Recently, my mom came to
visit. I love it when she comes to visit
because odd things always seem to happen.
Two or three visits ago, we took her to
Superior by train. The train derailed
and we walked about 4 miles down the tracks to find the bus that was sent to
pick us up. See? Odd!
Poor mom’s been beaten up by snow tubes, whisked away by water-falls,
and one time her electric cart ran out of juice, stranding her in the middle of
the Mall of America.
This most recent visit was without
any major incident, but an odd thing did happen when I took her to the
airport. I know the MSP airport better
than some of its employees do, so I offered to park the car and walk my mother
into the airport to make sure she found the fast luggage drop and the hidden
security gate, etc. It was odd to see
the airport through her eyes; eyes devoid of the frequent traveler
tunnel-vision that I have. For instance,
they actually charged her when she chose to move up a few rows to a new aisle
seat. They charged her again for her
luggage. The nerve! The unmitigated gall! How DARE they…
Its true, despite having paid for
a full fare ticket, mom had to plunk down another $40 or so to board the plane
with her bag. I wondered about all of
the 16 year olds flying for the first time, did they have cash or credit enough
to throw down $40 and still have enough for a meal or incidentals should they
get delayed? For the non-elite travelers
among us, this requires planning. For
the elite travelers like me, this represents some new things to be aware
of. For instance, in order to avoid
paying the baggage fee, people are dragging two roller-bags with them, instead
of one larger bag to check, banking on the fact that flight attendants rarely
(if ever) enforce the one bag per person rule.
Also, they’ll drag a “larger than allowed” bag with them on
purpose, knowing full well that it won’t fit in the overhead bin, and then
feigning surprise at the gate, “Oh, my bag doesn’t fit. Woe is me… I guess I’ll have to gate check
this one!” Without a charge to gate
check a bag, this behavior is happening more and more often.
What can you do? In some cases, you can play along! More and more regional “jump jets”
are offering less and less room in the overhead bin. If you know ahead of time that you’ll have to
gate check your bag, there’s no harm in bringing a slightly larger one (just
don’t push a full steamer trunk up the ramp toward them). If you know you’re going to have to pay to
check the bag, then get your money’s worth and put most of your stuff in the
bag you have to pay for. That way,
you’re less encumbered as you walk around the airport (just remember to keep
your keys, wallet, and prescription drugs with you in case they lose it). Finally, if they do lose your bag, you have
an excellent case to have your money refunded to you. Remember that cooler heads prevail in
situations like those and if you’re insistent but polite, you’ll get your money
Not everyone’s mother has survived
a full scale train derailment. Mine has,
but she’s a rare trouper! The good folks
at the train depot were more than sorry; they quickly gave us our money back
and fell over themselves apologizing.
I’ve never seen the airlines do that….
EXTRA: If you have questions for Ken regarding
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