I’ve been traveling a lot lately, and there’s a certain set of my fellow travelers who stand out. It’s not the people with kids, or the businessmen in their suits, or the harried wives dragging along irresponsible husbands who have no idea how to manage any complex task in their lives apart from golf, it’s not even the four rows of people behind me on an earlier flight who were obviously related because all four generations of these blondes had exactly the same hairstyle. No, it’s the people with the bags, those two large wheel-on bags that the rest of us check and that they, somehow, have the gumption to try to squeeze into the overhead compartments.
It’s not that I begrudge them their opportunity to take all of their bags on-board, rather than checking them; goodness knows, everyone wants to do that. It’s, rather, the impracticality of their hopes. The People With The Bags don’t have those little wheel-on bags, the cute ones you see at Costco and Target that fit, at most, three days worth of clothes. No, the People With The Bags have two hefty roll-ons, each containing ten days of clothes and a selection of footwear. Sometimes, one of the roll-ons will be a duffel bag the size of an entire overhead compartment; but the best shows come when one of the bag is a haphazardly-packed department store paper bag with handles. This bag always contains several framed pictures, snack foods, and, sometimes, fuzzy slippers.
Now, there is one advantage to the super-sized duffel bag: it can be squished and doubled over and contorted until it fits. Sometimes. The roll-on can’t, although the Person With The Bag will usually find space overhead for one of their two roll-ons. They’ll then wander the length of the aircraft, second bag in tow, trying to find another overhead compartment for their carry-on. When the flight attendant tries to check their bag, they’ll concoct complex rearrangements of other passengers’ luggage, moving that backpack to a second overhead compartment, the hat and coat to a third, and a camera from the second compartment to a fourth in order to make room for the backpack. The flight attendants just nod, smile, and then shoo The Person With The Bags back to their seat, where The Person tries, vainly, to shove the roll-on under the seat in front of them. Later, the flight attendant passes by and, noticing that The Person’s feet are squeezed entirely under their seat by the protruding bag, finally check the offending luggage.
Now, I’m going to board a new plane in the next ten minutes, and I’m looking forward to seeing the dance of The People With The Bags. Maybe some of them will succeed; but, as I’m stuck in a middle seat for the next five hours, I suspect the plane is full and all extra baggage will be sent below straight away.