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|| News Item: Posted 1999-07-21

Travel Tips: Airline Baggage Restrictions
Special Travel Advisory

By Captain Ron

Hooray! Those scum sucking, bottom feeding tube worms at United have finally seen the light.

Photo by Captain Ron

Photo by Captain Ron
The old 9x14 rectangular templates at the security screening stations are have been replaced, with a NEW 10 x 22 garment bag friendly cutout.

(it's a weird shape, check out the web site version of Sports shooter for a pix) The security personal at LAX tell me that business flyers were raising a shit storm over the fact their garment bags wouldn't fit thru the old template.

What this means to you and me, is that our old rollaboards can now be used once again to safely transport our cameras, computers and lenses.

You know while we're on the subject of baggage and money grubbing, greedy airlines (no, I'm not just picking on UA) let's talk about EXCESS, as in baggage charges.

Years ago, in the golden days of aviation, when baggage tags had a three letter designation of the airport you were traveling to, if you had a few "extra" bags, you could always just slip the skycap a $20.00 bill and go on your merry way. Now with bar coded baggage tags, that's become a travel trick of the past. Even the goddamn agent at the gate knows how many bags you checked! (it's printed on your boarding pass) That's so you can't claim to have only checked (1) piece and are entitled to (2) carry on's.

When the airlines started to crack down on the SIZE of carry on baggage, they also got really aggressive in enforcing the (2) checked pieces rule and OVERSIZE and OVERWEIGHT restrictions.


MONEY ... (for the MBA weasels, "revenue stream")

Photo by Captain Ron

Photo by Captain Ron
United Airlines for example charges:
$50.00 for each extra piece, 4 to 6
$75.00 per piece, 7 to 9
$150.00 per piece 10 and up.

If any of your regular checked bags are OVERWEIGHT (70 lbs.) or OVERSIZE
(62 linear inches) the fee is $50.00 per bag.

Bend over and get the Vaseline.

Now some more enlightened carriers offer a "Network / Film commercial / Professional photographer" FLAT excess baggage rate as low as $20.00 per piece!!! That includes OVERWEIGHT (up to 100lbs) and OVERSIZE (104 linear inches)

WOW! Whatta deal!!!!! Which airlines offer this terrific value? (read that as, What airline wants my business)

Potentially, all of them.

Huh? Well there are other factors; it depends on the day of the week, the phase of the moon, if your cat has been neutered, Etc


Look, here's the deal, a couple of the MAJOR carriers have "special" excess baggage policies for:


Photo by Captain Ron

Photo by Captain Ron
The first problem is finding a skycap or ticket agent that's motivated enough to go looking thru the myriad of baggage regulations to find these written policies!

For example the printout above was "secured" from airline "A" (ok, I pulled it out of the trash can when the agent wasn't looking) and I put in my ticket wallet. A week later I was flying airline "A" and I had (4) extra bags to check. The agent told me that it would be an extra $180.00 for excess baggage charges! I showed them a business card and asked him for the " PROFESSIONAL PHOTOGRAPHER " baggage rate and he blinked "I'm sorry sir, we don't offer such a rate"

Huh? I said.

Out comes the printout and VOILIA! My excess baggage charges are now only $80.00

Now I'd like to think that the agent wasn't lying to me, and was just ignorant of the company's various baggage tariffs but if I hadn't had that printout, I'd be $100.00 poorer.

Recently I was killing some time at airline U's clubroom and I asked the agent about their excess baggage fees. She hemmed and hawed and then claimed that they didn't deal with those issues upstairs in the clubroom and that I'd have to go down to baggage claim and talk to the folks in baggage services. So off I went to converse with baggage services.

The lady in the office was quite pleasant and efficient. She located the information right away and recited it to me chapter and verse. I asked her if I could get a printout of the policy?


"No, I'm sorry I can't do that for you ... we ummm don't have a printer here"

"Ok" I replied, "I'll just get a copy printed upstairs in the clubroom" so off I went back to the club.

Back in the clubroom, I gave the agent the location of the document and asked her for a printout.

Huh? (she kinda had that look of a deer caught in the headlights of a truck just before it gets run over)

She disappears for what seems like an eternity (I think she was hoping I had a flight to catch) She reappears and starts to hand the printout to me, then stops and proceeds to tear off the top and bottom sections of the printout. (humm... why did she do that?) I thank her and tuck the shred of paper in my pocket.

It's time for some detective work (dumpster diving) Examination of another printout shows me that a terminal ID code is on every page (kinda like a email message header)

Aha! She didn't want the printout's origin traced!

I can only speculate that the airlines just don't want this information out there.

The agents at ticket counters at PDX, DEN, LGA, and LAX denied or were unaware of the NETWORK / TELEVISION / BROADCASTING / COMMERCIAL FILM-MAKING, baggage rate. (BTW it's $50.00 per bag, no limit, in case you're reading the email version of Sports Shooter)

Ok, now you know it's out there, so get out there and get yourself a copy and keep it with your travel documents. (I suppose you could try to lift a copy from the web page, but at 72 dpi. Don't count on it being very legible.)

(Captain Ron's goal in life to sail around the world in his float tube.)

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