Another Reason Not to Check Bags on United

As if the $25 fee wasn't enough...

First off, I decided to go with the quickest option, a one-stop through Chicago, and everything went smoothly. The upgrades cleared, the service was good, and the flights were on time.

I was assigned seat 4A on the ORD-LAX flight and as I was getting settled the passenger in 5A loudly complained to a FA that a ground handler had just tossed his (third carry-on) bag from the jetbridge door about 20 feet down to the ground. I peered out my window and indeed, rather then gently placing gate-checked bags in the chute to slide down to the ground, a guy was hurling bags—and even a stroller—down.

I grabbed my camera from the bag, but was too late to catch him in the act. The FA apologized profusely and said she would go out and talk to the baggage handler (still on the jetbridge). Moments later she came back, and with a sheepish look on her face, said the baggage handler had informed her that it “was policy” to throw the bags down. Uh huh.

The passenger was disgusted and I cannot blame him. I find it hard to believe that United would issue a policy directive instructing baggage handlers to throw down bags rather than use the little slide that UA must have invested at least a couple hundred bucks in. But we are talking about UA of course.

Lesson: another reason to avoid checking bags, limit carry-ons, and board early. Overhead bin space on the 767 is already sparse and with checked bag fees and crowded flights, the bins fill up fast. Now we know why the bags often come looking so frazzled. Apparently turbulence is not to blame.

Can anyone say guitar?


Kevin December 18, 2009 at 09:17 am

This sounds like the United breaks guitar story. United must have not learned from that PR debacle that you can't throw luggage where the passengers can see you.

@Kevin: I agree. No reason not to be a little more tender with the bags.

Josh December 18, 2009 at 07:03 pm

Wait... they were throwing gate-checked bags, right?

@Josh: Right. I probably should have made myself more clear. These were bags that would not fit in the overhead bin (because the bins were full or because people tried to bring on more than two bags).

I guess a more apt title would have been, "If you're not boarding early, don't bring any baggage along."

Oliver December 19, 2009 at 02:00 pm

You've got to be kidding me! I have seen baggage handlers THROW regular checked bags onto the conveyor belt that moves them into the belly of the plane when they could have just as easily put them on the belt more gently. This of course in full view of the already boarded passengers. But this takes the cake. I can only believe that the baggage handler made up that "policy" on the fly.

Tom December 19, 2009 at 03:58 pm

I hope this guy writes and complains to United. This is inexcusable.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.