It’s not like I didn’t know I’d have to pay for my luggage. Any time you have to sit on your suitcase to shut it, you know you have a problem. The luggage allowance for this flight was 20kgs (44lbs). Considering I was moving countries, my load was always bound to go over that.
When I put my first suitcase on the scale, it was 31kgs (68lbs). The check in guy looked at me over his half glasses and raised an eyebrow. My second case was 30kgs. So, I was 40 kilos over.
“That’ll be quite expensive,” says the bright spark behind the counter.
“Yeah? How much?” I say.
“Well, it’s $20 per kilo, so….$800.”
“Well, I don’t have that and I need to get my cases home, so I guess we’re gonna have to do something about that.”
At this point, the $800 didn’t even phase me. I was totally confident that I would be able to barter with them like I was in some North African country. In my mind, by the end of it, I’d have talked them down to $40 and have a free camel ride to the boarding lounge thrown in.
I was directed to the manager. I don’t know her name, but let’s call her Hilda. Hilda made it clear from the get go that she had no time for my flighty dreams of taking all my belongings home with me.
“Listen,” I say. “I don’t have $800 and I’m moving back to England, so I have no choice but to take all this home with me.”
“Well, you should have thought of that before you came here. You can’t take it on the plane, so do you have someone who can come and pick it up for you? You’ll have to get it shipped back.”
Hmm, Hilda seemed immune to my charms.
“You don’t understand,” I say. “I did think about it before I came here. I thought about it endlessly. Three quarters of my belongings are sitting in a good will shop downtown somewhere. The rest of it has been shipped. What remains in these here suitcases is basically the sum total of my life. None of it is expendable. These are the bare essentials. All that remain. They’re coming with me.”
She glared at me. This, I imagined, was not how bartering goes down in North Africa.
“I don’t mind paying something, but $800 is daylight robbery.”
“Well how much would you like to pay?” Hilda asked. Great, now we’re getting somewhere.
“I have $85 in my purse. Have at it.”
Hilda laughed in the face of my $85 and explained, at length, why that wouldn’t be happening. “Why should you be the exception?” She asked.
“Let’s do a poll of everyone on this flight,” I suggest. “I will put money (all $85 of it) on me being the only one moving countries. That’s why I should be the exception.”
This was greeted with Hilda revisiting her earlier points, this time adding a raised voice and a pointed finger.
“Fine. If weight is such an issue on flights, how come overweight people don’t have to pay more for their ticket than me?” I asked. Hilda seemed stumped by that one. It’s a valid point, if you think about it. People with the correct height to weight ratio have been getting skanked by airlines for years!
By now, it was clear that whatever argument I threw at Hilda would not stick. She told me they only took credit cards. Awesome, I had just paid mine off and cut it up. I’d have to call my parents. Oh, but Hilda won’t let me use the phone and they won’t take foreign credit cards. “Well, you’ve got to throw me a bone here Hilda, Jesus!” I say, completely exasperated. The best she could do was get me to reverse the charges on the pay phone.
It finally got sorted and I arrived back in England with both my cases and an $800 debt to pay to my father. Good times.