Reduce travel stress: Abolish giant carry-ons - Rob Felt

Dozens of people are clogged at the end of the loading ramp, shuffling back and forth and staring at the food service area just behind the plane's cockpit. A pair of flight attendants smile and nod at each passerby as they make their way towards the center aisle. They round the corner and peer down the cabin, taking survey of exactly what's holding up the group.

Halfway to the back of the plane there are several people playing a game of musical chairs, but with a twist. Not only do they need to navigate their own position to the window seat by making two of their closest friends get out of the way, but they have to find a place to stow their 50-pound carry-on bag.

"Oh, excuse me, I've gotta get this up there," a woman points with her head towards the ceiling. Hoisting the black vinyl brick to her shoulder, she nearly decapitates an elderly man and knocks a sleeping child awake with her rear end. Jamming the bag home, she pushes several other passenger's belongings to the side with disdain.

This scene plays out 20, 30, 40 times before the flight attendants make their way down the aisle to help the stragglers.

"I'm sorry, I'll have to take that," a flight attendant forcefully advises one of these nomad travelers. "There's no room left, I'll check that for you and you can pick it up when we land."

The in-flight crew makes their way to the front of the cabin and proceeds to demonstrate how to use a seat belt. As one suited worker does this, another walks the aisle and slams the door to each overhead compartment shut with authority. Some of them give, and the attendant needs to sandwich those gargantuan packs in even harder.

In all, this process of getting on the plane and getting securely buckled in is lengthened 10 times by the presence of the huge carry-on bags, but bustling business travelers have got to have them.

"Checking luggage takes so much time, I'm a busy-looking middle manager of a semi-important distribution company. I've got to get off this plane, grab some Starbucks and head to the Hertz Gold lot pronto," one business commuter said.

Pressing the issue may be futile, but fun.

"If everyone checked their bags, don't you think getting on the plane would be much faster, and the same amount of time you spend at baggage claim would be saved?"

"I can't worry about what every Tom, Dick and Harry is going to do. I've got a sales presentation in 45 minutes!"

As airline passengers continue to roll carry-on bags behind them that are big enough to pack themselves up in, one has to wonder... their body might actually fit in there, huh?

Rob Felt is the photographer for the Daily Herald. He can be reached at (770) 957-9161 or rfelt@henryherald.com .