Baggage Fee Bothers Flier

August 21, 2010

in Odds & Ends Stories

I’ll say it right away: This one’s my fault.

First, some background: I’m an American studying on exchange for a year at a Dutch university. I’d managed to arrange my classes such that I could leave the beginning of December and return in March. I’m a Floridian, see, and I decided that this time I was going to be the one who comes down to Florida from up north to spend the winter. Amusingly, it snowed the day after and the day before I arrived, but I have never seen snow in the Netherlands. And that was the goal.

About a month before classes would start, I started looking for a ticket online. I should have done it sooner, but I didn’t. I saw an ad for, and a lot of their flights seemed really cheap. I saw that my connection would be in DC and I jumped on what seemed to be a great offer.

Afterwards, they sent me info stating that I’d have to change airports as I would be flying to Reagan National from home, and then from Dulles to Amsterdam. They also sent me an email asking for copies of my credit card and passport. Hell no, I thought. I jumped on Google, like I should have before buying tickets, and saw loads of people complaining about the quality of service – not to mention the more important matter, which is the likelihood of actually getting on a plane and flying somewhere.

I contacted the airlines (one leg was US Airways and one was AA, I think) and talked to both about my tickets, they both confirmed I was in their computer systems. I booked seats no problem. They insisted that because I’d bought the ticket all at once I would not have to pay for my baggage when I went from Reagan to check in again at Dulles. I don’t really know why I believed them.

As weeks went by I periodically worried about my tickets and whether I’d have a seat, so I’d call the airlines here and there to confirm everything was okay. I called’s office and they said I was okay. I didn’t mention the creepy form about the credit card specifically, but I did ask whether they had all the information they needed. Guy on the phone said yes.

As the day of the flight approached I felt pretty comfortable. I figured I’d done everything I could about a bad situation.

I was annoyed when I woke up the day of the flight with a terrible sinus headache, my throat on fire, and my nose dripping. I took some DayQuil, blew my nose and got ready for what would be a long day.

The flight was no problem, I got my tickets and everything. Flew into Reagan, got my bag quick – first one out! – and left. I took a cab from Reagan to Dulles, where I was surprised to be told I would have to pay to check my bags in. I tried arguing, a supervisor came over. He told me there was nothing he could do and told me that it was best to take it up with the airline about a refund. Fair enough, so I paid my fifty bucks and checked my bags.

I sat for my 5-hour layover. Eventually I got on the plane. I’d planned to drink a little whiskey and relax, but when I got on I just felt miserable. So I blew my nose and sat quietly, watching the in-flight movies. Eventually I landed, about 24 hours after I’d gotten to my original airport. I went to my apartment and fell asleep first thing.

The flight itself was pretty miserable, and the worry leading up to the flight wasn’t so great either, but as a poor college student I was just doing what I could with my limited financial resources. In spite of the $100 between the taxi and checking my bags in again, I still spent a good bit less than the next cheapest flight I had been able to find online. And really, I’d gotten to where I wanted to go.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Kad August 21, 2010 at 2:09 pm

I can't figure out what home (or where you mean when you say it), your apartment, on your way home, or layover (on the way back or not) means in your story.

As far as paying for baggage, yeah, I could see paying for it if you are bringing it to another airport yourself to fly another carrier.


madachode August 23, 2010 at 3:24 am

Listen, here's some advice, read the news, airlines have been charging baggage fee's for quite sometime now and just because you want to be a traitor or different and go to school in the Netherlands does not make you exempt from baggage fee's. Stay in stupid holland hopefully you and your luggage fall into one of those stinky canals.


Weasel August 23, 2010 at 1:34 pm

While madachode's comments are a bit outlandish, I will agree with one point, and only one point; baggage fees have been around for several years and are ancillary fees. They are going no where and are typically paid at the airport and often time online bookings do not collect them.

Think that's bad, Spirit started to charge twice that fee for carry-on bags, and it is most probable that the rest of the industry minus Southwest will follow. the airlines don't care about the passengers. Logic dictates if every airline treats you like crap, then you have no choice but to bend over and take it. Not like you can change airlines.


Rich October 25, 2010 at 12:07 pm

You are both missing the point. He paid his fees once, on the first leg of the flight. He asked and was told that was all he had to pay. This turned out to not be the case. I would be pissed too.


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