Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Tiny Clothes and a Big Purse

On Monday, I bought a plane ticket, which is agonizing of course, because there are all these rules, like "If you try to cancel this ticket even one minute after you buy it, even if it's because you got run over by a truck, and your house burnt down, and there's a tornado bearing down on your car at this exact second, and you need a refund because you need every extra penny for truck-injury-repairing surgery, a new house, and tornado restoration services, we will not give you back any money, and we will charge you an extra $250 for even attempting to cancel your reservation. Also, don't even think about spelling your own name wrong, because the airline's penalty for a plane ticket name change is death."

But the thing that I'm all riled up about right now is how much they charge you for baggage. After I went to various travel sites and all of the various airlines' websites to find the lowest price for a ticket, I realized that I had to revisit every site to see how much they charge for checked baggage. Because prices vary from about $15 to $25 for just one bag (each way). So, if you pick one airline because their price was $10 cheaper and then you have to pay $50 for your baggage to come on the trip, too, it kind of defeats the purpose. It used to be that every airline gave you two checked bags for free and then charged you for extras. Then it was one free checked bag per person. Now, most major airlines charge you to check any baggage at all. That's annoying enough as it is, but it gets worse.

On some airlines, you are charged not only on how many bags you're bringing, but also on how much each bag weighs. So, on a US Airways flight for example, you pay $20 for your first checked bag, unless it weighs over 50 pounds, in which case you pay $70 each way. For your second bag, you pay $30, unless it's over 50 pounds, in which case you pay $80 each way. Obviously, they're charging you these exorbitant amounts because of the bad economy, fuel costs, etc, but the thing I'm annoyed about at this exact moment is this - the premise is that the heavier the plane is, the more fuel it's going to use, so the more it's going to cost, right? But... they don't weigh the passengers! So, they can't possibly have an accurate idea of how much the plane weighs, because they don't know how much everyone in it weighs. So, let's say I bought a plane ticket for $200. If I take my 123 pound self onto a plane, and I bring two checked bags, each of which weighs 51 pounds (because I would totally be that unlucky), I'm going to pay $500 to have the plane cart 225 pounds on a round trip flight. Meanwhile, if a 350 pound NFL linebacker flies round trip on the same flight, for the same ticket price, but because he's a guy (and let's be honest, the average guy typically packs less than the average girl), he only has one 25 pound carry-on bag, he pays $200 to fly 375 pounds round trip, while I pay $500 to fly 225 pounds round trip. It's like the story problem from hell!

The long term solution is for us all to write angry letters to the airlines. I'm not saying that they have to weigh the passengers - I'm just saying that weighing luggage is completely useless and arbitrary if they're not going to weigh the passengers. And also that $50 to bring clothes with you on your trip is exorbitant, and it's pretty unfair to charge me more if the combined weight of me AND my luggage is less than the weight of the guy next to me.

My short term solution to this problem is - as this post's title states - tiny clothes and a big purse. I'm going to the beach with my sister, so I feel like it's possible to pack a week's worth of bikinis, shorts, sundresses and tank tops into a carry on bag and a big purse. Can I do it? I think I can, but stay tuned to find out! (Although, when I was in bed, about to fall asleep last night, I suddenly jolted awake when I realized that I can't bring my gigantic hair dryer and diffuser with me if I don't bring my typically enormous suitcase. Sigh. Luckily, my flat iron is small, so I guess I'll just have straight hair all week - which will be challenging when I'm by the ocean...)

36 comments:

helcar13 said...

You're completely right! I don't think i ever thought about that before (of course i'm not technically old enough to be trusted to buy my own plane ticket, but hey!) lol good luck packing!

Rachel said...

Good luck with that! I don't think I could do it. Even when I went camping... I could not pack lightly.

But you're right, the fine print about cancelling terrifies me too!

Winna said...

If Southwest is available from where you are from or where you are going, I would suggest them. They are the only airline yet to charge the baggage fee. I have also heard about people sending their stuff via FedEx, but that seems like it would be expensive and possibly only worth it if you are going overseas! Good luck to ya though. Between a purse and a carry (which most airlines have allowed to be a bit bigger these days) I think you can make it!

.::L said...

I've become extremely proficient at packing to NOT check a bag. I HATE checking bags.

Get out a medium sized rolling suitcase. Those are fine. I've flown across the country for five days with that. Bring a gigantor beachbag as your "purse" carry on and stuff your actual purse in it when you are getting onto the plane.


Just be sure any makeups and lotions are under 3ozs and you'll be fine with just a carry on.

Lauren said...

I totally hear you on the inanity of the airline industry - I wish an airline or some other form of transportation would come along and change the whole industry, because that is what it would take. They don't care about the passengers anymore. It's a terrible thing to have to fly anywhere. I just hope you don't get stuck in any delays as well as the challenges of packing!!

Dollface said...

Soon they will charge for choosing your seat as well, isnt that nuts! xxxoo

JenJen said...

Did you hear about the airline in Europe somewhere that wanted to charge people to use the toilet? Honestly, some people should be charged for chaos they leave behind...
Great Read, as usual!

Carrie said...

I say stuff that bag full! There's no point in paying those outrageous prices. And surely you can borrow a hair dryer, right? Gah. I can't believe they'd have the nerve to charge that much for a suitcase.

Janelle said...

Sheesh, I was so worried about booking my flight and now you've got me terrified about packing! Off to check my airlines baggage regulations!
good luck keeping your hair straight by the beach!

wendy said...

You just totally put a whole new spin on this...I hadn't considered the overall weight issue before - and you're absolutely right. This is ridiculous!

How about you WEAR all your clothes?! ;)

Married to a med student - Marissa Nicole said...

SO TRUE - why is the airline industry the only industry in which they can treat the consumer/customer like crap? It is no wonder they are having financial trouble... but we all need to travel so we keep overpaying them for their terrible customer service!

SkylersDad said...

I think we should go back to the old days when each passenger had to get on the scale and be weighed before the got on the plane.

True stuff!

Debbi said...

Totally true Re: weighing the baggage.

I haven't taken a flight for long enough to not have yet experienced this atrocity!

BR..K. .LL.N said...

I fly with a carry on and a personal item everywhere I go. My carry on is a small duffel bag (like what most people take to the gym) and my personal item is a backpack, that's it nothing more.
I am a huge overpacker but if I can't wear it or get in in these two then I don't need it. Flight attendant sized bags is what you should do- I should get one too matter of fact.

Jasmine said...

What a mess. I have yet to fly, and I don't think I'd feel like dealing with the hassle. Good luck with your packing!

Charisse said...

I flew shortly after Delta started charging for the 2nd bag you bring on. Unfortunately, I purchased my tickets shortly BEFORE they started this. So, I ended up paying $50 bucks for mine and my daughter's SECOND suitcase. There was no way I could pack two weeks worth of stuff into our two suitcases.

But, guess what...I went and borrowed a bigger suitcase for my daughter's stuff so that on the trip home we only checked one bag each.

My daughter's trip with her father to Mexico last month was more difficult. They were going for two weeks and needed a looot of stuff. He ended up just having to pay the money to check suitcases.

Its all redonkulous!!!

Tranquility said...

I agree completely! And my pilot husband also agrees completely! It's ridiculous.

And I'm probably the odd ball here, but for me, I get more frustrated over individual fees than I do about high prices - there are too many inconsistencies (like the weight thing). If the airlines need to charge more, than I wish they would just raise the cost of the ticket and drop all the stupid fees.

Whenever possible I fly Southwest. Sometimes Alaskan Air. They seem to be the last remaining airlines where the employees are still friendly and everything remains relatively simple and clear. (plus the Southwest company treats their employees well and I am all about supporting good employers).

Tranquility said...

Oh - and now, because of all the baggage fees, more people are taking their rolling cases as carry on. I certainly don't blame them - you've gotta do what you've gotta do - but I think the airlines are stupid for putting people in that position - there is plenty of baggage space for the suitcases below the plane, but not that much room in those tiny overhead bins. Now it takes twice as long to load the plane because you have to wait for people to figure out where to stow their giant carry on luggage. ;)

la aventurista said...

Isn't it ridiculous!? You make a good point about weight too...so crazy. I think ALL story problems are from hell though...;)

J.J. in L.A. said...

I went to Minnesota for a week last October and only had a carry-on. I figured even Minnesota had washers and dryers. ; ) I didn't bother with soap or shampoo either.

I did check it on the way home ($15) because I was flying alone and had my wheelchair to deal with.

tea for tessa said...

Here's a little secret;

Get a gallon size plastic ziplock and put all bikinis in that and squeeze all the air in it out and zip it. It will act as an airtight sealer. You can also do this with shirts, leggings, etc.

Good luck! & with all these fees that they are charging everyone for everything that it really really restricts people to travel. People need to explore other territories. Of course they make it as hard as possible to get the hell out. Ha ha.

-Tessa

miss. chief said...

wow, those are some math skills you have! haha...i always aim to only have carry on because i hate he baggage carousel wait. you can do it, just roll your clohes up. worst case scenario-wrinkles

ppt said...

fyi, use kayak.com to find the cheapest deal. seriously, they search all airlines on one sight!

Katherine said...

It's the cost of checked baggage that makes me do carry on all the time, unless it is a very long trip. When I was interviewing for residency, I would manage (somehow) to get everything in the maximum size allowed carry on bag. And then I brought a big purse as well. But then, you can't bring any fluid containers bigger than 3 oz, so that causes its own problems. It never ends.

Sandy K. said...

It's getting SO annoying, and ridiculous. I love the big purse and tiny clothes idea, but my clothes are not that tiny. Bummer. We also carry a lot of camera gear..and when the security person starts taking out each lens, and I walk possessively close to the table, and he says "step back from the table," I just want to scream! I'll step away when you get away from my stuff!

Comedy Goddess said...

I dream of traveling with nothing but what I wear on the plane, knowing that I will buy whatever I need when I land, and donate everything before leaving.

Adriana said...

OMG I totally hear you on this and your take is awesome. The ONLY good thing about having to pay for plane tickets for my young children is that we get extra carry on's for them. It sucks trying to get through an airport with 3 roller bags, 2 kids, a stroller, and the rest of our crap. My how times have changed lol.

Laura said...

Packing is the worst and I always try to pack everything that I have. To put a smile on your face, stop by and enter the 'What makes you smile?" giveaway...good luck!

Sassy Chica said...

Good luck with this one Chica!

I will stay tuned to see how it goes for ya!

Sassy Chica

P.S. great blog!!

Crystal Copeland said...

I never really thought of it that way before! Makes sense to weigh the passengers if you are going to weigh the luggage.

Also, could you just borrow your sisters hairdryer?

Travelbug Mom said...

Just returned from 16 days in Europe and traveled with one small suitcase and carry bag - and that is SOOO unlike me - anyway bought a GREAT TINY haridryer at Bed Bath and Beyond (with coupon of course)....OK not my CHI, but worked awesome....look into it - it was called baby bliss?....

Leah said...

I travel back and forth to Baltiore a lot and I almost always fly Southwest. They still give snacks (some airlines don't even do that anymore) and it's free to be in their rewards program, so every 8 round trips you fly you get a free one. ALSO, you don't have pay AT ALL to check your bags unless they're over 50 lbs. Best airline ever! Did I mention there's no change fee? You only pay the difference between the price of your flight and the new flight you choose. And no, I don't work for Southwest, I just love them!

Lamar said...

This is a call to everyone to please step outside the right vs. left paradigm. While there are important issues worth debating within this paradigm, all of them will be moot if we do not focus on a much greater issue outside this paradigm. Thomas Jefferson warned of wealth concentrating to such an extent that it threatened the state. Nowadays the media has taught us all very well to ridicule anyone who talks of central banks usurping the power of government. Well now I suppose the media will have to laugh at themselves, as many outlets from Newsweek to the Financial Times of London are openly discussing the creation of a "bank of the world" that will control economic policies of every nation. I invite you to watch this video, which details how this is currently taking place. While it focuses on our current officials' cooperation with these plans, it steps out of the typical political paradigm by highlighting the cooperation of both parties. Please do not look to politicians to protect us. Only we can protect us. And our first step must be to reach out to police and military. Without their cooperation, the global elite won't have the muscle to exercise their will of oppression. Please share this oath-keepers blog with them.

SimplyValorie said...

Dang girl, those are some good math skills. :) I'd figured out that the airlines were stupid for all their fees, but now seeing the actual numbers and your logic I'm kind of mad. I have some connections with American Airlines -- I'll be sure to direct them to your post.

Mona said...

I'm amazed how soooo many men will simply bring a change of underwear and a toothbrush with them for an overnight, while I will have at least 2 changes of clothes, personal hygiene items, perhaps something to read and, of course, my hair blower for my overnight. Oddly, their clothes often come with more pockets as well. Why, why, why? Packing for a trip has always been a challenge for me because I don't like checking my bags. Now I'm even more averse if I'll have to pay for the privilege.

Georgie K. Buttons said...

I don't fly often because I'm scared of heights. I think now I'll add something more reasonable to my list of why I don't fly-too much of a rip-off to check bags. Thanks for that bit of ammo. :)

In my opinion, we don't devote nearly enough scientific research to finding a cure for jerks. ~ Calvin & Hobbes