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American Airlines Doesn’t Want Your Bags in the Cabin

American Airlines Doesn???t Want Your Bags in the Cabin
Photograph by Ralf Hettler

The airline that introduced checked-baggage fees has learned the downside of funneling more suitcases into the cabin: It takes longer for people to board. As a result, American Airlines will now allow passengers with only an item small enough to stow on the floor to board before those with suitcases, hoping to reduce the flood of roller bags trundling down plane aisles.

That, in turn, should get jets backed away from gates quicker and help improve American’s on-time arrival rate. The change, announced on May 16, means many travelers will check a bag for free at the gate, avoiding the $25 fee American and its domestic rivals assess at check-in. A four-week test showed the new boarding procedure shaved an average of two minutes for flight loading, “which adds up,” says Daniel Bellavigna, American’s supervisor of continuous improvement. (Yes, that’s his actual title.)