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Counter said passengers might swamp gate agents with requests to check their bag for free. "Now their two minute savings just turned into a 15 minute delay," he said.
be allowed to board before most other passengers. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)
"Why would you ever pay a baggage fee if you can gate check your bag for free?" he said. "That's a loophole you could drive a truck through. I see that being tightened."
The airline said Thursday that people carrying just a personal item that fits under the seat no rolling suitcases will be allowed to board before most other passengers.
"They're anxious because they've got a big roll aboard (bag with wheels) and they're worried about having no space in the bin," Doeksen said.
Airline officials say boarding times have increased in the last few years. The airlines have created this problem by cutting back flights, which makes planes more crowded, and also charging fees for checking baggage, which encourages passengers to haul their luggage on board.
If the change results in fewer big bags being rolled on the plane, it could reduce the number of flights on which the overhead bins fill up. When the bins are stuffed, gate agents or flight attendants must ask passengers in the last boarding group to surrender their bag for gate checking an awkward situation all around.
Competition for bin space has also made travel more stressful. Passengers in the last boarding groups often creep forward and jockey for position to be the first in their group on the plane.
quest to speed up the boarding process, American Airlines is letting passengers board sooner if they travel lightly.
under the seat, not a rolling suitcases, will Gucci Belt Black And White
American said that the changes will allow flights to take off sooner, helping the airline improve its on time performance.
The Fort Worth, Texas based American tested the new boarding procedure at seven airports earlier this year and began applying it to all flights Thursday. Passengers carrying just a personal item such as a purse, backpack or computer bag that fits under the seat will board right after Group 1 premium passengers and before groups 2, 3 and 4.
FILE American Airlines said Thursday, May 16, 2013, that people carrying just a personal item that fits Lv Belts Black
If it works as designed, light travelers will be seated quickly. Fewer people will be stuck behind the inevitable guy who takes too long to hoist his rolling bag into an overhead bin and position it to his liking.
Other carriers are certain to watch American's boarding process closely. Airlines are famous for copying each other's ideas when they work. The frequent flier program became a staple after American introduced AAdvantage, and other big carriers also imitated American when it introduced fees for checked baggage in 2008 money from fees helped the airlines return to profitability after the recession.
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Here's the twist that could make this work, experts say: The airline will let passengers check a carry on bag at the gate at no charge. although they'll have to retrieve their bag at baggage claim after they land.
Kevin Doeksen, director of customer planning for American, said the change will Ferragamo Belt Leather cut boarding time by about two minutes per flight, "which doesn't sound like much, but it adds up throughout the day."
American's Doeksen said the airline considered both, but believes any increase in gate checking and loss of checked bag fees will be minimal. He noted that passengers can already roll their bags to the gate and check them there for free.
Southwest and US Airways said Thursday that they have no plans to change their boarding process. United and Delta did not immediately respond when asked if they would make similar changes.
"But that loophole would be great for people who don't care about checking a bag or have a lot of people in their party," Lopinto said. "If you're a family of four and American is going to gate check your bags, that can save you $100 (versus checking the bags) and you can board earlier."
American Airlines will favor passengers without roller bags
Travel experts think American's idea can speed up boarding if enough passengers leave their rolling bags behind. It won't appeal to business travelers on a schedule, who don't dare check a bag ever.
Jami Counter of travel website TripAdvisor said American's free gate checking offer was so attractive that it could reduce the amount American makes from checked baggage fees.
The result can be sharp elbowed competition for scarce bin space that leads to short tempers among passengers and flight attendants.
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