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With Delta Early Valet, your carry-on luggage boards before you do

Word recently leaked that Delta Air Lines is testing a program in which airline employees “preload” passengers’ carry-on luggage into the overhead bins above their assigned seats. The goal with what Delta calls Early Valet is to decrease the time it takes to get flyers seated, with all carry-on luggage securely stowed before passengers board the plane. 

Airlines are motivated to get planes in the air. One study of airplane-boarding methods discovered that each minute on the ground costs $30. And with more passengers hoping to avoid checked-bag fees, it's not hard to imagine that it's taking longer to get everyone on board as people cram overstuffed carry-ons into overhead bins.

(Are you willing to part with your carry-on through such a service as Early Valet? If you have a Facebook account, leave a comment below.)

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So, if Early Valet is good for Delta, is it good for you? It's unclear whether any cost savings will be passed on to passengers. And there’s speculation that the currently free Early Valet, available in limited markets to start, is merely a trial run for an eventual upsell service.

More important, would you want to be separated from your carry-on luggage? Delta Early Valet is voluntary, but you might not want to relinquish a carry-on bag containing your laptop, jewelry, and other valuables or important items.

Of course you could separate belongings you take on board: Nonvaluables go in the 22-inch-high x 9-inch-deep x 14-inch-wide carry-on bag that you hand over for Early Valet, and valuables stay with you.

Early Valet could reduce the number of oversized bags that elude the eyes of the gate agents—and which slow boarding down for everyone. With airline personnel handling that baggage, it’s another opportunity to nab bags that are not size compliant, dispatch them to the cargo area, and—drumroll, please—slap a fee onto the passengers' tab.

—Susan Feinstein



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