When is a Carry On Not a Carry On?


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A carry on piece of luggage is not a carry on when you are flying the airline Air Canada Rouge.

I woke up and it was still dark and I thought I was having a nightmare but it turned out to be a true airline story.

If you have read my blog before you know that I’m a global traveler with a Nexus card. On this particular adventure my boarding pass said, “You have been cleared for TSA expedited travel. Please see ticket counter agent to reprint boarding pass.”

In hindsight the first mistake I made was approaching the ticket counter in the first place.

From start to finish the experience was nothing but horrific.

The experience started with three employees talking to one another while my business partner and I waited patiently to be acknowledged.

It literally took 18 minutes for the one employee who finally acknowledged us to produce two boarding passes and after that she said we must weigh our carry-on bags.

I said, “Ma’am these are both regulation size carry-on bags, additionally we both have been traveling with these same carry-on bags all over the world and they fit above every compartment.”

She said, “I know but we still have to weigh them.”

I put my bag on the scale and it weighed 23 pounds. My partner put hers on the scale and it weighed 24 1/2 pounds.

She said, “Oh no, you’re going to have to check these bags. Or you can remove 2 1/2 pounds out of them and you won’t have to check them.”

I said, “You’ve got to be kidding me right? This is some type of joke.”

She said, “No. You’re going to have to check both of these bags or remove the 2 1/2 pounds.”

I said, “That doesn’t make any sense! This bag is regulation size and fits above the seat. The weight will be the same whether you put it in the belly of the airplane or above my seat like I do in every other flight on every other airline.”

She said to either take out 2 1/2 pounds out or we would have to check the bags.

My partner at this point said, “Let’s just leave the bags and go get on the plane.”

If any of you have flown Air Canada Rouge you know the experience is like going to the dentist.

Now, if I would have merely got my TSA boarding pass printed at a kiosk, I would’ve put the bag on the plane like all the other passengers who had even bigger bags than mine.

The challenge is 22 pounds is the company’s “policy” and this employee was just holding up the company “policy”.

The real problem around the customer experience is that they don’t enforce it consistently.

Many other passengers had bags that were bigger and heavier than my small 24 pound carry on.

If I had not talked to a human being I would have had a bad experience, but not horrific.

Of course when we got to baggage claim our bags were not there!

If you want to hear the rest of this horrific customer experience tune back in.

Republished with author’s permission from original post.

Peter Psichogios
Peter Psichogios is the President of CSI International Performance Group whose mission is to help companies create engaging employee and customer experiences. Prior to joining CSI International Peter served as an executive member of one of the largest Instructional System Association companies in the world. In this capacity, he led all the front-end analysis and worked directly with Dr. Ken Blanchard. Peter has been fortunate to work with the who's who of the Fortune 500, helping them deliver innovative learning, engagement and recognition solutions.


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