Whenever I can, I enjoy picking up a copy of the New York Times from the Air France lounge. In addition to the in-depth reporting (and I also have to admit the comics), I like the weekly travel column. One of the instalments this year was dedicated to hand luggage. Apparently a cohort of self-righteous US travellers have taken to photographing and shaming those that travel with oversized hand luggage.
Without resorting to such extreme tactics, I can only sympathise with this worthy cause. Whether it is tourists eager to save a few euros with the new Air France “prix minis” or businessmen keen to advertise they are so busy they cannot possibly spare a few minutes to wait at the luggage carousel, I have too often found the luggage rack full to the brim.
The hand-luggage crowd is definitely one I cannot associate with. Over the past couple of years, I have flown about 70 times and only encountered two problems with my suitcase in the hold. Both times my case arrived at its final destination a few hours later or the day after, with an apology and a voucher or nothing (but I was travelling with Alitalia). It is also very rare that I have to wait more than a few minutes for my luggage to show up. In the meantime, I have been able to enjoy a stroll through the shops, a walk up or down the stairs to the quieter bit of the lounge, and have been able to find my own seat without rolling on somebody’s pair of Lobbs. and crushing that neatly folded Dormeuil jacket in the luggage rack. Speaking of which, when I travel for a few days, I usually carry one or two suits in my luggage. How they could be properly folded in the tiny piece of luggage that you will wheel aggressively towards the taxi rank, Blackberry in hand, remains to be seen.
I know my rant may make me sound like I am from a bygone era of leisurely travel, but I wish we could at least retain at least some of the spirit and conform to this simple rule: “hand luggage” means you can carry it by hand.