When does 1 inch cost $200?

carryonI am all for businesses making fair money. I am even understanding of cost increases that need to be passed along. But this one SO angers me, I am about to support John Madden’s eccentric refusal to fly — though out of anger not fear.

I just had to shell out over $200 to purchase a new carry-on to replace the mint-condition TUMI I invested in over a decade ago, precisely for its advertised quality and longevity. Why? Because now that the airlines have downsized their silly little silver metal pre-gate “luggage nazi” so that more people have to pay the $25 baggage fee, the vast majority of bags manufactured specifically to be carry-on bags, no longer fit. (They still fit in the plane, just not in the little “luggage nazi.”)

Yet big, expensive brands like TUMI and Hartman still manufacture and sell “carry-on” bags that no longer fit the requirements. But unless you shop knowing the exact measurements (that I swear change by the minute), you will easily buy a suitcase that risks the dreaded “Gate check!” (And yes, it’s arbitrary. One day carry-on the size of a lawnmower is allowed, the next you get held up for having an extra book! But I guess that’s how they got their $3.4 BILLION in baggage fees!)

I spent more than an hour in a store comparing the measurements of case, after case, after case — all billed as *carry-ons.* 99% would have been disallowed.

So who will be the smart luggage manufacturer who gets a handle on this issue? (no pun intended) Who will stand up and say “THIS is the largest officially sanctioned carry-on available. If it get’s Gate Checked, we’ll pay for your flight” ??? Or how about following Best Buy’s lead: “If the restrictions change, you can trade in your bag.”  Both viable marketing offers to help out the buying public. Please someone try!

Or airlines, charge me $25 more in my ticket and stop the silly games.

Travel, once so exciting and enjoyable,  has become enough of an over-priced, hidden-feed hassle. I never believed they could find a way to make it worse. I have my requisite zip-topped bags, live with the 3.5 oz. or less, have even figured what clothes to travel in so I don’t end up strip-searched at the gate. But given that this last inch has just cost me more than the proverbial mile, I may be staying home.

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