These days it seems most airlines are charging an arm and a leg for baggage while the carry-on sizes are simultaneously shrinking. Just one reason I love Southwest – two bags fly free! But you can’t always fly with the same airline. What happens when you fly an airline with strict baggage policies… say, Spirit or EasyJet? Or you’ve accidentally packed an oversized bag?
Mayhem.. mayhem happens. The challenge is on and you can find me in the airport bathroom layering myself in every piece of clothing humanly possible in an effort to make my questionable bag, carry-on acceptable. Do you ever push the limits of carry-on?
Usually it’s not intentional when I do. I’m lazy… I don’t measure my bag or weigh it before hand. I know I’ve flown with it before so I figure, “what the issue?”
Exhibit A. During study abroad, I booked a flight with EasyJet from Paris to Venice. My mom was traveling with me and we each brought our standard carry-on suitcases. The flight was a bit delayed so when they finally called for boarding, a long and impatient line was weaving through our end of the terminal. We rolled up to the counter with tickets in hand when I was prompted to put my suitcase in the little metal cage used for enforcing bag sizes. I gave the thing one sideways glance and new my bag was not fitting.
In a mad dash I started unzipping pockets and pulling out anything bulky. We shoved our purses until they couldn’t fit any more. I pulled on extra layers even though my face was burning and it felt like 100 degrees in that terminal as the long line pushed up behind us. We crammed a few things into my mom’s bag which was fortunately slightly smaller than mine and she carried something else through (I can’t remember what, probably some shoes). My bag just barely fit into the metal cage (after a few good kicks to get the wheels in). Standard carry-on, my ass. That’s when I learned airlines define bag sizes differently. Oh and in the mess of it all, my mom misplaced her boarding pass and further held up the line. Talk about embarrassing.
The first time I flew Spirit I noticed after checkout that I wasn’t allowed a carry-on. No carry-on. I could’ve purchased one for an additional fee during check out but I sort of glossed over the options and missed it, thinking, “man I’m getting such a great deal,” the whole time. Little did I know it would have cost the same as flying other (more preferable) airlines if I intended to bring any luggage with me.
I looked over their baggage policies and realized I could still purchase a carry-on bag but it was much more expensive to add on after booking the flight. No way was I going to fall into that trap. Instead I diligently measured my Vera Bradley overnight bag that had been hiding away in my close for years, and figured that if I didn’t fill it all the way I could squish it into whatever contraption they used to measure bag sizes.
When I arrived at the airport I grabbed a seat close to my gate and put in my headphones. Not long before boarding I noticed an elderly gentleman speaking to a flight attendant. He was in line to board the flight and looking really agitated. It looked like his duffle bag was too big and the attendant was trying to make him pay. He was having none of it and tried to walk past her. I am not kidding you when I say the flight attendant tried to wrestle that bag from his hands. It caused a whole fuss. I started feeling hot and realized his bag wasn’t much bigger than mine. I squished it up as small as I could and got on the plane without a problem. I swore I would never fly Spirit again after witnessing the squabble. (And yet here I am about to fly with them this weekend… #budgettravelerproblems.)
On the way to Mardi Gras I must have been completely out of it (or had just flown Southwest a few weeks prior) when I got all bug-eyed at the flight attendant who impatiently informed me that my bag was indeed too large to carry on and it would cost me $25 to check.
We were only going for a few days so the amount of stuff I packed was totally ridiculous: feather boas, sequin tops, costumes pieces just in case. I kicked myself for packing so liberally as I sucked it up and handed over my credit card.
But perhaps the worst experience of all is when you get on board the flight and feel like you’ve survived the carry-on limits only to discover your bag is just slightly too big to shove into the crammed overhead bins… Let’s talk about the shame of squeezing your bag overhead. This happens to me pretty much every time I fly.
Either there’s no space left because I’ve boarded last or my bag is just slightly larger than it should be with obnoxious wheels sticking out too far. In my case, it’s usually both. I pardon my way down the aisle hunting for the elusive spot above and when/if I find it, I breathlessly heave the bag up as those in the area duck for fear I might knock them out. Unless some nearby man is reluctantly caught side-eyeing my struggle and feels obliged to step in and take over.
So in a nutshell, this together traveler sort of loses her shit when it comes time to board the plane, suitcase in hand. Maybe it’s time to buy a smaller bag? Have any funny stories of your own? Tell me about them below!
*Image via Eye Swoon