time.
    Send check-in boarding pass by WhatsApp.
    I don’t want to waste time checking in my carry-on, plus the fear of loss. No way!

  • After watching for years when I board a plane it’s really simple. No carry-on would speed up boarding dramatically. You want your carry-on, simple. $50. Free checked. That is why all these people want to carry on every thing they are taking with them, to avoid the baggage fees. Lower baggage fees, 50 dollar carry on. Problem solved. Now all you Karen’s can start your bawlin

    • The only reason I carry on my stuff is because I’m sick of damaged and lost luggage. I would love the convenience of not having to cart all of my things through the airport, if I could just trust that the airline could do their job. I’m so good at packing light, I can fit everything I need for a 9-day trip in a backpack that fits under the seat in front of me. I love a deal like any other, but I would pay the extra $50 to not be parted with my bag, such as my lack of trust with airports and airlines.

    • Yes, not having my Rx meds in a foreign country, underwear, toothbrush, deoderant, a change of clothes, etc. for days, weeks, or your entire trip, and having my work laptop stolen or broken is really so very pleasant. Don’t speak for me about why I carry on.

  • All airlines should go back to the old school way of boarding. Back of the plane to the front.
    Also if the flight attendants monitored and directed those who think their carry on and their personal bag belong in the overhead bin when they don’t. Your personal bag, purse, briefcase etc… belong under the seat in front of you.
    This is what holds boarding up. Those who think they’re too good to put their bag under their seat in front of them should have to travel Milair sometime and see how lovely that experience is.

  • How about they hold people to the standard first of one carry on bag? I sit at the gates all the time and watch people walk on with 3-4 “carry” on bags and stuff them all in the overhead compartments. Not under the seat like they’re told.

    Or better yet, don’t let them on with an entire suitcase. Carry on bags are supposed to be a certain size, not whatever the passenger wants. They really need to hold people to that standard first before doing anything else, otherwise they won’t fix anything.

  • Although I only ever buy economy seating and bring carryon luggage, unless the airline forces me to check my bag at the gate, which I’m not a fan of, regardless of which airline I’m using. It’s somewhat inconvenient and worrisome to check valuable items, or carry them around the whole airport. So, I agree that boarding back to front, starting with first class, is a good idea if the plane can fit the terminal in that direction. I think first class pays well enough for it’s privileges, and I don’t see why anyone should have to pay for a carryon, nor should tickets prices should be hiked for that service. Who exactly is traveling without any luggage, and why is it 30 bucks? I think your ticket should include your overhead space. I carry a fairly large backpack which fits under the seat or between my legs, but I try to be considerate of passengers when I bring it on board.

    But whatever, I’ll still take early economy boarding if the ticket prices stay the same.

  • I have the Delta card. I always fly with a camera bag with 1 or 2 cameras and maybe 3 lenses. I would never dare check it even at the gate. Loading from the front to the rear would be the same as unloading from the rear to the front. Makes no sense.

  • After flying a few low cost carriers who charge more for a carry on than a checked bag, I am convinced that carry on baggage absolutely slows down boarding and especially deboarding.

    • Agree, but
      I am reading here of customers trying to come up with aircraft cramming people into small places. Aisles built to support drink carts and not wider. Under seat space not big enough for a personal item AND your feet. Delta needs to come up with a “client-first “ solution. The tuna can concept hasn’t worked.

  • So define “carry-on”. A woman’s handbag is a carry-on. Is that going to be charged? I just started using a small rolling luggage because I either store some of my camera gear in there and I’m sure as h*ll not going to put that in my checked luggage. Also, what do you do when you’re stuck doing an overnight because your flight was cancelled? You’ll be forced to pay for that carry-on which has your overnight items or which the airlines suggested you check in and which you’ll have to pay for. Not to mention, refunds or vouchers they’ll never give you due to their incompetence.
    They need to start weighing people WITH their luggage because that is the unknown weight factor there. I’m a small person who is half the weight of many of the passengers on flights. Why should I pay the same amount as those people when they are actually contributing to the extra usage of fuel cost?

  • So I received that text this morning for my BOS-MSP flight. I thought it was kind of odd as I had checked in online with a bag, I am an Amex Delta Card Holder and a Diamond Medallion member so I would get a bag free anyway.

    I am not sure it worked unless everyone on my flight were on connecting flights as my bag was literally the only one that came out at MSP and I was the only one waiting.

  • People don’t want to check bags because of the cost, the chance of broken or lost luggage, and the 30 minute retrieval wait after the flight.

    A few different things would help. Board back to front. Make sure each passenger is responsible for their own luggage storage. For heaven’s sake. PLEASE label the overhead bins according to seat number. If you get to your seat and someone’s luggage is in your spot, much like your seat assignment, you can tell them to move it. They have to use the space designated to their seat number! And ONLY that space. Also the space under the seat in front of them. If their stuff doesn’t fit. Then it MUST be checked for a FEE for holding everyone up!
    It is my belief that the first class people want to get on first so they can get cabin service (drinks/snacks) and get their work papers/computers and phones out in order to utilize the waiting time. (I am giving them the benefit of the doubt over just being impatient jerks.) But don’t they have to close up computers and phones like everyone else during take off? And if snacks/drinks are so important maybe there’s a way for them to preorder when the tickets are purchased or the person checks in and the flight attendants can prepare the items and have them waiting for the passengers at their seats? Just a thought.
    All I know is when I am boarding and I have to stop and wait for someone shove their overstuffed carry-on into the overhead bin above seats in row 14 and then proceed to walk on and sit in row 43, it really chaps my hide. Really dude?
    And if the first-class person thinks I want to stand there trying my best to keep my arms, legs, luggage, purse, and coat from touching them while they glare at me while drinking their Old Fashioned, they are seriously mistaken. First class doesn’t always mean classy!

  • I was traveling with 4 kids from Rdu to Lax and had 6 carry-on and sky platinum and when we check in 2 luggage they deny to take the carry-on , but no they offer !?! No more Delta for me

  • Board from the back to the front. The appeal for those with front seats is they can sit in the lounge longer or not be waiting.

    Also why not board from both front and back doors? Extend those ramps and make the process quicker. It’s happened on overseas flights I’ve done. Why can’t Canada / USA also adapt this?

  • Board from the back to the front. The appeal for those with front seats is they can sit in the lounge longer or not be waiting.

    Also why not board from both front and back doors? Extend those ramps and make the process quicker. It’s happened on overseas flights I’ve done. Why can’t Canada / USA also adapt this?

    I travel light and won’t check a bag. It’s been damaged enough and adds too much unnecessary time waiting at my destination.

  • These problems all started when all airlines started cramming as many passengers into an aircraft as they possibly could. Now all you see are angry passengers, stressed out flight attendants and just enough of this to spark the unreasonable people to do uncivilized, unsafe and/or violent acts.

  • How stupid, do they even talk to real passengers? Who wants to check their bag just so they can go wait at the carousel for god knows how long before their bag shows up, or worse, it’s lost or stolen and the airline has the audacity to give you an insulting credit that doesn’t even come close to replacing your belongings.

  • What about boarding in reverse…. Have the back of the plane board first rather than have everyone in front get on first and getting their bags in the overhead making the process take longer…… makes sense and its not like first class overheads would be able to be used by economy riders if thats an argument someone might say.

  • How about just returning to the back to front boarding. That way row 32 wouldn’t be stuck waiting for row 14 to put their suitcase in the overhead compartment.

  • The small city partner connection flights already do this and it works. KLM in Europe also does it. I’m surprised it took them this long.

  • I don’t think the new system is going to cut down the delay time during boarding. Delta is putting the onus on the traveler who will have to go to baggage claim to wait and pick his/her luggage. Some passengers especially on internal flights travel to go to meetings and conferences, etc. and are times in a hurry. Leaving a carry-on at the bridge does not cause delays.
    For all flights, my suggestions are:
    1. every passenger should put his/her luggage in the overhead bin of the assigned seat.
    2. the amount of luggage allowed as carry-on should be reinforced (1 + laptop). In this way, passengers will not be blocking the aisle by searching for empty overhead bins. 3. Passengers must be reminded to arrive on time at the airport and be reminded of TSA regulations to speed up going thru security so that they can arrive at their gate on time.
    These are things I have observed causing delays NOT leaving a carry-on at the bridge.

  • i always travel with a spinner and backpack. I never put anything I can’t lose in the spinner so generally fine to check it for no fee. There is nothing I need on the flight in the spinner so I can check it but not if i have to pay to do so,

  • I’ve been a Delta Platinum member for many years, usually ride in premium or first-class because of my well travelled status, and can speak from a lot of experience and far too many back problems. I do NOT check a bag if I can help it. While airlines are far better these days about baggage handling, for you AND your baggage to make your connecting flight, too often depends on where in the aircraft you are seated and whether you checked your bag or not. Far too many passengers in the rear place their bags near the front, leaving the appropriate space full for that row, slowing down boarding as well as de-planing. If you have a bulkhead seat, early boarding is essential, since all carry-ons must go in the overhead for take-off. Now that planes are retrofitted for electric power, only middle seats have any sizeable under-seat baggage capacity anyway. I agree that boarding from the rear is sensible, but only if overhead space can be protected for those assigned to front rows. My suggestions to speed boarding are: 1. Handicapped and larger families, 2. Last 6-10 rows (usually Basic Economy), 3. First class (and military?), 4. Next to last 6-10 rows and bulkhead, 5. Comfort class, 6. Front main cabin rows. I suggest ending in the middle because you are boarding two separate sections at once; there will be shorter lines, frequent flyers tend to board faster and would be already seated when the next rows are called, and those with status still maintain the privilege of earlier boarding. In any case, when boarding from the rear first, it would be incumbent on flight attendants to ensure bags are stowed only in the proper, assigned overhead compartments. I’d be happy to board later if I were assured my carry-on was close – and not behind me. Tracy (above a few) had some good suggestions.

  • In addition to using two entry points, loading passengers back-to-front by row except for 1st Class, and linking overhead spaces to assigned seats, these three changes could prove useful: publishing under-seat space size specific to the flight reservation; and, disallowing retail store shopping bags to be brought on by passengers (except for meals).

  • They say they are wanting to speed up boarding and check bags, but in actuality if they:
    1. Three Delta flights this week they allowed strollers on the plane and placed in overheads.
    2. Not enforced the current rules and allowed many passengers with more than 2 bags. One poor woman had two roll aboards, a back pack and a purse that could not fit under the seat. Barely could get down the aisle.
    3. Placing pink tags on bags that won’t fit in overheads, and watching people bring the onboard anyhow and “I think it will fit so I’ll try it myself” only to have to get back through everyone who boarded behind them because their bag indeed wouldn’t fit.
    4. Load the families and kids, car seats, strollers and those needing more time last, rather than holding up the whole boarding process.

  • If they really want customers to check their carry on bag, then why do they charge to check bags? They only want to charge for large bags? It’s confusing for passengers.

  • So boarding will take “less” time but you will have to get to the airport 4 hours early to stand in line to get your bag checked. Because 2 hours lead time isnt enough for the 1 ticket agent to check in 4 flights worth of passengers in time for them to make their flight? Ask me how I know? It happened this last summer resulting in the worst day of traveling in 40 years

  • I’ve checked a total of five bags during flights in the last 10 years. All have been lost, damaged, or both. I’ve gotten so good at packing light, I can fit everything I need for a 9-day trip in a backpack that fits under the seat in front of me. I would love to not have to cart my luggage through the airport, but I’m sick of losing my favorite travel clothing.

  • I have flown Delta for several years. Regardless of airline, I check luggage every time. I have a backpack with my prescriptions, laptop (company policy), and headphones. Yes, having the AMEX card helps with the baggage charge, but, there is nothing like not having to drag a heavy bag from plane to plane.

  • You know what makes the most sense.. Load the plane from back to front? Get off your elitist high horses and use some common sense. If you load from back to front it is quick, no one stopping in the aisles and overhead bins won’t be an issue!!

  • I had a flight from December cancel twice. Spent hotel stays charges. Got bumped to other airline charge for one piece of luggage twice same day. Stay on the phone for 2hours waiting got tired hung up. Adumming never will see credit back of baggage charge twice. Ridiculous, what means $65 for a huge airline refund? Nothing. For me is a week of groceries. Shame. Poor customer service

  • Early in pandemic boarding back to front and deplaning front to back, having to stay in your seat until rows in front of you deplaned seemed very efficient. We have delta platinum Amex cards so check bags other than meds, computers. If international flight always pack a change of clothes in carryon Back to front and designated over head bins make sense. Delta still our airline of preference.

  • Here a free solution;
    Enforce your carryon policy.
    I see to many travelers carrying on over sized carry-on!!
    Let the people with no carry-on get on first and off first
    Start charging more for carry-on vs check luggage!!

  • Airlines are doing this all wrong! Charge to take bag on the plane and no charge to ck in! OR, those who ck in baggage are last to get on plane and last to get off plane. How hard is this concept to implement?..why should those who do ck in luggage have to wait for the clunky boarding and exiting people? This is what causes delays!! Again, if this concept is to difficult to figure out, then charge to take luggage on the plane..guaranteed, this problem will be fixed!

  • I love the introductory paragraph to this article. It must be a cut ‘n paste. I’ve flown most of the brand name airlines for business and pleasure. The repeated mythical comment that “Southwest’s mad dash to get on the plane” or also commonly referred “cattle herd” approach is made by people that apparently have never observed the process. While I won’t state that it is indeed, the fastest way to board an aircraft, it is the least chaotic method.
    1) As everyone checks in, they know exactly when they are getting on the aircraft. They board right after the person within their boarding group (A, B, or C) with a lower numbered position (1-60), for example, A11 board before A12, A60 boards before B1. The other airlines give you a group that you belong to so you only know when your group will be boarding.

    2) With Southwest, while there might be a “mad dash” to line up beside the numbered poles, which are at the gate versus the concourse, the mad dash or “cattle herd” is reducing the congestion from the concourse aisle.

    3) Actually the “mad dash” or “cattle herd” approach should be referred when talking about the “other” airlines boarding process(s). For example, as soon as the boarding is announced, many of the people in the first groups get up and “dash” to the area near the boarding lanes to “secure”, relatively speaking, their best position to get on the plane. Of course, everyone is very polite, so instead of blocking the boarding lane, the herd congregates in the concourse aisle instead, thus blocking concourse for all other passengers trying to get to their respective gates. Many times the herd extends all the way over to the gate on the opposite side of the concourse. What always amazes me, are the begrudging or resentful looks and/or comments, as if I’m blocking their access to their gate, as I negotiate the herd blocking the concourse on my way to my gate.

    4) While the initial boarding process is very good, there is an issue with the passengers trying to decide where they will sit once they get in the aircraft, due to their choice versus an assigned seat. Summer is the worst time for seat selection, all the pleasure passengers which aren’t as experienced or not used to traveling with others, are unable to either make up their mind where they want to sit or with whom in their family.

  • Here is what all airlines need come come to grips with. The issue with slow boarding times is 100% on them. First, people were used to checking their luggage except for business travelers. Then with baggage fees people said, fine I’ll just take it with me in the cabin. Now everyone tries to board at once irregardless of their zone because everyone wants to make sure their stuff makes it in an overhead compartment. Now why do people not want to check there luggage anymore? Because the airlines are slow to bring it to the baggage area, baggage handlers go through and steal stuff out of luggage (nothing we can do about that), luggage gets damaged, luggage goes missing. Basically you can’t trust the airlines with your luggage. The most they will give you is $500 compensation and ask you for receipts for missing or damaged luggage. Who keeps receipts for all their items, particularly for items over two months? That is why people do not want to check there luggage and why the boarding process is a mess. Feel free to send to the airlines so they have a come to Jesus moment and understand they need to order aircraft with sufficient overhead bin space, it’s that simple.

  • Believe you me, I would rather just check my bags than deal with the hassle of brining on a carryon. BUT since I have a lot of medication I have to bring with me for my epilepsy, it is most preferred to take it incase your bags get lost! I could live without having a carryon when I go. It is very much in the way especially when boarding and your seat is at the very back of the plane.

  • I am a traveling photographer. My camera body costs $6000. On lens costs more than my camera body. I refuse to hand over this expensive equipment. Then there is my laptop and supporting equipment.

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