Thursday, November 06, 2008

Airlines' Covert Gender Bias

Last night I flew to Jacksonville for a conference. Ordinarily I would not choose to fly US Airways, but when you live in a smallish town with only two airlines there isn't much choice.

Now, when I got to the airport I was completely aware of the airline's 2 bag policy, and I had my suitcase, laptop bag, and purse. You tell me, should an average size purse count as a carry-on? (When I say 'average size' I mean one that will hold my wallet, sunglasses, cell phone, and maybe a couple other small things.)

So, I'm headed across the tarmac to drop off my suitcase and the guy tells me that I have three bags and unless I can consolidate then I will have to go back inside and check one. I said, "Well, one is my purse." And he told me that was considered a bag.

Apparently airlines, and US Airways specifically, have failed to realize that women carry purses for a reason. Do I have to carry a purse? No. Could I carry a wallet? Sure. Do I always have pockets in which to carry a wallet? Oh yeah....NO!!! 95% of my clothes don't have pockets. Therefore in order to carry my wallet I need to carry a purse. Oh, not to mention the fact that women follow these other conventions that society has deemed necessary (makeup, for one, although the only makeup in my purse is a tube of Burt's Bees Lip Balm).

Sure, I could buck the social conventions. But why am I asked to do that when men aren't? There were several men on the flight that had the same amount of carry-ons that I had, the only difference was that they didn't have a purse because they had wallets.

If men carried purses do you think we would be allowed three carry-ons? Oh yeah.

And to top it off, my three carry-on were of average (read: not outlandish) size. There were people there with two carry-ons that took up way more room than my three. Perhaps the airline should rethink their restriction and use size or weight as opposed to number.

Oh, and did I mention that if I had chosen to check my suitcase it would have cost me an additional $15?

US Airways, get ready for a letter from an angry customer.


Wild Cayuse Creek said...

Hello, and thank you! When I flew to the UK, I had to stuff my very small purse into my backpack, so that my carry-ons consisted of my backpack and camera bag. Give me a break. As if the x-ray machine can't see that I've got a bag stuffed inside a bag.

And how come the rules aren't the rules when it comes to duty-free?! Why don't those bags of duty-free items count toward the carry-on limit?

Hyperreflexia said...

Don't get me started. I spent 4 days in Florida due to hurricanes. Six cancellations later, I still spent another day on the plane to get to Oregon. Granted the hurricane was not the airline's fault but the least they could have done is show up to the counter to tell passengers the flights were being cancelled. I showed up on of the mornings at 4:00 am for a 6:00 am flight and the counter help didn't bother to show to put the cancelled signs up. I stood with a group of other passengers for an hour to find we were cancelled again, and they weren't going to help us with another flight.