All’s Fair in Love and Luggage

So this post might be a combination post and rant but I’m going to do it anyway.

I’m on a flight from Atlanta to Newark this week (I’ve been a platinum flier for many years) and while everyone is boarding I see someone acting very rudely about his bags and hear the words “all’s fair in love and luggage.” Besides the fact that the phrase doesn’t mean anything because it ignores the dramatic tension between the original “love” and “war”, it’s obviously a statement regarding the selfishness of people. In fact, it’s hard for me to think of many places where the deceitfulness of men is so much on display as when trying to load bags into overhead compartments. Here are some of the things about getting on an airplane that show off people’s selfishness:

1) Of course I have to lead with taking up more room in the overhead than you should. The most flagrant offenders are people who put both bags in the overhead compartments so they can have more legroom. If you have done this, here’s a news flash… When the nice lady in the uniform holding the microphone says “If you brought two bags onboard today please place one in the overhead and one under the seat in front of you” she was talking to you. Unless your boarding pass has the sign “luggage hog waiver” stamped in bright pink, you should actually listen to the lady as she’s trying to be fair to everyone and get us out of the gate on time so we don’t miss our wheels up window.

2) I’m pretty sure on most of my flights the nice lady says something like “once you find your row, please step into the row and allow those behind you to pass.” There is a very special reason she says this. She wants you to step into the row and allow those behind you to pass. While this may not be important to you, it is important to those behind you trying to get to their rows before everyone else so they can put two bags in the overhead compartment. Please obey the flight attendant.

3) I’m pretty sure when the airlines bought something like 20,000,000 boxes the size of approved carry on luggage that the intent was that people would use them as a reference to see whether their luggage is too large to carry on an airplane. For some reason which defies explanation, airlines do not regularly enforce this policy even though their lack of enforcement punishes those people who follow their rules and rewards people who ignore their rules. In consulting we call this counterproductive. If the same principles were applied to parenting all kids would be Charles Manson. All that is happening is people are bringing more and bigger carry on luggage and flight crews, having been told that being spineless is a good thing for so long, are powerless to stop it. The airlines insistence of imposing baggage fees of course makes this horrible trend much worse. Both the airlines and the passengers should realize that what they are doing is putting themselves above those passengers who follow the rules which is incredibly selfish.

4) This has nothing to do with luggage but have you ever noticed that fees never go away? The luggage fees were supposed to be a reaction to $140/barrel oil. Oil is around $70/barrel and the fees have not gone away. Same thing with cruises. $10/person/day for an oil surcharge to pay for oil at a price they had to pay before they imposed the fees. Toll roads are another example. I read that the city of Newark used these fees from licensing at the Newark airport to pay for the beautiful new Prudential Center. At least I can take solace that the airlines who mistreat us so much and don’t stand up to luggage violators paid $200 million toward my chance to see the Nets lose to the Celtics this week. This was in a game where the Nets were up 13 at the half and the Celtics didn’t play Kevin Garnett, Paul Peirce or Ray Allen.

5) How about the people who don’t take their bags off their shoulders and clobber every single person in an aisle seat in the head as they board? You’d think that if they were paying even a little bit of attention they’d realize they were doing that by row 15. Maybe they’re just equal opportunity offenders. In any case, please stop hitting me in the head with your bag. I’m kind of thin so I never had a problem with this until the airlines started charging people for checked baggage meaning the flying rookies are now carrying their oversized bags on board because people like Delta don’t care to enforce their own rules.

I could go on but there isn’t really much point. Above all else my reaction to all this selfishness is the contrast it is with God. Here’s what Romans 8:32 says…

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

So let’s draw a comparison from the the self lovers with oversized bags and God. If God were boarding the airplane he would not do any of these things. He would not have any baggage at all – because He was willing to give up what he was entitled to for the good of those He loved. He would be running up and down the aisles looking for space and putting people’s bags there for them. If someone broke the rules and had oversized bags He would not ignore it. Rather, He would use the law to show people they broke it then hire a charter plane at His expense to send the bags to their destination before they could even arrive. Rather than stand in the aisle and block those trying to get past, He would handle the bags of every person who was rudely blocking the way so they could sit down and do whatever it took to serve those people while letting the others through.

I know these are poor comparisons and God does not need to fly commercial but here’s my point. How often have I compared myself to the rude travelers and glory in my own righteous behavior on airplanes, yet I have not come close to the standard that God has set for me. Paul said in Galatians 5:2 that we are to be imitators of God and I have not done that when I’ve traveled. I have not been merciful to rude travelers or helped people find a spot for their obviously oversized bag or thought about ways I could encourage the flight attendant who is frustrated because nobody listens to her and she feels powerless and ignored.

How far I have fallen from His glory and how totally undeserving I am of His grace? Yet He continues to bless me with every spiritual blessing and answer my prayers beyond anything I could ask or even imagine. He has given me His Son and the forgiveness for my self righteousness and so many more sins. He has promised to give me all things I need pertaining to live and godliness. My job is to make known among the nations what He has done and that includes rude people on airplanes.

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