If The Bag Fits…Why Wouldn’t UA Allow It Onboard?

Bruce Parkinson, Open Jaw

If a carry-on bag fits into a carry-on measurement frame, it should be allowed to be carried on the flight, right? It sounds logical, but as we’ve learned on multiple occasions, airline customer service is not always logical.

A hassle over a carry-on bag left an airline passenger travelling with her mother feeling humiliated and perplexed, because while her bag was within the dimensions allowed, an airline worker insisted on pushing it sideways into the measurement frame next to the check-in counter, deliberately ensuring it didn’t fit.

A big scene followed, parts of which were filmed and can be viewed here.

The incident happened at ORD as pax Natalia Rutkowski, 27, was checking in for a flight to EWR with her mother Anna, 58. The carrier was United Airlines, no stranger to pax controversies.

Natalia claimed an “extremely rude” airline staffer told her that her mother’s bag would not fit. This was after she had already put the bag into the measurement frame to prove that it fitted.

A second staff member intervened, according to the account, then a third who said the bag was clearly oversized and didn’t fit, demanding the passenger pay a US$25 fee to check it in.

According to Natalia: “Then a man came over and shoved his badge in my face and took the bag out of the bin and then plopped it back in sideways so it purposely wouldn’t fit.”

By this time other passengers were noticing the fuss and wondering what was going on.

Mother and daughter were then told they would not be allowed to board the plane, causing them great upset, with Natalia saying she “felt like I was sweating and agitated,” and her mother was teary.

“I had never been so disrespected and mistreated and embarrassed.”

Just as it seemed the duo would not be allowed to board, a fifth staffer strolled over, placed the bag in the frame and, seeing that it clearly met the specs, said “Oh, yes, it does fit. I don’t understand why we have this issue.”

UA says it is investigating. “The customer was allowed to carry on her bag. We have reached out to this customer directly and are reviewing this incident with our team to better understand what happened.”

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