For Vox, Joseph Stromberg on how the processes we have for luggage are one of the biggest inefficiencies of airline travel:
Engineers have devised a system for getting our bags into and out of the cargo holds of planes quickly, using codes, scanners, conveyor belts, vehicles, and people whose job is entirely focused on handling baggage. Yes, bags get lost sometimes. But the two-tiered charging structure means that instead of using this system, we’re cramming a whole lot of luggage through a parallel system meant to put people on planes, causing all sorts of inefficiencies and delays.
That’s such a great way to put it. We’ve devised an efficient system (checking luggage), but instead, airlines are incentivizing people to bring luggage through a system that was not devised for baggage (going through security and carry ons).
How do we solve for this?
The way to solve this is to decouple the cost of tickets from the cost of bags. If all your bags were weighed before each flight and you were charged accordingly, you’d have the option of flying cheaper by packing lighter, and the people who carry a ton of baggage have to pay the full cost of it.
That’s an interesting solution, but the infrastructure, not to mention training passengers, to do that would be enormous. Plus, in addition to the fact that there would be no way to know the final cost of your flight until after you’re at the airport, the inefficiencies in boarding would now be transferred to the checkin desk, as that everyone would have to go there before security.