Overhead space issues

December 06, 2010 2 Comments A+ a-

My husband arrived home from his year-long deployment in Germany late yesterday evening.  We had an interesting conversation over a long-awaited-Mexican dinner about baggage in overhead compartments.  One of the Flight Attendants on his flight from Germany had moved him forward to the bulkhead seat, which gave him extra legroom. Just prior to landing he moved back to his original seat, so he would be able to retrieve his bag from its' place, without having to try and move backwards against the flow; or (horrors!) wait until the crowd was off the plane and he could move back to it freely.

He mentioned how inconsiderate he thought it was that people put their coats in the overhead compartment, thus depriving other passengers of space to put their suitcases.  I absolutely agree!  I told  him how I used to move suitcases, and pull down coats, to provide room for those passengers just starting to board.

We make many, many announcements in the Winter, during boarding, requesting folks to hang on to their coats and hats, and to place their suitcases "wheels first."  No one really listens, and the bins fill up with coats, and sideways suitcases.  I'd "spin the bags" and ask the coat-people to hold on to their big ol' puffy jacket until we had all the bags put up, then I'd stow it for them.

Then two things happened.  The most important was that I'd notice my shoulders would start to hurt and be sore after a three or four day trip of doing all this bag turning.  This was bad, because I knew if I injured my rotator cuff, I was on my own--the airline does not cover this type of injury with Workman's Comp.

The secondary thing I noticed was--it didn't improve the passenger's attitude onboard. The people's whose coats I asked them to hold on to it for a few minutes were shocked and pissed, frankly.  And the guy that I found space for?  It didn't seem to make him want to be nice to us, my actions didn't elicit a "thank you" and I was breaking a sweat and no one seemed to care.   (Really, a simple thank you goes a long way.)

So, I've stopped.  And, everything is the same.  Well, except for the poor souls who end up having to check their bags.  And, I'm sorry for them, really.  Their fellow passengers needed to stuff their coats up there....and their Flight Attendant won't help.

At least my shoulders don't hurt anymore.


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December 7, 2010 at 9:46 AM delete

I'm horrified that Workers Comp dos not cover this kind of injury. How ridiculous. If managing passengers and their carryons is part of your job it should be covered. It's another example of how badly airline employees can be treated.

But here's what struck me about your post: As much as I get where you're coming from, and as a FF and sometimes a VFF, I get it, I do.... I think it's important to do a job regardless of whether it's appreciated or not. Frankly, if I waited for a thank you from all my clients I'd still be waiting.

If part of the job is to maximize available space in the luggage compartment, then why should it matter whether customers appreciate it or not? Why not just ask "who's bag is this?" and have THEM move it.

The other thing is that gate agents rarely enforce carry-on limitations. I seriously think that they should require everyone to slide their bag into one of those "size test" things to see if it fits the requirements and they should stop people who are carrying on two bags and a personal item.

Don't get me wrong, I've often wanted to carry on too much. But I don't.

anyway, I get that when you're a veteran FA or if you've been doing a service job so long you burn out on the discourteous customers, but at the same time, if the job is to manage customers and their carryons and to be pleasant, I think how they act should be irrelevant to your performance.

For more than a decade I flew a major airline four times a month. Then I happened to fly a different major and was stunned at how nice the FAs were. How pleasant it made my flight. I changed airlines. It just was a better experience. Just saying.

December 8, 2010 at 1:12 PM delete

You and I share the SAME experience. For all the care and effort, all you get is injured and no appreciation. Oh, well....At least, our shoulders don't hurt anymore.
Even if I can't help, I have learned to look (and be) really sympathetic. And I have even learned ways to put a positive spin on checking someone's bag.

"Why don't you let me check that for you? It will be so much easier on you not having to drag that heavy ole' thing through the airport."