A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to fly a US Airways jet to Reno, Nevada for a conference. Usually I'm a customer of AirTran or Delta, as I live in Atlanta, so this was a new carrier for me. Since the media regularly broadcasts the latest shenanigans of the various airline "brain trusts", I was aware of the baggage surcharges that probably awaited me. Since I was going to the conference to make pictures, I had a fair bit of photo gear in my bag, which put it over the 50 pound limit.
Imagine my disappointment when I was told at the ticket counter that unless I could get my bag to the 50lb. limit, there would be an additional $50 charge, on top of the $25 "first bag" charge. It was suggested that if I could remove some items to get the weight at or below the 50lb. limit, and carry them on the plane, then there would be no $50 charge.
Being the student of logic that I am, I had to ask the question. "So let me get this straight...if I carry on the excess weight, there is no additional charge?" "That's correct sir," was the reply. The twisted logic of their policy suddenly became crystal clear. I then asked "so what you are telling me is that this is a "penalty shot"?" The response was a muted agreement...
This routine was repeated on my return trip. Since I carry about 35 pounds in my camera bag (camera, lenses, laptop, etc. it all adds up!), carrying more weight wasn't really an option.
Being the business owner that I am, it really galls me when a "gotcha" is perpetrated, under the guise of "Policy". Why this doesn't count as a monopolistic practice, I'll never know. If there was an alternative to paying the 50 bucks, such as a way to remove the excess weight, and send it via FedEx/UPS or US Mail, then it wouldn't be so aggravating. But when you are standing at the ticket counter, with the clock ticking, and no real alternative, you whip out the plastic and get it over with. A smiling bandit is still a bandit. Obviously, it didn't leave me with "warm fuzzies" towards US Airways.
So what alternatives does one have ? Well, I could've gone through the bag, pulled out 10 pounds of stuff, and carried that on the plane. That wasn't a real good alternative. The other alternative was to write about it here, and to let you, and US Airways know (if they care) that I'd rather walk next time, than ride on their airline.
Even though I thought their employees, pilots, and planes did a fine job, their business policies stink. All other things being equal, I'll choose another airline next time. When confronted with a policy that just isn't right, I"ll do what many do...that being to vote with my feet...and not be back.