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Heavy Carry-On Bags and the Risks They Represent to Air Passengers and Flight Attendants

| Apr 22, 2019 | Aviation Accidents |

Aisle seats can be “prime real estate” in commercial air travel. Given the small spaces in basic economy class, larger or longer-legged passengers may desperately crave these seats, sometimes paying extra for the privilege. These seats do come with a risk, though, which is injuries involving falling baggage from the plane’s overhead bins. In these days of large checked baggage fees, passengers are more motivated than ever to stuff more and heavier items into their carry-on bags, which further heightens the risk of accidents and injuries. Whether you are a passenger injured by a falling bag or a flight attendant injured while lifting a heavy bag, you may have a claim for injuries. Be sure to contact a knowledgeable Chicago aviation injury about your situation.

A recent news report from the Denver Post served as a reminder of this hazard. Although the events happened in Colorado, the passenger and the injury could have just as easily been at Midway or O’Hare airports. C.G., the passenger, was sitting in his aisle seat on board a Southwest flight bound from Denver to Newark. As he waited for others to board, another passenger attempted to use the overheard baggage compartment above C.G. According to the injured man, the other passenger was “infirm,” which doesn’t necessarily mean he was a person with a disability, but he was simply someone who was not well equipped physically to load the heavy carry-on bag into the overheard bin.

Eventually, the struggling passenger lost control of the bag and it crashed down on C.G.’s head, shoulder and arm, the lawsuit alleged. In his lawsuit, C.G. asserted that the airline was negligent because the flight attendants on board should have noticed that the allegedly infirm passenger was having difficulty with the bag and stepped in to help the man, according to the Post report.

While these types of accidents might sound like things that are sometimes quite painful but largely harmless in terms of long-lasting or permanent injuries, the unfortunate truth is that these accidents can cause very serious injuries to passengers. Most U.S. domestic flights allow passengers to bring aboard carry-on bags that weigh as much as 40 pounds. A publication released by the Flight Safety Foundation found that injuries from falling carry-on bags can cause anything from bruises and lacerations to traumatic brain injuries. As many as 60% of those injured may still have symptoms 90 days after the accident, according to the report.

These accidents’ frequency is difficult to state with certainty, as none of the FAA, TSA or NTSB keeps statistical data regarding the occurrence of injuries caused by bags in the airplane cabin, according to However, simple science would dictate that an injury from a falling carry-on bag is a risk more likely to occur to passengers in aisle seats than those in middle or window seats.

Aisle-seat passengers aren’t the only ones at risk from these heavy bags. One of the most commonly occurring types of injuries that flight attendants suffer is back injuries, and many of those injuries occur as a result of flight attendants handling heavy bags going into, or coming out of, the overheard compartment.

Whether you are a passenger or a flight crew member, you should be able to expect that you can complete your flight without suffering a serious injury. If you have suffered an injury in the air, contact the skilled Chicago aviation injury attorneys at Katz, Friedman, Eisenstein, Johnson, Bareck & Bertuca. Our attorneys have been helping injured passengers and airline workers for many years and are here to help you on your path to getting the compensation you deserve. To set up a free case evaluation, contact us at 312-724-5846 or through our website.

More Blog Posts:

Flight Attendants: Did your Tumi bag contribute to your injury?, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, Sept. 5, 2018

Six Airline Employees Injured in Bus-Versus-Baggage-Cart Collision at O’Hare Airport, Chicago Injury Attorneys Blog, April 11, 2018