6 suitcase mistakes we’re all guilty of making at least once

Oct 5, 2019

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If you’ve ever stepped foot inside an airport before, you can probably picture the crazy.

There are people everywhere you turn — not to mention all of their belongings. Lots and lots of carry-on suitcases, overstuffed backpacks, hard-sided spinners, soft-sided spinners, briefcases and duffels. All told, walking through an airport can be a bit like walking through a department store. But not in a good way.

Let’s be honest. We’ve all been personally accosted by a person wearing an oversized backpack on a crowded airport shuttle, or had a toe (or 10) run over by a rogue rollaboard. That’s why we decided to get to the bottom of this bad behavior once and for all, and polled readers in the TPG Lounge to hear your thoughts.

1. Back-attacking fellow passengers

Far and away, the biggest culprit is when people turn sideways with their backpack on and end up hitting fellow passengers in the shoulder. Or face. Ouch. It’s easily avoidable, too; just take off your backpack and set it at your feat anytime you’re entering a crowded bus or shuttle. When boarding a plane or milling about in a busy terminal, just be mindful of the extra space your bag takes up. The same way how you wouldn’t back up your car without checking to see if anything is behind you, you shouldn’t turn around with your belongings and assume no one is behind you.

2. Being an overhead bandit

Another grievance is when people put their carry-ons in the overhead bins nowhere near where they’re actually seated (looking at you, priority boarding passengers). Play by the rules and put your carry-on above your seat. Don’t make things harder for everyone else just because you wanted special treatment.

3. Playing bin tetris badly

TPG reader Daniel T. said the worst offense is when travelers “put [their] carry-on bag in the overhead bin sideways.” Ellie Sze agreed, chiming in, “Coming back from Hawaii, someone put a box of macadamia nuts in the overhead bin and refused to move them when my husband asked politely. I told my husband he should’ve crushed the guy’s nuts.”

Generally speaking, always put backpacks, briefcases, jackets, nuts and other small items beneath the seat in front of you if they fit. You never want to take up more overhead bin space than necessary because it slows down boarding, and could force another traveler to gate check his or her bag. We just did a deep-dive into this commonly-asked question, too, which you can read more about here. The bottom line is: If you have room to store it in front of you, you should.

4. Hogging the carousel

My personal “favorite” faux pas is when travelers grab their suitcases from the carousel and knock it right into you. Yes, I totally get it, your bag is heavy. But try to find some personal space before you grab it and run over someone’s toes with the wheels of your bag.

And when retrieving luggage from baggage claim, just remember everyone else wants their bag, too. So don’t stand so close to the conveyor belt you block access.

5. Letting the bed bugs bite

OK, so maybe we haven’t all been unwitting bed bug carriers, but travelers should be mindful that suitcases can be instrumental to the spread of bed bugs. So, if you’ve ever had them in your home, be sure to treat or replace your suitcase before tossing your bag in the cargo hold with, well, everyone else’s suitcase. And remember to keep your clothes and bags off the floors and beds of hotels so you aren’t accidentally carrying some (very) pesky pests on the plane with you.

6. Forgetting there are other travelers

Reader Marc C. summed it up nicely when he said, “basic lack of consideration for anyone else” may be the biggest suitcase mistake. “We’re all trying to get from Point A to B as comfortably as we can.”

So do mind those bags — and your manners.

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