Busted For Oversized Baggage!by david daly on 11/30/11
Monday night on my way home from Miami to LGA I did something that I had been able to avoid for 31 years- I PAID to check a bag. Of course I did not intend to pay to check a bag. I had flown Continental down to Florida and with my newly refreshed elite status (see Mileage Run) and my Continental Mastercard (see Credit Card Miles) I could check a bag for me and almost everyone in coach for free. On the way home, I had to fly American Airlines because of a significant price difference. On AA, I lack any preferential treatment and have to resort to my usual tricks to avoid bag fees. So, I zipped up my rollerboard suitcase to shrink it down to its smallest size, put all of my lotions and potions in a clear ziplock bag for security screening, checked in online and headed right for security. I knew my 24 inch rollerboard was 2 inches longer than AA permits as a carry on (though welcomed with open arms on Jetblue), but by the time they caught me at the gate- if they caught me- I would just be asked to gate check the bag which has always been free for me in the past. WRONG.
As I wheeled my ever-so-slighty oversized carry-on up to security, I was greeted by a militia of AA employees pretending to check boarding passes. But, they were really checking carry-on sizes! My inconspicuous Tumi was suddenly surrounded by security forces and identified as TOO BIG! I begged and pleaded, but to no avail. They didn’t even offer to have me place my bag in the carry-on box to publicly demonstrate that I was in clear violation- they just somehow knew and had sniffed me out!
No problem, I thought. There are 3 different security lines at Miami International for AA flights and they all connect past security, so I pretended to head off to pay a baggage fee but really to attempt to break through a weaker boundary. NOPE. At both of the other security gates I was immediately singled out for oversized baggage as if I had been branded with a giant scarlet O on my shirt.
Defeated and with my tail between my legs, I headed back to the check-in desk and begrudgingly handed over $25 to check my nearly empty suitcase. I was in such a huff that I forgot to transfer my toiletries back into my checked bag so I didnt even get to avoid the humiliation of displaying my zit cream in the security screening tray.
I should give credit to AA for being so on top of policing their customers. But in actuality it has just made me resent the airline even more than I already had. AA has routinely proven itself to be my least favorite US airline, and now I just have another reason to avoid them as best I can. I may have snuck a quick smirk when the CNN Breaking news text showed up on my phone indicating that they had filed for chapter 11 yesterday. Guess my $25 wasnt enough.