26 September 2009

Checked Baggage

Few things have had me more frustrated lately than charges for checked bags. If I could fly Southwest Airlines to England, I would--not just because I would save on all of those extra charges, but because of the principle of the thing. The Southwest Airlines "checked bags" commercial has officially made me a loyal customer for life.

I mean, I have done a fair ammount of thinking about this over the course of my summer travels. For starters, let's talk about how unreasonable it is to try to pack exclusively in a carry-on given the current restrictions on liquids. But while this restriction seems highly unpractical (to me anyway) I must be in the minority, because you know if you have flown lately that EVERYONE is carrying on their luggage. So, you may be thinking, if everyone is doing it, why can't you just get your life and your liquids together and carry on your luggage too? If that is your question, I am going to skip the lecture on why "everyone" doing something isn't a good reason to join in. The fact that everyone is doing it just makes me more peeved about the whole situation.

Because, you may have noticed that planes are not built for every single person to bring on a piece of carry-on luggage. They're just not. And so, almost without fail, we end up "gate checking" a significant number of bags. In the case of those tiny planes whose overhead bins can barely hold your mom's purse, every bag gets gate checked. And THEN, in the most egregious display of gate checking, the guy who snuck his son's basketball team's equipment (I am not making this one up) onto the plane as a "carry-on" gets his bag gate checked too. And he doesn't have to pay for it. So what are we really paying for with that extra 15-25 bucks? It seems to me that "gate checking" requires more man-power, organization and inefficiency than just letting people check their luggage. But what do I know....

I am tempted to go on about how soon the airlines will probably price plane tickets based on your weight. In many ways, this would be more logical, since heavier people actually cost the airline more in gas. (In fact, that is the real reason why they pick up all the trash--it helps them get better gas mileage. Maybe I should have tried that in my car...) But I won't continue on this rant, because I have learned that it is important to admit when you were wrong.

I am the reason why they have all those charges.

I checked 2 bags weighing between 60-70 pounds each, and I was afraid for the life and health of every employee who had to pick them up. I almost felt guilty that I only paid $100 for their transport. And then, my bag caused a traffic jam at baggage claim. Seriously, the conveyor belt stopped and none of the other bags could get back to their owners because Bertha the Bohemeouth bag was blocking the entrance. So, to all of you who have to pay bag fees, I am at least partially to blame. I'm kind of sorry. But I would still rather fly Southwest. They'd love me and my bags no matter how heavy we are.

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