Wednesday, July 7, 2010

60 Days of Summer - The Baggage Lottery

I don’t want to count the total cost of my excess baggage in the last 15 years but to be honest I am happy to pay for excess stuff. What really puzzles me is that why can't the airlines come to any consensus. OK so some airlines seem to have it all mapped out online so you can check what you need and even pre-pay but do they not realize that we don't all have industrial scales at home so that we can arrive prepared?

This is funny, not sure I have ever checked a bag that actually stuck to these dimensions!

So we have three airport scenarios;

A - Why Did You Bother? You leave all the unimportant things behind like boxers, socks, razors anything that you can toss out just to save a few ounces. In extreme cases you even put on multiple layers to avoid putting them in your bag - this is especially common for snowboard trips! You then carefully pack all your stuff, taking care not to put too much padding round the nose of your surfboard, I mean you don't want to be a couple of pounds over and get charged. You do that silly stand on the scales balancing act and get your friend or in my case wonderful wife to hand you the bag and then try to do some simple math to work out the bag weight. OK you have done it you have got two bags with all your gear in, you look like a Michelin man but it is alright because your checkin bags only weigh 50 lbs (23kg) and you are set. Then after all that hassle you arrive at the desk only to find that they don't even check the bags, you get that sinking feeling and wonder if there is any way that you can get your bags back and add more stuff. The good news is that you haven't been charged a penny, the bad news is that you have to spend a ton of cash replacing the things that you should have packed after all you didn't really want to go without socks and pants for 2 months.

B - Everyone’s a Winner: You pack whatever you need, try to keep the weight down but accept that you'll pay something and the girl at checkin is actually nice and lets you off a few lbs, you hand over your credit card and pay a couple of hundred bucks for your 3 or 4 bags, everyone is happy, job done!

C - Insanity Rules: You pack sensibly, even trying to keep the weight down, lets face it the less weight we fly with the less fuel used the better it is for the environment etc. Once at the airport you carefully scope out the checkin staff, who looks like they need a break, who has a smile, better avoid that ugly angry looking one! You are expecting scenario B to unfold and when the checkin girl says "there will be a charge for that windsurf board" you quickly correct her "surfboard it is a surfboard" girl "just one?" you reply "yes just one, its not heavy!" Now you think that you are set and start to finger your credit card in anticipation when girl pipes up "Sir, that will be £756 (the most any single checkin staff has tried to charge me - BA London Gatwick to Lisbon), how would you like to pay for that?". After 20 minutes of calling for supervisors, stressing, balancing against your food budget, putting even more stuff in your carry on, wearing 3 layers of clothes, throwing away that bag of chocolates you just bought, ditching a couple of presents, I mean stripping your stuff virtually bare you settle for a ridiculous £334.56. You feel robbed but as if to stick the boot in a little more she pipes up once more "I am just doing my job, have a nice day”. Once you get through Airport Security you finally manage to calm yourself down and do some rather dodgy accounting over a cold beer then when you finally make it to your seat # 11A the guy next to you is massive, I mean huge like 350 lbs, that’s like 7 bags and he hasn't been charged any more for his seat than for your skinny ass, now you are really pissed!

So I guess the message of this post is one aimed directly at the airline industry, we are happy to pay but please lets just be sensible about this, we fly allot, we publicize these sunny beautiful holiday spots that people come to visit which means more flights and more profits for the airlines, we buy up those cheap one way tickets to the Canaries that nobody else wants, as surfers and windsurfers we do our fair share for the airlines so it is about time they looked after us a little better.

Fingers crossed for senario B tomorrow!

More to follow...

1 comment:

  1. Hey Chris!

    This is Josh Sampiero, Editor of WindSurfing Mag in the USA.

    Want to include your blog on our blog box at shoot me an e-mail at