I've found that I can put up with most of the inconveniences of airline travel. That doesn't mean I like them, just that they fit in the category of Life Goes On. But there's one issue I've come across at airports that still gets me gnashing my teeth. It's when you're at the gate and hear the announcement that the flight is very full, so if anyone is willing the check their carry-on, the airline will do so for you complimentary with no charge
As soon as I hear that announcement, I grab hold of the arm rests and grip tightly, to keep myself from racing over to the airline rep wandering around to see who'd like to sign on to their complimentary offer.
Complimentary? Seriously? Are you kidding me?
The only reason the airline has had to make this announcement is because a few years ago, airlines make one of the more ill-thought out decisions possible, charging for checking your first piece of luggage. This guaranteed that overhead bins would be jammed with carry-ons, forcing passengers to scramble looking for space and delaying flights. While I understand the need to make more money, I also understand counter-productive measure, greed, arguably losing more money than you take in because of delayed flight times, and creating an unhappy customer based.
So, to call this a "complimentary service" to make up for the airlines own actions that caused it in the first place is, to me, the height of gall. I'm tempted on saying to rep, should he or she ever make it into my sphere, "I will happily check my luggage as MY favor to you if the airline will do something for me to make up for the inconvenience I'd be putting myself through, like a voucher towards my next flight, or bonus frequent flier miles. But to do for free what should be free to begin with and call it a complimentary gift-- no, thank you, but thanks for asking." I haven't said that yet, but I can't swear that I won't.
Which raises another airline luggage issue, the concept of weight restrictions for checked luggage. Again, I completely understand it. But the oddity is best expressed by Steve Burgess in his travel column here on The Tyee website. It's what he calls Samsonite Law of commercial airline physics. This states --
"Weight only counts when in the baggage hold. Your baggage is considered too heavy for the aircraft? Take that marble counter top out of your suitcase, stuff it into your carry-on, and voila, the exact same total poundage is now acceptable.”
That's the magic of airline physics. Shifting weight out of your checked luggage into your carry-on is the exact same amount of weight on the airplane, but weight in an overhead bin shrinks to nothingness.
If airlines said you had a total weight limit for checked luggage and carry-on, I would get that. Or if they said that there were separate limits for both checked luggage and carry-ons, I would grasp that concept, too. But they don't. They only have a weight limit for checked luggage. Because overhead bins apparently change the physics of the properties of weight.
It was this law of commercial airlines physics that got a couple of passengers recently to test the limits of the universe, carrying it to a different extreme because on some international flights there are limits on the weight of carry-on baggage. But not on what you wear.
The two travelers were going from Singapore to Sydney on Scoot Airlines. Alas, one of their carry-on pieces was over the weight limit, and they were about to be charged (are you ready?) $130. They felt that a bit excessive, and decided to play by the rules -- the ones that say what you wear doesn't count as weight. So, piece by piece, they went through their luggage and pretty much anything that could be worn...was. Including an extra pair of shoes crammed in one of their belts.
The best part of the story is airline rep who told the two guys, “I am going to come to the gate and make sure you are still wearing everything.”
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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