You reap what you sow: An observation of policy gone awry

In a social modeling and public policy state of mind due to traveling to the OSD HSCB Focus 2011 conference, I had an interesting experience of policy gone awry. As everyone is aware, most airlines have gone to the a la carte baggage fees, which has seem to lead to significantly more (and larger) carry-on bags and significantly less checked bags. My flight the morning of the conference was full, and just before boarding, they made the announcement that there would be no gate check service on the flight as was their policy with the larger commuter jets (not sure if it was the regional or parent airline that had this policy).

At this point, I'm sure you can imagine where this was going to go...especially if you look around the terminal and see all the giant carry-ons. Sure enough, as you can imagine, the plane was chaotic with people trying to fit carry-on bags everywhere. At one point, the flight attendents were asking people to put all smaller carry-ons under the seats -- problematic with the minimal leg room as it is, and to wear coats to make room --as winter in Rochester involves heavy coats, which are also uncomfortable to wear on a plane. Not surprisingly, people didn't seem eager to comply with these requests...I know I wasn't jumping up to comply as I (ok, my company) paid the fee check my bag, so I thought I did my part. The situation itself was uncomfortable, but upon hearing the flight attendant walking up and down the aisle complaining that everyone was only looking out for themselves, I was really annoyed. I know she probably had no say in these policies, but it was her employer that (in my opinion) created this situation, whether she liked it or not. I just wonder if anyone in the airline management was even aware of the situations they were causing. When I got off the flight at Reagan National though, I can tell you that there were only two bags in the carousel from a full regional jet!

So do I have a better solution or would I have paid X more dollars to allow the airline to avoid this situation? I don't have an answer -- the beauty of calling it merely an observation. But I do know that I notice this situation happening more often, whether due to the economy, a greater awareness, or some other factor. After all, it will be interesting to see what happens in two years with my mobile service now that my unnamed carrier is getting rid of a token discount on a new phone (with new contract) that was enough incentive to keep me from switching.