Why Delta Wouldn’t Let Passengers Gate Check Any Bags On My Flight

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Normally when you fly these days, airlines will do everything they can to have passengers gate check their carry-on bags to avoid taking them on the plane to take up space.

As Point Me to the Plane points out, they’ve even rolled out a new service in some of their hubs where they will come around the gate area and take your bags and put them in the overhead bins for you, called Early Valet.

However, on my recent flight out of Las Vegas on Delta that was not the case. In fact, on this flight they specifically said that any carry-on bags passengers had must be put in the overhead bin, as they couldn’t gate check any bags since our flight was payload optimized.

There can be several reasons as to why a flight could become Payload optimized, however in this case from Las Vegas, we were weight restricted to the extreme temperatures. Essentially, there wasn’t enough space available in the cargo hold area to accommodate all planned bags and cargo as well as the fuel needed, so they couldn’t take any more carry-on bags.

The pilot even made an announcement that if you couldn’t find a space for your carry-on you’d have to get off the plane as well. Luckily, after taking about a 15 minute delay, space was found for all bags and no one was involuntary denied boarding.

Sometimes for payload optimized flights, if the cabin is weight restricted, they will deny boarding for standby passengers and in some cases even solicit volunteers to get off the plane.

Has anyone else experienced a payload optimized flight before? What was the outcome?

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  1. My guess is there was plenty of space for carry on bags. The issue is “airline math”.

    The carry on bag weight is already averaged in with passenger weights in the cabin. When the carry on bag gets loaded in the cargo pit, it’s then added as extra weight in the cargo hold. It’s basically counted twice, adding more overall weight to the aircraft.

  2. That happened on the Delta flight I’m on right now. I have 3 bags under my seat so we could make more space in the overhead bin for others. Good hint I’m short. Took awhile, but we were only delayed 5-10 minutes.

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