Showing posts with label airline flight luggage. Show all posts
Showing posts with label airline flight luggage. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Airline profits are in the bag (1 kg=40 AUD $) ugh....

Airline profits are in the bag |
They've tried to hide as much as they can under baggy clothing, but that's not enough.

We all know the scales never lie, and their luggage is four kilos over. They protest with all their might, but in the end they know someone's going to have to pay.

In their case it was about $160, according to the staff at the airline check-in desk at Brisbane International Airport.

I was at the neighbouring check-in desk and my big journalist ears were flapping as I leaned over ever so slightly to hear more of their heated conversation with the airline staff.

I'd just put an elderly passenger's suitcase on the scales. He was two kilos over and was now in danger of being stung as well.
Related Sections

* Travel Advice
* Travel Homepage

Related Coverage

* Best and worst airport, 5 Mar 2008
* Casing out your ideal, 24 Jun 2008
* High cost of, 24 Mar 2008
* Airline staff 'abused, spat on', 10 Oct 2007
* Best airfares in the, 25 Oct 2007


The couple next door were clearly not happy as they were told that all discretionary excess baggage allowance had been cancelled.

It's just four kilos, they continued to protest. But the young passengers were told the increasing cost of fuel the world over was making it more important that airlines account for every kilo. They could either pay up, or lighten their load.

It seems airline travel is getting harder by the day.

Long gone are the days when you could front up to the check-in desk with only minutes to spare before your flight, dragging a badly packed case that only King Kong could lift.

It's not enough that the accidentally packed nail file or scissors in your hand luggage can single you out as a terror suspect. Or a 600ml bottle of over-priced tap water can be confiscated by security who then frisk you for other threatening fluids.

Now airlines are taking a swipe at your weight; or at least the weight of your baggage.

Of course, excess baggage always has attracted extra costs, although in most cases the application of those costs was discretionary – very discretionary – and you were usually safe so long as you weren't packing too much.

Overseas trips, especially to colder countries, do require plenty of warm, often heavy, clothing, and then there are all the bottles of fluid and pointy objects banished from your hand luggage. It soon adds up.

Now, four kilos overweight for a couple appeared to fall into the non-discretionary category – which meant my single passenger friend was at risk.

At the check-in desk I turned away from the row next door, smiled at our attendant and tried to draw her gaze away from the digital indicator on the desk that now read 21.8kg.

Would being 200 grams shy of two kilos make the difference?

I'd already tried to win her over by pretending the suitcase that I was carrying was lightweight as I placed it on her scales, my own smile ignoring the pain of tearing muscles in my right shoulder (give me a break, my heaviest work tools are a pen, notebook and mobile phone).

"That's fine, enjoy your flight," she said.

We'd made it with some discretion.

I smiled some more as we shuffled away from earshot of anyone on the check-in desks before I revealed the fate of the neighbouring passengers who were now trying to lighten their suitcases by putting on even more of their clothing.

I'm also wondering why this makes a difference to the airline. Surely the excess baggage is still boarding the aircraft, albeit by a different route.

There's no doubt the airline industry is feeling the pain of rising fuel costs like the rest of us.

The International Air Transport Association says the price of aviation fuel has almost doubled since a year ago, with fuel accounting for about a third of operating costs.

Reports say some airlines are looking to shed weight by opting for lighter cutlery (more bendy plastic knives and forks), taking less potable water for loos and wash basins (imagine the smell) and fewer in-flight magazines (no one reads them anyway).

The fluid police have been doing their bit to reduce weight on flights for some time.

I was on one international flight returning to Australia where the aircraft passed through Sydney Airport before heading to Brisbane.

In Sydney we were all asked to leave the plane with all our belongings, only to reboard about an hour later.

After passing yet another security check, any passenger who'd already bought any duty-free fluid in a bottle larger than 100ml had it taken away before they could reboard the flight.

It's hard to argue with security staff, who can threaten imprisonment, so all you can do is watch as bottle after bottle of alcohol and perfume go in a bin destined for destruction.

Do the airlines really want us to travel? It makes you wonder.

Unions are worried that their staff will cop more abuse from passengers as any increase in fares and restrictions, such as excess baggage charges, lead to "air rage".

How long before airlines start to nudge the seats even closer together just to squeeze in an extra row or two?

It won't be long before live animal export carriers start to look like a preferred option for travel overseas.

It also makes you wonder, though, if airlines are using fuel prices as an excuse to cash in on the excess baggage, especially since the charges seem to vary so much.

Air New Zealand charges $10 a kilo for any excess over 20 kilos, Singapore Airlines charges up to $40 a kilo, Qantas up to $48 a kilo while Emirates slugs you up to a whopping $87 a kilo.

Sure, rising fuel costs are putting pressure on airlines.

So shouldn't the airline industry be doing all it can to encourage us to fly more, rather than deter us?

My advice when next travelling by air is to ditch your suitcase and wear as much of your clothing as you can, and carry anything else as hand luggage.

Then you can roll up to the check-in desk free from worry about any excess baggage charges. That is until the airlines start to impose an excess dimensions charge.

Now there's an idea.
Technorati Tags: , , , ,