If you've read my previous letters to Jon Carroll, you should know all about him, so I won't repeat myself. If you haven't, then just go here, or here. This letter was written as my past ones were in response to a column, this one about how much nicer it is to fly when you check your luggage. I just had to add my two cents worth. I wonder at what point he will simply ask me to quit bothering him.

Subject: Both Hands Waving Free

Dear Jon,

I applaud your stand on airplane carry-on madness. I don't know if I qualify as a frequent flyer, but I do know that I fly far more than I want to. And all my experience agrees with you - the less you carry with you, the more enjoyable the flight.

Call me a dreamer, but I was hoping that during the State of the Union Address President Clinton would announce the Airline Comfort and Speed Initiative which would ban overhead luggage bins on all domestic flights. (He might have made the announcement between the calls for 1000 new meter maids and 1000 new au pairs, but I nodded off a bit there.) No single act would do more for airplane safety, comfort, and shorten travel time.

Just think of all the injuries caused by overhead bins popping open and luggage spilling out. More people are hurt by falling toaster ovens in airplanes than in their own homes. You've already covered the comfort angle, far better than I could. And my observations of real people onboard real airplanes have convinced me we can dramatically lower the time it takes to get on and off if people didn't have to contend with the overhead bins.

I'm constantly amazed by how people are constantly amazed by the whole getting on the plane procedure. They get in line to get on but they don't have their ticket ready. "What, you want part of the ticket now? That's never happened before." They have so many things with them they can't even keep track of what goes where. "That's right, I brought the toaster oven this time, so do I want to put it overhead where it might hurt someone or do I want to put it under the seat? I'll just stand here in the aisle until I decide." "Do I want to keep my jacket on or not? Why don't I sit down and wait until I can hold up a long line of people before I get up again to take it off." Every flight there is someone who has brought on something too heavy for them to lift into the overhead bin, and we all stand around while they look helpless. Flights routinely take half-an-hour to forty five minutes to board. We could cut it down to five if all people had to do was walk on, maybe put something underneath the seat, and open their book. The less people have to think, the faster they move.

Jon, I'm just one voice, but if you joined with me on this, we could be a movement, maybe even a vast conspiracy. Perhaps you don't want to give up your smugness (who ever does?) over being comfortable when others are miserable, but think of your fellow man. You have a chance to make a real difference here. Just think, the legislation might go down in history as the Carroll-Murphy bill (which would make my wife happy as that is her name). So, what do you say? Shall we do what's right, even if we court the ridicule of travel experts and the scorn of the flying public? Think not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country. Never forget that the power of two is really the power of one squared. Remember, extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice, but the tyranny of chaos. Well, you get the idea and I've run out of aphorisms so I'll ask you to consider my offer. Operators are standing by to take your orders.

Kevin Murphy

And Mr. Carroll's reply, which I'm hoping will lead to more than just lip-service, but a crusade (don't you just love crusading journalists):
Count me in, guy. I'm so there.

Return me to Letter of the Week

Return me to The Murphy NexusTM

This page last updated 2 January 1998

Contents copyright Kevin Murphy. All rights reserved.