The Real Reason Airlines Want You to Check Your Carry-On Bags

iStock.com/izusek
iStock.com/izusek

You’re just about to board the plane when you hear an announcement at your gate: All carry-on bags now need to be checked. This can be a huge relief (less weight to lug around!), but it can also be a hassle when you’re waiting around at baggage claim and wondering whether your luggage is lost somewhere far away.

The reason airlines sometimes make you check your bags at the last minute might not be what you’re expecting, though. According to Vox, it has less to do with the amount of available space in the overhead bins and more to do with the time that’s being wasted by waiting for fliers to secure their carry-on bags. Aviation economics expert Samuel Engel told Vox that airlines lose money for every minute that the plane isn’t flying. He said carry-on bags are the biggest holdup when it comes to boarding delays, so there's a lot of incentive to speed up the process. “You have this $35 million asset you want to make sure you’re flying 10 or 11 hours of the day,” he said.

A gate agent at Dallas Fort Worth's airport also told Vox that the staff has just 20 minutes to shepherd passengers onto the plane, and if they take any longer than that, they’re held responsible and could lose their jobs.

Sometimes, though, the mandatory baggage check is related to space. Gate agents often keep track of the number of passengers who board with carry-on bags that are too large to fit underneath their seats. Planes don’t have enough overhead bin space to allow every passenger to bring a carry-on bag, so there has to be a cut-off at some point.

To make sure you'll have everything you'll need while traveling, try to pack essential items (like medications and your toothbrush) in your personal item bag instead of a carry-on. You wouldn’t want to lose your carry-on and not have a single pair of clean underwear to change into.

[h/t Vox]

Learn Python From Home for Just $50

Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com
Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels.com

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The 10 Best Beaches in America, According to Dr. Beach

Grayton Beach? More like Blue-Ton Beach.
Grayton Beach? More like Blue-Ton Beach.
Jacob Boomsma/iStock via Getty Images

When searching for the perfect stretch of beach to laze away your vacation days, there are quite a few factors to consider. Some, like water clarity or sand texture, are more obvious than others; for example, you might not realize how much noise pollution a nearby highway generates until you’re already on the beach.

To help you choose your next seaside getaway, Florida International University coastal research professor Stephen P. Leatherman, also known as “Dr. Beach,” has released his annual list of the top 10 beaches in the U.S. Based on 50 criteria, ranging from the beach’s width at low tide to the presence of jellyfish, the data reveals the Florida Panhandle is home to the best beach in the country. Grayton Beach State Park boasts exceptionally fine, white sand known as “sugar sand”; shallow, warm water with calm waves; and a 2000-acre nature park with rare coastal dune lakes and a hiking trail. It wasn’t the only Florida beach to make the list—Caladesi Island State Park, off the coast of Dunedin and Clearwater, came in at number six.

North Carolina’s Outer Banks islands were well-represented, too, with Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach and Buxton’s Lighthouse Beach taking the second and fifth spots, respectively. Dr. Beach also bestowed top honors on two of Hawaii’s beaches: Oahu’s Duke Kahanamoku Beach and the Big Island’s Hapuna Beach State Park.

Even if you can’t make it as far as Florida or Hawaii, Dr. Beach’s metrics can help you decide what’s important to you when it comes to choosing the best beach closer to home. Maybe you’re not bothered by online reviews that warn about giant waves at a certain beach, but you’re unwilling to budge about overcrowding.

The list of criteria isn’t the only way that Dr. Beach is helping beachgoers plan the best, safest summer vacation possible—he’s also compiled a few handy tips for heading to the beach during the coronavirus pandemic. First and foremost, you should check the beach’s rules before you go; some places are only open for exercise, while others have made masks mandatory (even if yours doesn’t require a mask, however, you should still wear one). Dr. Beach also recommends having a backup plan, just in case your ideal beach hits capacity before you get there.

See the full list of top 10 beaches below, and find out more about them here.

  1. Grayton Beach State Park // Florida Panhandle
  1. Ocracoke Lifeguarded Beach // Ocracoke, North Carolina
  1. Coopers Beach // Southampton, New York
  1. Duke Kahanamoku Beach // Oahu, Hawaii
  1. Lighthouse Beach // Buxton, North Carolina 
  1. Caladesi Island State Park // Dunedin, Florida
  1. Hapuna Beach State Park // Big Island, Hawaii
  1. Coast Guard Beach // Cape Cod, Massachusetts
  1. Coronado Beach // San Diego, California
  1. Beachwalker Park // Kiawah Island, South Carolina