If you’ve ever struggled under the weight of your carry-on bag as you’ve tried, to no avail, to squeeze it into the overhead storage compartment on an airplane while a flight attendant stood idly by and watched, you’re not alone. (Also, maybe you should’ve checked that thing.)
So, why don’t flight attendants help you lift your bags?
As it turns out, there’s a pretty good reason they don’t spring into action every time they see a passenger trying, and failing, to get their bag put away. According to Afar, they’re actually instructed not to.
“Flight attendants are trained never to lift baggage for passengers because it’s a leading cause of injury,” Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, said. “In addition to the economic and health risks for flight attendants, this could lead to a delay or even cancellation of a flight.”
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Now, you may be able to recall a time when a flight attendant offered you assistance with your bag while boarding. That, as Adam Wisniewski posits, is not exactly the same as lifting, and for many airlines, it’s baked into company culture. Delta’s policy, however, states that “flight attendants are unable to proactively assist customers placing carry-on baggage into overhead bins, with certain exceptions.”
The other reason that flight attendants don’t help you lift your bags is that they generally aren’t being paid during boarding, according to Afar, but rather only after the cabin door is shut. And, even more importantly, they aren’t covered by insurance in the event they’re injured before takeoff.
It does bear repeating that, as a general rule of thumb, if you can’t lift your bag over your heard without help, you probably aren’t adhering to carry-on guidelines and should consider checking it. The one exception, of course, is for passengers with disabilities. According to the Airline Passengers with Disabilities Bill of Rights, “Once a passenger with a disability has boarded, airlines must provide assistance, if requested, such as stowing and retrieving carry-on items, including assistive devices.”
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