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Continental Airlines New Checked Baggage Policy

Continental Airlines recently changed the size of approved checked baggage and people are up in arms about it. Then again, people are up in arms about any and everything that pertains to the airline industry. I first read about it on Wallet Pop, which seems to be a website devoted to cheapskates.

Here’s the deal: As of November 1, Continental will reduce the maximum size allowed for carry-on bags from 51 linear inches to 45 linear inches. That’s the area of the bag.

Here’s Wallet Pop’s take: The airline industry is trying to “nickle and dime” every hardworking, red-blooded American out of their hard earned income so that “the airlines” can roll in the billions of dollars they’re obviously raking in by charging passengers $15 to check a bag.

Here’s my take: The U.S. legacy carriers have been plagued by rising fuel prices and stiffer competition from budget airlines. Any reputable news agency will (and has) made the statement that airfares are at an all time low, and an adjustment was necessary for the carriers. It needed to happen despite the fuel price fluctuations, which is why the prices aren’t immediately dropping as the cost of fuel does so. Adjusted for inflation, you’re still getting the cheapest airline tickets of all time. I am a frequent traveler on Continental Airlines. The airline is in the process of receiving new Boeing 737 aircraft. You’ll know you’re on a new plane if it doesn’t have an entertainment system. The new aircraft, whether they are supposed to or not, offer less overhead space than the previous generation models. I don’t think the overall space available is less, but the bins don’t open as widely to accommodate bags. My rollerboard used to fit perfectly on the 737 with the wheels out. Now, it’s difficult to open the bin wide enough to stow the bag.

If you peruse the comments below Wallet Pop’s post, you’ll find that the majority of serious road warriors are pretty understanding about the change. They see the hoards of tourists bringing bags the size of a Buick on to the plane and are frustrated that the flights may be delayed by the ordeal. The people who seem to get angry are the infrequent travelers who purchase their tickets on and prefer to fly on Southwest.

Is this going to affect you? Probably not. I think you should follow the rules, come on – this gives you an excuse to buy a new bag, but other people don’t always see it my way. Based on the gargantuan bags I’ve seen people drag on the plane in the past, I doubt the size restriction will be enforced any more diligently now that the revised measurements are in place than they were before.

On a related note, Continental also announced they will waive fees for passengers who have a Continental Airlines Chase credit or debit card.