With excessive checked-bag fees, airlines have created the current insanity of air travel. To avoid the extra cost, passengers lug carry-ons the size of foot-lockers into the aircraft. Boarding slows to a snail’s pace as travelers struggle to find an overhead bin with enough room for their bag. Trying to exit is downright dangerous because oversized bags can fall on unsuspecting people.
When I recently flew to visit long-time friends, I wondered if my bag was small enough to carry-on. I checked the airline’s website for acceptable dimensions and found my suitcase was 1 1/2 inches too big. Since the website said “approximately,” I thought I might fudge it. At the airport, the wheels of my suitcase wouldn’t fit into the steel measuring crate. “It’ll have to be checked,” the airline attendant said. So, I ponied up an extra $25. Later, while standing in the security lines, I eyed the other carry-ons and realized my bag would have been one of the smaller ones, comparatively speaking. Yet, I had been conscientious and didn’t exceed the limits. To add insult to injury, I flew a puddle jumper on both legs of my flight, and all bags were gate-checked anyway because there were no overhead bins.
Needless to say, on my return trip, I carried my (marginally oversized) bag onto the airplane. The only problem I encountered was it was slightly heavy and cumbersome to do a clean-and-jerk into the overhead bin. Next time, I’ll pack lighter and use a bona-fide carry-on bag.
Charges for checked bags vary. Here are fees for some airlines. Keep in mind, these are for domestic flights; international flights cost even more. On Southwest Airlines, your first and second bag flies for free. Spirit Air charges $45 for a carryon, $28 for first checked bag, $35 for second. Delta and USAir and Continental– $25 for first bag, $35 for second. JetBlue-one bag checked for free.
You should always consult the airline’s website before flying to avoid unexpected expenses. Also, if you check your bag online ahead of time, you can save a little bit of money.
Marna Krajeski, author of HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE: The Moving Life of a Military Wife, HOUSEHOLD BAGGAGE HANDLERS: 56 Stories From the Hearts and Lives of Military Wives. Visit my second blog at www.GreatGetTogethers.com.
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