Not so long ago, I asked a ticketing agent at the airport why they charged a premium cost for heavy luggage when skycaps did not. I was told that the extra cost was to cover their insurance rates that will, in turn, pay for their extensive back injuries received while lifting and pivoting with all of those heavy bags to get them onto the luggage belt. “OK,” I said, “then why is it even higher for international flights? I mean, you don’t have to pivot any further to get the international bag on the belt, do you?” At that point, she just gave me, “the look.” It was the same look my wife gives me when I ask her why she colors her hair a different shade of red than the one she already has… so I left her alone.
When checking in for an Alaska Airlines flight next time at Anchorage International, check out its “no-lift” counter design. I’ve seen this system before in
It’s a pretty slick system. So slick in fact, that the first belt stops momentarily on a scale to weigh your bag. Yes, despite not having to lift anything anymore, they still want to know how heavy your bags are. Now, if your bag weighs more than 45lbs, they’ll charge you and the reason is no longer “insurance cost,” it’s “fuel cost.” What if you spread your 46lbs of luggage into two 23lb bags? They’ll charge you a different fee for the extra bag, even though you’re bringing the same amount of weight on board! Allow me to let you in on a little secret… no matter how advanced fuel systems, aircraft, luggage, or the belts that move them become, the airlines will, most certainly, continue to find reasons to charge you for your bags.
The only way to “out-weigh” the system is to pack less and pack light. Seriously, it’s time for a reckoning. Even if you have frequent flier status on your airline and you can pack and check extra bags for free, take it from someone who’s learned to travel with one roller-bag and a small laptop backpack… your back will thank you and you’ll be far more prepared for the future when they raise the rates even higher. I managed to pass this wisdom on to my wife. Our second trip to
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