Baggage Claim Rage


Update: this wasn’t supposed to get posted on — it’s not in the Mozilla category but planet slurped it up anyway. Probably a feed error after a WP upgrade. 😦

Ever have a hard time finding your damn bag at the airport? It’s probably because there are a bunch of morons standing in front of you. And guess what? None of them are actually grabbing their bag — they are just making it impossible for you to find yours.

Fortunately when I travel I usually don’t have to deal with this since I don’t have a checked bag. But every once in a while I do have to check a bag (like last week). When this happens, I inevitably find myself standing behind 15 people, unable to find my bag. Right about then I tell myself, “I need to write an angst-filled blog about this to add another post to my airport rage series.” Well, here’s a diagram for you:

don't be the asshole standing next to the baggage claim

A few things I want to point out:

  • All the cool people are behind the line
  • Don’t be “that guy” standing right next to the carousel expecting his bag to come out faster because he’s standing closer (wtf?)
  • Everybody wins

Any questions?

24 thoughts on “Baggage Claim Rage

  1. Benjamin Otte

    It’s interesting that you blame it on the people, especially since game theory would suggest to move directly to the belt as it increases my chances to retrieve my baggage when it arrives.

    Anyway, I’d lay the blame on the belt constructors. They could have easily put the belt where they put the “Do Not Cross” line. (I feel compelled to mention that I’ve not had problems with too short baggage belts in a long time, but I’m from Europe :p)

  2. You can use whatever theory you want to describe it — doesn’t make it right or efficient! 🙂

    I’m all for manufacturers improving the UX for baggage claims — but since most airports are already constructed it’s sort of a moot point.

    The easiest way (aside from drawing a line) to solve it would be to form new rules of etiquette at the baggage claim. That comes from people thinking about what they are doing and politely allowing others whose bags are actually coming out to get their bag.

    I know it’s asking too much, probably won’t ever change, etc. *shrug*

  3. Dan

    “assume their shit will arrive faster because they are closer to the mouth thingy”

    It will arrive faster to them. The sooner they can get their bag, the sooner they can bugger off out of your way.

  4. I’d rather them just stand 3 feet back. Getting 3 feet closer doesn’t make their bag come out faster, that’s my point. It just crowds the area where people need space to get their bag, and what’s the net gain? 2-3 seconds? One step?

    It’s like the dude who swerves around you in traffic to get 1 car-length ahead. Doesn’t make sense, I don’t like them, and there’s literally nothing I can do about it except bitch about it to strangers.

    I love the internet.

  5. Havvy

    Hmm, good idea. I’ll keep it in mind next time I travel, though last time I did, I did stand right next to the belt. I did so in an area close to where baggage was coming out, and was wondering why everybody is waiting in a crowd over at the center (anywhere from 3 to 20 feet away from it). My bag came out first, luckily.

  6. Taras

    Last time I traveled I assumed the idiot in front of the bag dispenser position..Then my bag ALMOST made it out first, but got the conveyor stuck..So i jumped in, applied lots of force to free it and prevented other bags from taking minutes longer to come out.

    glad this hit the planet, it’s one of the more amusing things i’ve seen there recently.

  7. @Havvy – Haha. No way, the chances of that happening are so slim.

    @Taras – I’m sure the cool people politely standing behind you appreciated your heroics.

  8. Abe

    In my experience standing a good distance away from the belt will just mean that people will step in front of you, thereby preventing you from grabbing your bag until everyone else has grabbed theirs (or there becomes a gap big enough for you). The end result therefore is that everyone who can will stand next to the belt.

  9. Blake

    enjoyed the post, although I’ve never been all that put off by the baggage claim.

    one thought: I often pull off bags for strangers (older folks among others). If everyone is asked to stand behind a line, I imagine we’d lose this common courtesy.

  10. Harry

    “what’s the net gain? 2-3 seconds?”

    Depends how slow/long the belt is. At some airports, the time saved by standing at the start of the belt can be 2-3 minutes.

  11. @Blake – yeah, though if I saw an old lady picking it up from 3 feet away I could still help — you see this happening on the shuttle and stuff.

  12. Thanks for this post. Patty thinks I get way to bent out of shape about this exact phenomenon. Is it that hard to take a few steps back?

  13. This is infuriating. I actually wish that airports put a ring of color around the conveyors and have a line saying “stay behind line until you have to pick up your damn bag!”

  14. Thanks for ranting on a subject that’s boiled my blood for some time. I’ve actually been in a bunch of airport where there *is* a line and people still don’t stand behind it. I don’t understand…

  15. Aaron

    I was once sitting on the baggage conveyor belt waiting for it to start up. The airport person told me not to do it and pointed to a sign which said “do not stand on the belt”. I wasn’t standing :p

  16. ACM had an issue with a simple UI to fix this– make it hard or uncomfortable to stand on that inner circle. A simple little knoll or rounded elevation up to the carousel. Could be as little as 8-12 inches high. People will intuitively back off.

  17. Rob

    You’re doing it wrong. Instead of standing behind people clustered around the mouth, find a spot at the belt further away from the mouth.

    Often people have to closely inspect multiple bags before finding their own — standing further back just isn’t practical.

  18. You can’t fight people’s natural tendencies, I don’t think quite makes ‘asshole status’ though.

    If they simply put seats down so you could rest while your baggage was coming that would be great.

  19. I totally agree with you and I honestly can’t understand the negative comments on this post.

    It is so true that standing just at the “mouth” of the thing and crowding the area around the belt surely does not mean you’ll get your bag faster. It’s highly likely that even though you’re up close you have to wait around for your bag because it might just ‘not’ be the first bag out.

    I say stand back until you spot a bag that looks like yours, then move up to the belt and inspect it – if it’s your bag take it and be happy you can leave, if it’s not – move back again and wait.

    BTW. I’m gonna link to this from my blog.

  20. Laura Thomson

    I can’t believe I only just saw this.

    1. This also gives me the rage. I usually react to it by making sure I swing my bag in a wide and violent arc when I remove it from the belt, thus knocking 7 people out of the way and hopefully teaching them a lesson.

    2. Australian airports have a line painted on the ground, and people stand behind it. It’s not that hard people!

  21. Your diagram is faulty. You forgot to draw in the fact that the asshole has a luggage cart next to him also pulled up to the edge of the conveyor so that rather than taking up 2′ of conveyor frontage he can take up 5′.

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