Do Airline Bag Fees Cause Delays?

Everyone knows there have been horrendous long lines at a number of major U.S. airports as passengers check in and go through airport security.
In particular, reports out of Denver and Chicago’s O’Hare tell of delays up to and even exceeding three hours. The result has been thousands of missed flights and hundreds of thousands of pissed off travelers.
 There are a number of reasons for the crunch, not the least of which is the usual increase of travel during the summer months. But one reason for the jam-up—frankly, one that had not occurred to me— is the recent, now accepted airline practice of charging for checked bags. And, of course, once you think about it, it makes sense.
First, the airlines start charging for all checked bags. Then passengers respond by carrying on more bags in order to avoid the fees. All those additional bags going through security take more time to screen. Even if it’s just an additional 15 seconds per bag, if half the people on a flight carry on a bag instead of checking it, that could add 20 to 30 minutes to the wait time of the people following.
I must confess that I personally account for a mini-slowdown whenever I go through security. That is not the time to hurry because you’re feeling the pressure of all those people waiting behind you. When you rush— worse, when you rush and you’re a bit rattled—that’s when mistakes happen. That’s when you forget to slip your laptop back into your carry-on bag. That’s when you put your passport down while you tie your shoe laces … and forget to pick it up.
I have eight or ten flights scheduled over the rest of the year and have finally gotten around to applying for a TSA Pre✔️which, I hope, will make a difference. We shall see.


  1. I agree with Jose, if you plan on any international travel, Global Entry makes sense. It has pre-check included and is only $15 more.

  2. Oh, it will make a difference. Sometimes small, but sometimes real big. Global Entry is a better bet – is it pre-check on steroids if you travel outside the US and it is not too much more expensive.

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