Why flight crews always front load their carry-on luggage

Feb 29, 2020

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Whenever I’m at the airport I’m always observing how everyone packs.

You’ve got the business travelers on day trips with just their work bag, the minimalist millennials with their Away carry-on, the families with their strollers and diaper bags. And then there’s the flight crew, with bags strapped onto the front of their luggage.

To give you a better idea of what exactly I’m talking about, just take a look at this photo.

(Photo by Liz Hund/The Points Guy)
(Photo by Liz Hund/The Points Guy)

Can we all agree that this setup seems especially bulky for a professional traveler? Why not sit that bag on top of the suitcase?

Well, after talking with quite a few flight attendants I now understand why the flight crew never stacks their bags.

I carried my tote on top of my rollerboard when I first started. My arms were sore and my hands were blistered. I mentioned something about it to a flight attendant I was working with and she was like ‘Girl use your J hook, thank me later.’ Putting the bag on the front distributes the weight so it makes pulling the rollerboard effortless,” shared one flight attendant I spoke to.

Related: What your luggage says about you

A second crew member agreed: “Easier on the arm. Most of the weight is now closer to the ground, making it easier to pull, whereas if you stack on top the weight is higher making it harder for your arm.”

Who knew?! Certainly not me, but it all makes total sense now. And it’s all thanks to the J Hook.

I’ve had suitcases in the past that have had those random straps at the top and I could never figure out the use for them. Turns out, those random straps are pretty handy when it comes to lugging around a carry-on and personal bag.

Beyond the fact that stacking your carry-on without a J Hook is less secure, it also throws the balance way off by stacking vertically, which can feel like you’re pulling twice the weight. 

So now you know about the magical J Hook and why the flight crew never stacks their luggage. Looks like we’ll have to add that to our list of suitcase mistakes we’ve all made at some point or another.

Featured photo by Faris Hadziq/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images.

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