Why pilot and author of Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, hates spinner bags

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A new menace is stalking the world’s airports – the four-wheeled roll-aboard ‘spinner’ bag.

That’s according to U.S pilot and author of the best-selling Cockpit Confidential, Patrick Smith, who has lashed out at their use in a blog post.

He says the main problem is that most travellers hold them at arm’s length – thereby taking up too much space. And it’s too easy to lose control of them.

A new menace is stalking the world’s airports – the four-wheeled roll-aboard ‘spinner’ bag. That's according to pilot Patrick Smith

A new menace is stalking the world’s airports – the four-wheeled roll-aboard ‘spinner’ bag. That's according to pilot Patrick Smith

A new menace is stalking the world’s airports – the four-wheeled roll-aboard ‘spinner’ bag. That’s according to pilot Patrick Smith

Mr Smith writes: ‘The problem is the way that too many travelers use them, holding them well off to one side, sometimes at arm’s length.

‘Every person walking like this now takes up the lateral space of two people.

‘Airport corridors are crowded and sometimes very narrow. Add thousands of passengers into such congested spaces, each hauling their little outstretched sidecar, and you’ve created the worst kind of obstacle course.

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‘The other day I was at Terminal 4 at Kennedy Airport, which has very little pedestrian space as it is, and here came two people walking side by side, a cell phone in one hand and a spinner in the other, at full arm’s length.

Mr Smith argues that spinner bags must be watched at all times – as they’re prone to roll off

‘Add a bit of a safety margin on each end, and that was two people taking up, probably, 13 feet of real estate in a corridor barely that wide — a human wall, basically.’

They’re easy to push around, he says, which is why they’re so popular – but their manoeuvrability means they must be watched at all times.

He adds: ‘If you’re on any kind of incline, or you give it the slightest nudge, you’d better be ready… I’m surprised more people aren’t flattened by these things.’

Mr Smith argues that the two-wheeled version is a much better option.

He writes: ‘Sure, they’re hogs of the overhead bins, but it’s hard to argue the merits of the bags themselves: useful, unobtrusive, pedestrian-friendly. Yes, the two-wheeled bag is towed somewhat offset, not directly behind you. But it basically follows in your shadow.’ 


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