Having lived near Charlotte, NC for many years prior to becoming a Pacific Northwesterner, I flew on US Air flights not infrequently. Evan was even one of their preferred (I don’t recall the specific title) Dividend Miles customers because he flew with them so frequently on business trips out of Charlotte. When Gabriel and I recently were trying to get back to Seattle from Charlotte after a trip East, US Air and I experienced a painful break up.
I initially flew to Charlotte on a Continental flight as we got a great fare (of course, I later realized why – the connection was through Newark). In any case, the return flight was cancelled, and Continental placed us on a US Air flight from Charlotte to Houston, followed by a Continental flight from Houston to Seattle. After being booked, we walked to the US Air counter, where no one was available to assist us with getting boarding passes (the automated kiosks did not recognize our information). Finally I called a woman over to help us, and she rudely informed me that I needed to use the kiosk. When I explained that our information was not in there because we had been re-routed, she then told us Continental should have dealt with this. I explained to her that the flight from Charlotte to Houston was a US Air flight and we needed boarding passes from US Air.
Then came the baggage check. Gabriel and I were both fully ticketed passengers – we paid for two tickets. However, for ease of travel, we consolidated our items into one large suitcase. The suitcase weighed 57 pounds, seven pounds over what they allow for the $15 charge for a single checked bag. I asked how much I owed per pound over, and she informed me it was a $50 fee for any amount over 50 pounds, be it an extra half of a pound or 20 pounds. I wondered if this was an issue with workers not having to lift bags that are too heavy, but no – if you’re first class, your bag can weigh up to 70 pounds, free of charge.
Next came the obvious question – since we paid for two tickets, but were only checking one bag, could she just charge me $15 as if we were checking a second bag that weighed seven pounds? No, she told me. The rules clearly state that I had to move seven pounds from one suitcase into another bag. But why, I asked? It’s easier to have it in one bag, and I’ll just pay you $30. No, she replied, it’s our policy that any amount over 50 pounds for cabin passengers is an additional $50 charge. At this point, my mother, bless her heart, lit into her, and an impressive verbal exchange took place between the two of them. Eventually, we took seven pounds worth of stuff out of the suitcase and left it with my mother in Charlotte. Then, to find that US Air did not carry milk on their flight from Charlotte to Houston was absurd! With all of the children flying, and not being able to bring extra milk through security, how can they get away with not providing it on the planes, even at a charge? Continental had it and was happy to share it.
Flying used to be fairly simple, and fun at times. It has gotten to be so miserable. Between this episode, having to leave a secured area in Houston to travel between terminals and then re-endure security with a toddler for the second time in a single day, getting to Houston and realizing that every single food service place had closed by 6PM and food was nowhere to be found (fortunately my cousin, a flight attendant, was able to buy food for us and bring it to us), and having my son’s little plush puppy taken from him in Seattle to be examined by security while he cried helplessly, I was ready to be finished with air travel. However, because we live 3000 miles from my family, air travel will remain part of our lives, despite my disdain for it.