Many airlines now give passengers the option of printing their own checked baggage tags at airport kiosks. The travelers are then expected to remove the tag from its adhesive and correctly loop it to the handle on their luggage.
(This is a nightmare for those of us who are clumsy — and always make the baggage tag into a crinkled mess.)
“You’re Doing It Wrong… Can’t You Read?”
Someone on Reddit posted about their alleged encounter with a Delta Air Lines employee at Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport (DTW). The person says they are “aggressively a non-Karen.” So, let’s assume it’s a female for clarity.
She had a first class ticket and went to the Sky Priority line.
As I go to enter the line, a Delta rep puts up her hand and says, “Stop.” Of course I stop. She says two words: “self tag” and points to the self tag kiosk. “Oh, I need to go to kiosk?” “Yes,” she says. I do as I’m told. Never seen this before, but sure. I do self checkout at the grocery store sometimes. I guess this is a new thing. All good.
She went to a kiosk, printed the bag tag, and tried to “make sense of how to put it on the bag.”
You’re not the only one, sister.
She adds that she has “some hand disability stuff and some vision stuff I deal with and I can’t figure out how to do it right. On the back of the tag are a bunch of steps on how to apply the tag to the bag, but I’m terrible with [spatial] relations. It’s a blur.”
Her attempt at self-tagging her bag wasn’t successful: “Half is peeled off and the other half is hanging down.”
She does the walk of shame back to the Delta rep, who “stares at me like I’m the biggest idiot she’s ever seen. Eyes literally rolling.”
Here’s where the tension cranks up a few notches.
I ask her while I’m smiling: “Can I just bring this tag to the counter and they can help me put it on?” She glares. “No. You need to do it.” Um. Ok. “Can you help me? I can’t seem to figure it out,” again smiles from me to her. She answers. “No.” No other words. Ok. Uh. I guess I’ll keep trying to do it myself? I make a loop of it and just stick it together like that. I smile and shrug at her. “Is this ok?” She glares and says. “You’re doing it wrong.” I ask nicely again, “Can you help me?” She shakes her head; she can’t. “The instructions are on the back and you are still doing it wrong.” I try to break the tension with a joke and a smile. I don’t want to give her my whole medical history so I go self depreciating. “I must not be very bright, I’m sorry, can you help me.” Her eyes roll again.
“No.” We stare at each other. As I said, I made a loop with it. Stuck the ends together. I know it’s wrong, but I couldn’t get it right. “Can I go in the line now though?” She waves me forward, but with a death stare. “It’s wrong. Can’t you read?”
Yikes! I really want to believe this part was made up. This is plain mean.
I am humiliated and slump forward to the counter, where I apologize for existing and ask the woman there if she can please help me. I explain the woman directing traffic told me I was all wrong, and said she couldn’t help, but I don’t Karen or yell or anything, mostly because I’m stunned silent. I repeat three times, “I must not be very bright,” and the desk agent takes pity on me and fixes it kindly and I’m on my way.
I can’t stop thinking about this. Am I literally the worst person who flew today in America? I have never felt so ashamed and berated and embarrassed while flying.
Tag: Who’s It?
I am not very graceful or dextrous. The blind and deaf dog down the street could create an art project that would look like Mona Lisa compared to what I’ve done with baggage tags I’ve tried affixing to luggage.
My wife, however, is many things: funny, smokin’ hot, kind, a wonderful mother, and most importantly: a master at looping baggage tags. She usually bails me out of these situations.
But on the rare times I check a bag while traveling alone, I usually print out the tag, stand in line — and attempt to put the tag on myself. (When I fly Delta, the Sky Priority line proctors usually spot fools like me and voluntarily tag the bags themselves. Hey, I’ll take the eye roll!)
I understand the concept of self-tagging is to speed things up. You don’t want those lanes to become “standard” check-in.
But I don’t know why the Delta agent in this Reddit post couldn’t have just done that. Or showed her how to do it. Or not been such a bully (allegedly). If she insisted on saying something, a terse “I’ll let you in the line just this once, but please use the agent assistance line next time” would’ve sufficed. (However, all we have is the original poster’s account of the story. It’s entirely plausible that some details are missing.)
Perhaps the kiosks were especially busy and the Delta agent was overwhelmed. But from a customer standpoint, there’s no excuse for this. (Airline employees: would you please share your thoughts in the Comments section below?)
And Delta might want to hope that the woman didn’t expressly tell the unhelpful agent about her disability. That might create even more headaches.
Not everyone is on board with the self-tagging baggage system. Personally, I’m not too fond of it. I don’t think it’s beneath me or anything — I am too much of a klutz to get it right consistently.
But should exceptions be made when incidents like the one on Reddit come up? Or should those folks be made to stand in the agent assistant line?
And what do you think about the self-tagging process?
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