VIRGINIA -- I read the posting about the AirTran passengers that had two golf bags, and I commiserate. This is our own encounter:
I was guiding my 75 year-old mom and 70-year old aunt (walking with a collapsible cane) through their airport check in for a domestic flight. They are going on their second city on their 2-month vacation that started with a flight from abroad three weeks ago. Think of a 75 year old mother wanting to visit all her children one by one before she settled down on a more slow-paced life abroad. Well, for this domestic trip, my mom still packed her 61-inch standard sized luggage (good for both domestic and international flights). We weighed it and measured it at home. It all checked fine. If you are letting two 70-something ladies to fly on their own, you try to get things in order for them as best as you could. Looks like I failed.
At the AirTran check-in counter, my aunt's small checked-in luggage weighed around 34 lbs. Fine. When my mom's luggage was weighed, it came out at 58 lbs, 8 lbs overweight. Of course, I was surprised the weighing I did at home was inaccurate. But, knowing there is an easy solution, I did not think twice kneeling down the airport floor as I did the transferring of about 8 lbs from my mom's luggage to my aunt's much lighter luggage. I did not think to just pay the $39 excess baggage. As I labored on the airport floor digging through luggage, of course, the two 70-something ladies tried to help me. So there were all three of us looking pathetic stooped on the airport floor. At that point, I felt guilty and thought I should just have paid the $39 and not subject them to that. But I was already doing it, so we just went ahead and proceeded with the luggage transfer of about 8 lbs. When we were done, we thought that was the end of it, so we approached the baggage check-in again to re-check in them again. The weights checked out fine. BUT THEN, the ticket agent said, NOW I will measure the size. It did not even register to me as something to worry about. We just removed 10 lbs from the large luggage, so it should be really squeezed to its within-limit measurementss more than it was before we took stuff out of it. The check-in agent, per his measurement, now says it was 64-inches. If you see a long line of people behind you, wouldn't you be forced to relent, out of courtesy and common sense, to just pay the darn thing? At that point, I felt that I had my hands held up and I was being robbed, asked to turn over the money.
I was starting to get really assertive at this point. A baggage boy approached my bag sitting on the weigh scale and put his hands or arms around it and looked at me motioning something like, "I don't think it is oversized." So I told the check-in agent something like, "He said it's not oversized. It looks like the baggage boy has more sense or good judgment than you." The check-in agent responded, "he's just a baggage boy."
Before I go on further, I don't even know how to describe the whole " nonsensical, money-grubbing vs customer service, check-in robbery episode. If I knew, I should have just paid the $25 for a second checked-in luggage and have my 75 year old mom check-in whatever she had to handcarry or slug across the airport. Does AirTran really think so poorly of its passengers as rascals who think they can slip through two extra inches, real or imagined? Do we just cower and hand in our payments and be done with it? The, fine, but at least allow me to claim that that morning, I was the victim of a hold up.