Maybe it is the continuing onset of GOMS (Grumpy Old Man Syndrome) or perhaps it is the continuing disappointment in the selfishness of society but I have been becoming more frustrated lately with people and their luggage on flights.

Each time you board a flight, there is a small stand that shows the dimensions for carry-on luggage including a physical cage – measuring about 48cm by 34cm by 23cm. There is also a weight limit of 7kg. If your bag can’t fit in that cage or if it is over 7kg, then it needs to be checked through rather than carried on. Sounds simple enough. Unfortunately there seems to be some confusion from the travelling public. What I am constantly seeing now is that passengers are not viewing this cage as a maximum carry-on baggage allowance – they seem to be viewing it as a minimum!

People are struggling along aisles with two pieces of carry-on that are large enough to have their children stowed inside. Then they become frustrated with the plane – and the air hostess – when they push, shove and try and squeeze their bag into the overhead locker which is straining with the weight and size of the bag.

Keep in mind that it is crucial to safety and profit for an airline to know how heavy a plane is. On a common plane such as a 737, 10kg extra per passenger on a 1000km flight equates to an additional 68 litres of fuel required at a cost of $137. When you consider the nation’s ever widening girth – the average Australian 45 year old male now weighs 89.2kg which is 3.9kg heavier than 16 years ago – the airlines are already paying an additional $53 for a 1000km journey just to carry the extra human weight!

With the importance of fuel economy and the safety of passengers, you would think that an airline would not only be enforcing their existing rules but asking their staff to encourage the passengers to check through their luggage.

And herein lies the problem.

Humans are like water. They will travel down the path of least resistance. If there is an option that seems easier or more practical, they will take it. I remember when check-in staff used to look at your carry-on luggage and make sure it conformed to the standards. At some point along the way, the concept of customer service was introduced and staff started saying “Yes” to all passengers – despite it being contrary to the rules – and wrote it off as customer service. Excellent customer service does not mean that you say “Yes” to every request. What started out as supposed customer service is now very frustrating to all the travelling public with the time it takes to load and unload passengers with their oversized carry-on.

In the 2013 Edition of Rugby League Laws of the Game, Rule 12.6.a states “the ball is to be fed into the tunnel from the Referee’s side” yet it seems common for halfbacks to feed the ball behind the feet of the lock forward. Referees have been ignoring this for many years – to the point now where players would cry foul if a penalty was given for an incorrect feed. The same is true of airline check-in staff. The practice of allowing huge bags on as carry-on has been going on for so long that a passenger would be horrified if they were told that they couldn’t take their baggage on-board with them.

This relates specifically to issues that Councillors across the nation face every day. Residents will often make representations to their friendly local Councillor. They want to be sure their opinion is heard and their view is considered. Obviously they would like to hear that their problem will be dealt with in exactly the way they have requested it BUT it doesn’t mean the only option for a Councillor is to say “Yes” every time a request is made. Councillors still need to consider individual requests against the overall good of the community and the long-term strategic plan. More importantly when a resident makes a request of a Councillor, and the answer is still “No”, residents appreciate it when the reason and logic is explained to them.

The other point that this highlights is the enforcement of policy. If the official policy of any organisation is not being enforced then you have two choices. Either change the policy or enforce the enforcement. If you ask your staff to ignore one particular organisational policy, how do they know the ones to ignore and the ones to enforce? Just enforce the ’important’ ones? Who decides which ones are the important ones? The staff of any organisation, including Council, should enforce all of the policies of that organisation and, if that means they can’t deliver the correct outcomes, the policies should be changed.

This is one of the reasons that it is critical for Councils to continually review and analyse their policies and make decisions on the environment today and into the future rather than on how it was in the past.

Tell me if you are one of the guilty ones annoying me with your luggage on steroids at



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