Flying a weigh
We have come a long way since the Wright Brothers hitched a ride on their glorified kite. We have flown men to the moon, simulated zero-gravity flights, and are setting sights on commercial space travel. And yet, some commercial airlines today still have problems with weight.
Some of you who have read about my battle(s) with my bulge(s) may have assumed that this article would be about my weight again – Maybe you felt that this article is about how some hapless airline accidentally gave me a window seat, and how that toppled the flight’s balance and set it on a loop of barrel rolls that ended with projectile vomit on passengers. But you’re wrong. Incredibly enough, this article has nothing to do with my weight.
Instead, I’m going to use this space to complain about luggage limits. And no, I am not complaining about flights having limits. Not at all. I understand that passengers would always try to get make the best value out of whatever they pay for. If airlines didn’t enforce limits on luggage, people would try to sneak in cargo boxes, furniture and close relatives just to see what they could get away with.
So having luggage limits is fine, as long as they’re clear about it. Passengers plan out their packing with the limit in mind, and it would be completely irresponsible for an airline to remain vague about their luggage policies. My sordid tale of the week involves such an irresponsible act from a popular airline.
Before you ask, let me just state outright that I will NOT be revealing the name of the airline in question. I have strict orders from my doctor to not risk that – it turns out I suffer from an acute allergy to corporate lawsuits. My skin gets itchy.
The airline being discussed, which I will refer to as ABD Airlines, is not a new entity. I have flown with them several times before, and haven’t crashed or caught on fire even once. Emboldened by this reassuring fact, I went ahead and booked my ticket with them. Flights from UAE to India almost always allows a check-in luggage limit of 30 kgs (~66 pounds); a limit so consistent that I took it for granted. I didn’t notice until I took the printout of my confirmed ticket that this time, it was reduced to just 20 kgs (~44 pounds. God, just get with the metric system already).
I instantly felt shortchanged. I called up their offices both in UAE as well as India to complain, and that’s where things got complicated. The Indian office told me to chill; that my luggage limit was actually 30 kgs, despite what was printed on the ticket. But the UAE office insisted that the figure on the ticket was the final word on the matter. Between the two offices, there was a difference in opinion of 10 kgs, leaving me a frustrated, confused guy.
Note that I didn’t really have 30 kgs of actual luggage to carry. No. I only had around 7-10 kgs of actual stuff to pack; But 30 kgs was the benchmark for ages – it was what I was owed, and anything less simply felt like being cheated over. In righteous anger, I bitched and moaned as I filled up on 20 kgs of stuff I didn’t really need.
I was in a dilemma. I pictured two scenarios.
A. I valiantly take 30 kilos on my trip, but get confronted at the check-in counter. After a short argument, they ask me to either discard 10 kilos of materials or pay a ridiculously inflated rate for it. This infuriates me so much that I slap the officer in charge with a potted cactus plant and get thrown in jail for assault.
B. I just stick with the 20 kilos I’ve packed. I casually stroll to the check-in counter sipping coffee and whistling softly about the joy of traveling with less luggage. I face no problems at all at the counter, except maybe a weird look on account of my whistling. But then, I notice that other passengers are weighing in their luggage at 30 kilos per head. This reminds me that I am not making optimal use of my allotted space – With a jolt, I realize that I could have packed 50% more crap than I did. This jolt snaps my delicate balance of sanity, and I hurl my cup of hot coffee on the officer in charge and tear off a fistful of hair from the security guard sent to take me down, directly leading to a stint in the joint.
As you may have noticed, Neither of my scenarios have pleasant outcomes. They both end with me in jail, which makes it incredibly hard for me to fly home. So I ignored both scenarios and instead, chose the answer between A & B.
In this scenario, I’d retain the 20 kilos of luggage I packed, but also carry an additional 10 kilos of cheap stuff I can afford to discard if truly forced to. Fruits like apples would fit the bill. But if I board the plane with 10 kilos of plain apples just to pick a middle ground, people would call me insane. “What’s so special about apples that you had to lug that around for 2000 miles?”, they’d ask. So I opted against carrying plain apples. Instead, I went with green apples.
Under the Green Apple Strategy, if they allowed me to board with the total 30 kilos, I’d be happy to have optimally utilized my allowance, and just gift green apples to anyone who asked “Hey, what did you get for me?”. It has the added advantage of lowering expectations for future gifts.
Alternatively, if they put their foot down on the 20 kilos rule, and they ask an exorbitant rate for my excess luggage, I would just discard the apples. It’s an unfortunate waste, but hey, they’re just apples; they’ll get over it.
On the plus side, I wouldn’t have to hunt around for things to discreetly throw at the officers. 10 kgs of green apples provide plenty of ammunition.