I recently had a funny airline luggage experience that reminded me how crazy the whole airline luggage business is. I flew to Vancouver with my kiteboarding gear packed in the bag shown above. This bag is labeled “golf” and weighs 45lbs fully loaded. Because the airlines think it’s full of golf clubs they let me fly for free with it. If I rolled up with the same bag and it was labeled “Kiteboarding” I would be charged $75 because it’s over sized. Ironically on my flight back from Vancouver I also had with me a used 5’10″ surfboard I bought from a fellow kiteboarder. This board weighs about 12lbs in its bag. Because it’s a surfboard they charged $75 for it.
Another time with the same airline I flew to LA with my touring bike in a box. They charged me $75 for the bike even though I had called ahead and was told that as long as it was one of my two allowed bags it would fly for free. On the return flight I couldn’t find a large bike box and had to pack my bike into two smaller boxes. I was expecting to get charged $75 for the first box for being over sized and then $75 + $50 for the second box since it was over sized and I now had 3 bags. When I checked in they didn’t charge me a penny for my luggage.
What did I learn from all this:
- Lie about the contents of your luggage. If 45lbs of golf clubs fly for free and the exact same bag with kiteboarding stuff costs $75 I feel no shame or remorse for not telling the truth.
- Be early for your flight and be super friendly to the check in staff. The folks at the check in counter can pretty much do whatever they like when it comes to over sized luggage. If you are there early the plane will be empty and all they need is a reason to waive the fees so smile and chat them up.
- Be ready for anything to happen. If the airline has an official policy that works in your favour print the details off their website or get the name and tel# of someone you spoke with as proof.
- If it all goes pear shaped and you are getting charged a bunch of $$$ accept it with grace. Freaking out will likely not do anything to change the situation and you are just starting off your trip on a sour note.