Was overhead space really the issue on the now worldwide viral video of a woman being dragged off a Delta jet!

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Is this the new airline battleground?

By now I would imagine just about everyone who has web access or a TV nearby has seen yesterday’s video in the post here on the blog of a woman literally being dragged off a Delta jet. I said it was “disturbing” and stand by that as clearly this is not a way anyone wants to depart a Delta jet. I truly hope the woman is OK and unlike events in the past it does not seem like Delta is going to ban her from flying, but I have no information on this either way.

Aside from this I wanted to touch on one of the apparent triggers for this unfortunate event which seemed to be over this issue of bag (or bin) space.

We all should know by now that United, who always seems to win the race to the bottom of the barrel, has stated that their new Basic Economy ticket does not allow you to bring even ONE BAG of any kind onboard. All you get is a purse or a laptop, but after that you pay on BASIC United fares.

I give all credit to Delta here when it comes to their Basic Economy “branded” fares. You will get the same great Delta service, full points earning ticket and you are still technically allowed to the standard on board luggage rules – that is, one bag that fits into the Delta Size Check unit and one personal item.

Now why do I say “technically allowed”? Well if you have ever boarded a full Delta flight you will have overheard the gate agent telling everyone that by ZONE 2 (there are many zones before zone 1 & 2 btw) boarding there is a great likelihood that all overhead space will be full and Delta will have to check your bag to your final destination. But here is the thing:

  • They will gate check it for you – FREE OF CHARGE!

Yep. Even if you have the dirt cheapest ticket in the world i.e. a BASIC E class fare you still will NOT have to pay to check the bag at the gate. You may not like being forced to check your bag, but at least Delta should be commended for doing this at no charge and for, most times, alerting you before boarding begins that this is very likely to happen.


I hold ALL 3 of these right now!

Also Delta makes it so simple to get around paying, not just your bag fee, but up to 9 with you by holding ANY of the “big 3” that is the Delta AMEX Gold, Platinum or high end Reserve card (either personal or business). Even if you only fly a few times a year it is worth holding any of the cards and get this – you DON’T have to buy the ticket with the card to get the perk – you just have to have the card (unlike other airlines). Some may gripe over the fee but there are SO many ways to get value and have the fee just about zeroed out each year!


I cannot wait to try this bag!

Another idea that I am going to try is what you see above. You see there are a vast number of smaller bags that are specifically designed to fit under the seat in front of you. This means, under Delta’s rules, you can bring this and a purse or other small personal item and not be forced to check either one since they will fit even on a full and crowed jet. Smart right? I cannot wait to see how it works out for my travels.

The bottom line is the next great fight in the crazy congested fee filled world of travel is the overhead and possibly even the floor space in front of you. The airlines only have so many more things they can charge us for before they run out of space and ideas. It is up to you and I to find ways to avoid these fees and make the travel experience as good as it can be! – René


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  1. Rene,
    After reading this I have a question that came to mind. What about domestic award tickets on UA? Will bags be allowed – a personal and a carryon? Thanks!

  2. @Kay – I believe so yes but am not a UA blogger. I think ONLY the BASIC fares have this restriction. Also keep in mind with UA you MUST pay with the UA card to get the free bag waver unlike Delta.

  3. Rene, a clip of this incident made its way onto WPVI (Philly ABC affiliate)’s 11pm evening news program, with Renespoints.com stamped on the bottom of the video!

  4. I think the easiest way for airlines to raise some revenue after the econ- fares is enforcing the size of carry on bags. As long as Delta leads the way everyone else will follow and outraged customers (largely infrequent flyers) will have nowhere to run. This would probably never impact you or I since we have proper carryon bags and know the rules. However, that occasional flyer with the giant bag will be hit with the fee at the gate generating big money. Moreover, that occasional flyer probably doesn’t have the credit card that would allow him to avoid the fee.

    Spirit already does this and it works well for them. The only reason not to do it for the big four is reputation but if everyone does it there is no reputation damage.

  5. I have put my pack under the seat in front. However, the lack of space to stretch my legs caused me physical pain. Now I check my suitcase and put the pack in the bin. I do not have problems with my legs now. I also pay for Delta Comfort. It is worth the extra cost to me. My trips on Delta have been pain free since I started using it.

  6. I see the Detroit News has the full story on this passenger from Delta, you may want to make correction.

  7. @Mike – Actually the Detroit News story, that highlights the video that broke first here on the blog, backs up that it was about overhead space!

  8. All my life I’ve only ever carried on what fits under the seat. If I have to get up, what’s the point of carrying it on? That was before some airlines started charging to check a single bag.

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