Q: Hi, Peter. If you are boarding the plane with one carry-on and they have no more room in the bins and you are asked to check the luggage, is the fee waived? Thank you.
–Linda, Hillsboro, Ore.
A: If you've been on a plane recently, you might have noticed the circus that ensues when people try to pack overstuffed — and often oversized — bags into overhead storage bins. Ever since airlines started charging passengers fees for checked bags in 2008, travelers have taken to jamming as much as humanly possible into their carry-on to avoid the fee.
In response, airlines have taken steps to prevent unsafe bags from making it on the plane. These include bag sizers at the TSA line, and stricter enforcement of bag size limitations at the boarding gate. However, because of long lines and departure deadlines, these restrictions are not always uniformly applied.
But to answer your question, Linda, the situation you are referring to is called gate checking. This occurs when a passenger is asked to check their carry-on bag at the boarding gate when carry-on space on the plane runs out.
As long as your carry-on is within the published size limits, there is no charge for gate-checking your carry-on bag when there's no space on the plane. However, if your bag is found to be oversized, you will have to pay the airline's regular checked bag fee.
Finally, I would recommend checking out seatguru.com. Among other useful information, this website keeps updated comparison charts of the ever-changing baggage policies for major carriers, from size limitations to checked bag fees.
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