United Airlines cracks down on oversized carry-on bags

United Airlines, the nation's third-largest carrier, is cracking down on passengers who drag oversized bags into the cabin.

And the airline is doing this to win points with passengers.

After all, the Chicago carrier was recently ranked eighth among the nation's top 10 carriers in a survey of about 24,000 people in the U.S. The survey by Satmetrix, a cloud-based software company, named Southwest Airlines as the top-rated carrier.

The crackdown on oversized bags is an effort to address what United says is one of the biggest gripes among its passengers: The overhead bins are so overstuffed with carry-on bags that the boarding process is often bogged down as fliers try to find space for their luggage.

"We are getting feedback from customers who have the right-size bags, telling us that there is not enough space in the overhead bins," said United spokesman Charles Hobart. "This is a response to that."

United sent messages to its MileagePlus members, reminding them that carry-on bags can be no bigger than 22-by-14- by-9 inches. The airline also distributed new "sizers" that are installed in the terminal to measure the carry-ons.

Hobart rejected speculation that United was launching the crackdown to boost revenue by charging passengers with oversized carry-on bags a $25 fee to check their luggage.

On social media sites, the crackdown was getting mostly positive reviews among airline fliers.

"Good," Haley Gross wrote on Facebook. "This is one change I can get behind."

Another Facebook member, Dan Banddanman, agreed. "I wish all airlines would do this. Tired of people carrying huge, multiple bags and being rude when they can't bring them on the plane," he wrote.

Hotel chain to offer customized beds

In the battle among hotels to offer the most comfortable beds, Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts is going to the mattresses.

The luxury hotel company with 92 properties, including three in the Los Angeles area, will begin to offer guests customized beds, with mattress toppers that vary in firmness at the request of guests.

The program, expected to be available at all Four Seasons hotels by 2016, comes in response to a survey the hotel company commissioned. It found that about half of all guests like medium firmness, 28% preferred extra firm and 14% liked soft mattresses.

Under the new program, guests can choose from three mattress tops that vary in firmness. Guests can request the firmness they want when they check in, and returning guests will find their favorite mattress top already in their room.

"This new research supports what our guests have told us: Everyone has different sleep needs, but the desire for a good night's rest is a universal passion," said Chris Hunsberger, executive vice president for product and innovation at Four Seasons.

In fact, 30% of those surveyed said uncomfortable beds have forced them to request a new hotel room. A handful have even sacked out on the floor or in the bathtub to get a good night's sleep.

Etihad Airways denies discriminating against Israel

Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates, doesn't fly to Israel.

In fact, the airlines' online route map doesn't even show that Israel exists.

The New York Post charged last week that the omission on the map is among several ways that Etihad discriminates against Israelis.

In response, Etihad issued a statement, saying, "We do not discriminate in any way and welcome passengers of all faiths and religions, carrying valid documentation."

Etihad, however, offered no explanation for the online map, which does not identify Israel by name but names its neighbors, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria and Egypt.


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