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|| News Item: Posted 2009-09-03

Travel Smart: Excess Baggage
By Doug Murdoch, Think Tank Photo

Photo by Doug Murdoch / Think Tank Photo

Photo by Doug Murdoch / Think Tank Photo
Although I recommend to others to "Travel Smart," I did something not so smart in Australia, when I went to PMA Australia in June.

I had heard nightmare stories about photographers traveling in Australia, given the smaller carry on standards for INTERNAL flights and also strict enforcement. I had my Airport Acceleration backpack fully loaded, and most likely over the stated carry on weight, and had no issues. I was never checked for the size or weight of the bag. I enjoyed Virgin Blue's quirky sense of humor, from Melbourne to Brisbane. My backpack went easily in the overhead. But that was not the problem.

The problem was that I did not read the fine print about excess baggage. They charge you for ALL of your checked bags.

When we were going to the airport to check in, I had an absolutely HUGE duffle with bag samples, and then I had a large roller with dense and heavy printed material. And then I gave my buddy a THIRD bag to check in for me. I had that weird premonition that I was making a mistake, but of course I ignored the warning signal.

We were waiting in line and they were weighing everyone's checked bags. I knew I was trouble this time. She weighed my bags, and then told me it was going to cost U$ 300.00 to check my bags.

I didn't say a word and just gave her my credit card. I knew it was my fault for not reading the fine print, and for not making alternative arrangements to ship the stuff prior to the flight. I made the mistake of thinking they would charge me like the USA carriers, say 25 -50 bucks for each extra bag.

To put this in perspective, the U$ 300.00 charge was THREE TIMES THE COST OF THE ACTUAL PLANE TICKET.

I wasn't upset with Virgin Blue. I was pissed at myself for not doing my homework. Before we boarded the plane, there was a sign that said "Check Your Mental Baggage Here." And so it goes.

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