Why Bags Get Tagged and How To Keep Them
You are about to start your adventure, at the gate, before boarding the aircraft a gate agent tells you that your bag will have to be tagged and placed into the hold. You try to explain that you don’t want the bag missing and don’t want to wait for it after landing.
The gate agent is adamant and tags your bag. You are probably annoyed by the fact that you had to take your bag from you. So why did they have to tag your bag and place it in the hold of the aircraft?
Limited Space In The Cabin
On an Airbus 319/320, you can fit up to 60 bags in the overhead lockers and in the Boeing 737 you can fit 90 to 132 (if it’s the Boeing 737 – 900 Max).
The Airbus 320 can carry up to 186 passengers, whilst the Boeing 737 – 900 Max can have up to 200 seats. It’s clear that in a full flight if every passenger takes a carry-on bag, the space in the overhead lockers will run out rather quickly.
To prevent delays, the crew will ask passengers to put smaller bags or items under the seat. Gate agents will also start tagging bags at the gate after a certain number of bags has gone through. The rest will be checked into the hold.
How To Keep The Bag With You
The only way to prevent your bag from being tagged at the gate is by either: show up earlier at the gate and be one of the first passengers to board the aircraft or carry a small bag that will fit under the seat in front of you.
If your bag is small enough, the worst case scenario will be having to put it under the seat and loose the leg room. For take off and landing the bag needs to be placed under the seat in front, but through the flight you can move it around so it’s closer to your seat, leaving the space free for legs.
You can also pay extra to get priority boarding and be one of the first to board the aircraft. This will mean that even if the locker on top of your seat is full, there might be space a few rows back and the bag will travel with you.
Another way to make sure it travels with you, inside the cabin, is by booking a seat in an emergency exit row. These rows have to be clear of any baggage or loose items, which means that your bag will have to be placed in the lockers for takeoff and landing. Flight attendants will try to keep the lockers closed and only to be used by passengers seated in the emergency rows.
The Type of Bag Matters
The type and size of bag that you carry will matter a lot in being tagged or not. If you are carrying a backpack, most of the times it will go through the gate and it won’t be tagged. It’s also easier to find space for backpacks in the lockers because there is always small spaces that are too small for a big bag but big enough for a backpack.
A soft case bag is also a good alternative. These bags might offer less protection for your things than the hardcover ones, but it’s easier to squish the sizes and fit in smaller spaces. If all you carry are clothes then a soft case bag will almost always fit in a small space in the lockers.
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What Are You Carrying?
Do you have any laptops, camera or other valuables in your bag? If so, let your flight attendant know about it. Flight attendants often move bags around, playing a real-life Tetris game with the bags to create more space in the lockers.
We care about your things and we don’t want to break anything. If a passenger tells me that they have a camera or laptop in a bag I always try to be careful and even try not to move them.
What Not To Do
There will be times that your bag will have to be checked into the hold. There will be times that your bag will be taken off the locker and you will be asked to put them under the seat in front of you.
This isn’t a personal attack. It was probably the first locker that we open and we saw that the bag is small enough to be placed under the seat. Screaming at us or at the ground staff won’t really help, after all, we are just doing our job.
Don’t threaten to fill a complaint or say that you will sue us if something gets broken. It’s not our fault that space ran out and since space ran out, we need to put these bags somewhere. Most often, they either go under the seat or if big enough, in the hold.
Try to be understanding and polite about it. Explain that you have valuable things inside your bag and ask if we can help. Sometimes we can move things around and find a space for your bag.