Airport Travelers Plagued By Luggage Problems


Packing for a family vacation can be a challenge, but when you stop and think about it, luggage is the bane of a traveler’s existence from start to finish.

It’s one thing to cart around and keep track of your own belongings, but when you have little ones, the problems start to escalate and so does Mommy’s blood pressure.  Small children require a lot of gear and are completely dependent on Mom and Dad to carry it all for them, somehow.

So we cart the suitcases and the backpacks and the diaper bags and the car seat and the stroller and the baby and our own luggage, through the airport.

We offload the big cases at check in, we gate check the odds and ends and we carry the rest onto the plane with us.  We do our best to drop everything off at the right place, at the right time and then we do our best to collect it all again, at the right place, at the right time.

A report, released this week by Amadeus, found that 34% of air travelers reported being inconvenienced, during their last airline experience, by baggage woes at some point in the journey; be it at check in, drop off or luggage pick up.

The unpleasantness is deepened by the $15-$40 fee, per checked bag, charged by most American air carriers.  Since 2005 U.S. airlines, excluding JetBlue and Southwest, have been charging customers to the tune of $6 billion in added revenue.

The result – passengers carry on anything and everything they can, swamping the security screeners and increasing wait times.  The increase in the amount of luggage, in need of screening, has not resulted in an increase in staff or X-ray machines.

Geoff Freeman, executive vice president of the U.S. Travel Association says, “You have the same number of machines (X-rays) and 50 percent greater traffic coming through them.”

Freeman is concerned that the increase in traffic is compromising security efforts, “It’s just common sense, the more traffic coming through the same system, the less people are able to focus on each specific piece.”

T.S.A. spokesperson, Greg Soule, defends the state of airport security, “The number of bags brought to the checkpoint may affect passenger wait times, but not the level of security that we provide, which is our priority.”

So, what’s to be done to rectify the situation?  Implement a fee increase, of course.

The Department of Homeland Security has proposed that, as early as 2012, the passenger security fee should be increased from $2.50 to $4.  The proposed fee hike would bring in an estimated $600 million a year.

As travelers, there isn’t much we can do.  Grumble as we might (and do) these are just the hassles and costs of air travel in the 21st century.  If we were going to give up flying because of luggage problems and long lines at security, most planes would be half empty, but they’re not.  They’re full, and that’s because the payoffs of travel far out way the headaches.

So, take a deep breath and a long dreamy look at your vacation brochure; then run the airport gauntlet like the gladiator you are, because it’s not likely to improve any time soon. – Jen R, Staff Writer