Cure for “Packer’s Panic Disorder” Remains Elusive

Here on ThreadTripping we don’t shy away from frank discussions about the unusually wide assortment of mental illnesses that afflict frequent travelers. From Post Trip Depression (PTD) to Post Redemption Anxiety (PRA) we have covered the gamut – from “P” to “P”.

Today on Dr. TT we would like to draw your attention to another troubling condition that affects travelers – a condition that has reached epidemic proportions ever since the airlines began more strictly enforcing their carry-on size rules.

Mental health professionals have yet to classify this disease, but we are calling it “Packer’s Panic Disorder” (PPD).

Sadly, Faith and her husband, over on the Rick Steve’s forum, both appear to suffer from extreme bouts of Pack Attacks:

…we saw the article indicating that American (and I think United and Delta) had changed their size specifications for carry-on luggage … We are in a tizzy trying to decide if we need to replace the older RS bag. …


The other reason I’m having a mild freakout is that we’ve always used Rick’s medium sized backpack as my husband’s personal item and never even thought twice about it and have never been questioned about it. But it turns out it is larger than the almost 16 x almost 12 x almost 4 inches allowed for an Air Berlin personal item. And the tote I use (and into which I stuff my purse) is fine length and width, but at 9 ” wide it also doesn’t conform. Nor does the very classy large black “purse” I’ve used to stuff my purse, books, toiletries into on occasion — it meets the 4″ back to front, but is 2″ wider and taller. …


I’m so glad I have a two month head start on the luggage freakout so by the time we’re actually needing to get stuff packed I’ll have mellowed out a bit. Hate that we had a system that worked for us and now, one way or another, it’s going to cost us money to conform to the new rules!

It doesn’t take a psychologist to sense the extreme anxiety in Faith’s post. And the above quotes are only excerpts from her much larger post, in which she describes in detail her obsessive/compulsive measuring, weighing and re-weighing of luggage options.

Heartbreaking, isn’t it?

And perhaps even more frightening than the condition itself is reading the replies – all of which are well intentioned, but clearly the musings of those with absolutely zero credentials in the mental health care field. Take Ray for example, who in trying to assuage Faith’s fears almost certainly achieves the opposite affect:

Unfortunately, this is a difficult question to answer as airlines, agents, scales and rules are often capricious and inconsistently enforced. You have, most likely, read the recent spate of articles on the net about changing carry on luggage rules…. and probably the articles on how they are enforced. So, right now, there is no great answer, it will in part depend on your comfort level with inconsistency.

And Ginger, who advocates for a classic avoidance “solution”:

We check our bags, and I have a small carryon with things like snack, water bottle, food etc. This way I don’t have the headache and stress that you have now.

Of course Ray and Ginger are simply trying to be helpful, bless their hearts. What they can’t possibly understand is that Faith, and the billions of other poor souls who suffer from PPD, can’t be helped with practical advice and bromides. The roots of the disorder go much deeper than that.

PPD cannot be cured, it can only be managed with prescriptions administered by professionals.

Namely the airline executives in charge of determining and consistently enforcing carry-on limits.

Read the thread in its entirety: Luggage Freakout

Image: “Together again” by chispita_666. CC BY 2.0.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.