Pet Peeve: Crowding the Baggage Claim

Between volcanic interruptions, baggage fee increases, and booking fees beginning to resemble TicketMaster, it’s not like we don’t have a shortage of travel related topics to gripe about these days. However, I’m not going to let that stop me from throwing my own pet peeve onto the heap: Crowding the Baggage Claim:

Crowding the Baggage Claim

Why do so many travelers like to stand against the baggage claim? Based on my anecdotal research, this does not seem to make one’s bag pop out of the bowels of the airport any faster.

It doesn’t appear, for the most part, to be a case of paranoia where people think others will snap their bag from the claim area and make for the door. There is no 5 second rule on claiming your bag at the baggage claim.

Generally, what ends up happening is this:

Only a handful of people can get first-row baggage claim crowding positions, so everyone else had to peak around them for their bags. When the back rows see their bags, they then have to squeeze their way through the first-row crowd. People are generally unskilled at picking their bags off a moving surface, so they get dragged along a bit, pushing the first row crowders along with them. The first row crowders then become frustrated with the people who are doing a poor job removing their bags, rather than realizing that they wouldn’t have been bumped in the first place had they just given others some space.

A solution?

I’m not positive that this would help, but it might. Airports could put a line on the ground a few feet back from the carousels that says “wait here”. Ideally it would be close enough that people could hop over the line to check the tags on bags that look like their own, but far enough away that people grabbing bags off the carousel would no longer have to fight the crowd while wrestling their bags from the carousel.

Where do I fall into the crowding scene? I’m the guy tethered to an outlet in the claim area trying to put some life back into my cell phone.

6 thoughts on “Pet Peeve: Crowding the Baggage Claim”

  1. they do have lines, not sure if I’ve ever seen them at American airports, but certainly this is a good idea they do in other countries. This means it will never be adopted in America.

    Unfortunately it doesn’t work. I have the same peeve. I’m so with you on this on.

  2. Ah, thanks so much for finally writing about my pet peeve. I’ve been in that situation so many times and it just drives me crazy. My typical approach has been to say “Excuse me” twice and then just reach through the front line, grab my suitcase, and start pulling it back through. Effective, but it makes me a jerk.

    Anyway, this post made me happy, thanks! And since I’m commenting, I love the Run Minneapolis series as well.

    (BTW, I’m good friends with Phil Bowen who allegedly knows you so perhaps some day we’ll get to share a beer and bitch about idiots in airports together.)

  3. @John, when baggage carousel crowders think that you’re the jerk for retrieving your own bag, the system is broken.

    Yep, I know Phil. I haven’t seen him in ages, but follow his tweets from around the world. Beer sounds great.

  4. When coming back from a spring break trip earlier this month this issue drove me nuts. I parked my 7 yr old in the seats near our carousel and then stood about 3 feet back from the carousel to wait. Two multi-generational groups (5 &7 people in each group)came and stood in front of me with all members of the family waiting for bags. This meant they ranged in age from about 4 – 80. Finally the grandmother in one of the groups said ” I guess we don’t all have to wait for the bags” and some on the members of her party moved away. Of course this did not include the small children. Then it all played out exactly as you described in your post. Argh!

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