Thursday, 10 July 2014

Airborne Folly

Have you noticed the increasingly peculiar baggage policies of airlines?

It first really came to my attention last Summer, when my brother and his family flew over for a visit from England to the Netherlands. On the flight out, at the airport, they were annoyingly told they had to pay for their baggage to accompany them.
'I thought an airfare included your baggage,' my brother said, as he walked through my front door. 'What a rip off!'

These days, unless you are signed up as a 'member' of some airline's club, any bags for the hold are not included in the airfare. Pretty stupid really, but ok, for a quiet life I signed up. But wait . . . after luring me in, recently I received an email and they had moved the goal posts again. Now my Ivory membership didn't include baggage. I had to have a gold encrusted bejewelled one with bells and whistles - plus have taken 15 flights with them to regain the privilege.


Logically, most people travel with a change of clothes and personal effects. Agreed? It goes without saying that some sort of bag, filled with a change of clothes and personal effects generally accompanies you on a trip and is included in the ticket price.

Obviously, the rules are changing and being replaced by quick money makers to cover the rising costs of fuel. Or is there really a weight issue in the aeroplane's hold? Or could we be, as I suspect being right and royally ripped off? I'm not going to blame this one on the aftermath of the economic downturn because let's face it that excuse has been worn ragged.

As far as flights to sunny destinations are concerned, this scenario is not entirely new. For the last couple of years, when flying to places like Crete, Greece. I have been paying for my baggage and did assume it was a weight issue. When you look at what other people at check-in are taking with them for two weeks in the sun, it's mind boggling and payment by weight then seems a fair solution. They're the ones who have arrived at the airport at six in the morning in 16 degrees celsius, already dressed for the beach. In flip-flops and beach attire they buzz around their candy coloured hard-shell cases; enjoyment is a prerequisite of the trip. Forgive my cynicism, but do you really need that many cases - it's only two weeks!

Charges are per kilo weight and you can choose your package! I'm not complaining (*sigh*) but the extras do mount up. This Summer, for our trip to Greece, I have chosen 20 kg per person, per bag. at a cost of 20,00 euros per person. Ok, that's an extra 40,00 euros and in the scheme of things doesn't break the bank. But wait . . . did I mention it's each way? That's a total of 80,00 euros!

When it comes to the validity of this baggage charge, on the outward journey they certainly take notice of the kilo allowances at check-in. On the way back, however, no one cares - it's far too hot and the Greeks don't seem to be bothered by the absurdities of kilo allowances, as they shovel tourists on and off planes. They probably wouldn't bat an eyelid, if along with the raki, honey, herbs, shot glasses, Metaxa, shells and jewellery . . . I had a donkey in my luggage!

And there's more . . .

Another newly implemented delight is that the pre flight seat reservation is also no longer free, unless it is 24 hours before the flight. To reserve an ordinary seat it will cost 7,50 euros per person, each way, unless of course you want to stretch your legs - in the special seats - over the plane's wing by the emergency exits. That will cost you 15.00 euros per person each way. Although I did buy into this option - because I want to travel with my son and not have to wave at him from the other end of the plane - I'm not keen on it because it as a potential to encourage the mob mentality of bagging seats.

At times like this, I wish I could sprout wings and avoid all this nonsense, or that teleportation had been perfected as the way to travel - as in Star Trek -  but until then . . .

I expect in the not too distant future, fuel and tickets prices will rise again and then they will have to dream up some other scheme - a charge for oxygen on the flight maybe:
'Do you want to breathe for the whole flight, madam. Or will a couple of hours be sufficient?'
'You're a blond? Oh dear, it's Thursday - I'm afraid only brunettes travel for free today.'
'If your child fits into this baggage frame, you'll be exempt from the new 'travelling children tax'.

As I post this, it's probably pouring with rain, in Holland. I've made it to the sun and I am lounging by the pool - in 32 degrees - sipping a cocktail. The pernickety baggage and seat issues are but a hazy memory . . .

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