American Airlines Wants You to Leave Your Baggage at Home

Yes, we know time is money. The public understands that every minute we stand in line, are stuck in traffic or must navigate the trappings of bureaucracy we’re losing precious moments of our lives that we’ll never get back.

But consider this little fact: every minute of boarding time on an airline flight costs $30 per flight. Sure, in an airport $30 may represent a few beers at the terminal’s TGIF or a hidden fee for some minor (and infuriating) infraction of small-print protocols, but that number adds up when multiplied throughout the day. Just imagine all of those fellow passengers and the number of flights in a 24-hour period. Cha-ching.

Airlines view boarding times as an exploitable revenue area. Reducing boarding times translates into more efficient procedures, more flights and increased income. Therefore, American Airlines is rewarding passengers who travel without overhead compartment baggage the luxury of boarding early, just after first-class and other premium level passengers. Yes, American Airlines is encouraging customers to be low maintenance.

By now the public has learned to abandon hope of air travel ever returning to its glory days. We fully understand the impersonal, probing, fee-mongering practices of a business model that struggles to serve its customers. Most of us have already found ways of taking our trip into our own hands. We already travel light. We show up galvanized in an attitude that expects things to go wrong. We emotionally prepare ourselves for stuff—delayed flights, lost luggage or weary customer service.

And now American Airlines wants us to do more. Is early boarding enough of an incentive for the public to leave behind anything that doesn’t fit under an airline seat? Perhaps it is. But at $30 a minute, we understand the business behind the decision. Time is money. So if you’re that guy trying to cram a duffle bag full of junk into the overhead compartment, don’t be surprised if the flight attendant gives you the stink eye.