Avoiding Gate Checking
I am heading out on my first trip with my aeronaut tomorrow. I have to say, I have a new respect for people who are able to travel so lightly. It took me a long time to pack my bag and just things just so. I did realize if I rearrange my packing cubes slightly I have more room but in the end, my bag is packed, it is not jammed and it zipped with ease. It also weighs 30 lbs less than the last time I went away (also from west to east in the winter for the same amount of time) so that is a solid win.
Anyways....due to some weather concerns I changed my flight last minute and think I may be in the last boarding group on my flight (zone 2 for delta, I usually fly Southwest and had early check in and have no idea how Delta boarding works) and I don't want to gate check my bag, and I fear overhead bin space will be gone by the time I board. I worked hard not to have to check my bag, and honestly, I don't want my nice, brand new bag tossed under the plane.
There is some stuff I want with me for my layover and don't want to be sitting on the jetway pulling stuff out of my bag if I am not getting it back until my destination.
Any advice or am I possibly doomed to gate checking?
Well done on the first step :D
Check the dimensions are within your airline's allowance before you go anywhere near the gate, then look them in the eye and assure them that the Aeronaut will easily fit under your seat (it will, trust me!) and then point out that with your computer, iPad, Kindle, camera etc. being worth thousands, checking your bag would, sadly, breach all of their terms of carriage. Sorry the pic's a bit rubbish, but it makes the point - take a copy with you as it'll give you confidence to be assertive and evidence to make your case! Oh, and it'll probably fit in the overhead anyway- we only put it on the floor as we wanted stuff out of it during the flight.
For what it's worth - zone 2 on Delta is rarely, if ever, the last zone - they often go to 4 or beyond. Unless the plane is a small regional jet or has an unusually large number of carryons, there should be room for the Aeronaut. I fly Delta often (not by choice but it is what I have available) and have never had to gate check a non-rolling bag. (I do not get to board early since my ff status does not rate it.)
Thanks, this is good to know.
Originally Posted by rabergnc
I fly Delta all of the time. Zone 2 isn't the last, like rabergnc said. Even the smallest regional jet has at least 3 boarding zones. Usually the GA will announce before boarding that the flight is full and people will have to check their bags. They will target the largest rollers first. You will get on the plane with your bag, no problem. Because it is soft-sided, you should be able to jam it into any overhead without much issue and if all else fails, you can probably squish it under the seat. I honestly wouldn't worry about it. The only folks boarding before you are first class and the 3 rows of economy comfort. Happy Travels!
Packing lightly can often feel like playing Tetris, especially if you're trying to pack superlight and you're trying to maximize what little space you have. A lot of times, it's just a matter of turning an organizer one way or another that will help you zip your bag, for example.
As for gate-checking, my general opinion is that you will be far less of a target by the simple fact that you aren't using a rolling upright. Most rolling upright carry-ons are BIG. That, and with the soft-sidedness of Tom Bihn bags, you have a far stronger case for being able to stow your bag under the seat (like the photo in this thread).
I wound up with enough overhead room that I was able to stow my Western Flyer on my flight home this week, but I was fully prepared to keep it by my feet, and stick my Packing Cube Backpack in the overhead... it would be really hard not to find room to squish that bugger up there!