Re: Kiss my ass, United Airlines

1

40 is outrageous already.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:01 PM
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You should have flown Southwest; bags fly free. Don't you watch TV, heebie?


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:02 PM
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I would have much prefered to fly Southwest.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:04 PM
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Seriously. I was already in a state of perpetual outrage over checked-baggage charges, especially in light of all the bullshit TSA restrictions on unchecked baggage. Pigfuckers, all of them.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:04 PM
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I'm kind of hoping that United PR people will find this post, but there are probably millions of these posts out there.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:08 PM
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Pulling out the duffel bag at the counter would make a nice companion to this story.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:09 PM
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Great idea. Do it.


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:13 PM
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United is qualitatively worse than the other major US Airlines, which are already unbelievably awful. After being burned time and time again by United(including an incident when they unilaterally canceled a flight, not for weather reasons, and refused to either rebook or refund until I made an unholy fuss). I will go fairly far out of my way to avoid United.

(that said, I think the horrible policy Heebie refers to in the OP is now pretty standard)


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:15 PM
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On the topic, there was an article yesterday or day before in the Wall Street Journal (I know, I know - I get it free, for frequent flyer miles that were about to expire in fact) about increased baggage theft. Handlers and TSA people going into bags and stealing whatever they can and people at airports who steal entire bags off the luggage carousel. I mean geez, how much can you figure to make on the latter? It's like sticking up newspaper delivery boys in the hopes that you get one who really is just using the newspaper delivery to make collections on his dope delivery route.


Posted by: Middle Aged Man | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:22 PM
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(that said, I think the horrible policy Heebie refers to in the OP is now pretty standard)

The $125 overweight charge? I mean, I certainly should have looked it up online ahead of time, but I just assumed it would be a little more than checking a second bag.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:26 PM
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I know, I know - I get it free

Except for its execrable editorial page, the WSJ is a good paper.


Posted by: Not Prince Hamlet | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:27 PM
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The last time I looked, the scam was to put on an additional fee for both oversized and overweight bags -- so they hit you once for oversize, and once for overweight, and it usually is a lot more than a checked bag fee. $125 doesn't sound way out of line for a really big bag, though I haven't checked.

God I hate the airlines.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:32 PM
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The problem with the duffel bag plan is that its message never reaches the higher ups who conceived of the policy and insteads dumps it on a counter rep who probably hates that policy at least as much as heebie does.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:34 PM
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$125 doesn't sound way out of line for a really big bag, though I haven't checked.

It's this bag. It's big, but not abnormally big, and pretty reasonable for a family? To cram all our stuff in one suitcase?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:37 PM
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Right, so anyway, the rule is, when flying United, use as many under-50-lb. bags as you need, as this will save you money.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:41 PM
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OK, I just wasted some time comparing American and United's policy on this. AA would have charged you $50, not $125. I can't believe I ever even suggested that United was not a uniquely horrible company, because it really truly is.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:43 PM
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14: I have a bag that's roughly those dimensions and it seems more or less normal for a large bag. A bit larger than the large of the two-bag carry-on + checked combos I've seen, but not by too much. I've never filled it with that much weight (up to about 45 lbs); must be the difference in packing density.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:46 PM
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Right, so anyway, the rule is, when flying United, don't fly United.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:46 PM
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United, worst of the worst

I realize I'm somewhat obsessive on this point.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:46 PM
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The first rule of flight club is that you don't fly United.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:48 PM
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There should be airline company exchanges available online, where people can compare and contrast policies. These would include customer satisfaction ratings. This would address the issue so that all persons who can afford to fly in the first place can be equally assured of the best possible product.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:48 PM
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Halford speaks the truth. See also.


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:48 PM
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A few decades ago I met my now-partner at the airport when she returned from helping her parents pack up their belongings and move to Florida.
"Why is this bag so heavy?" I asked.
"I didn't want to give up the big old cast iron frying pan", she said. She was returning from Nairobi with a big bag stuffed with books and a cast iron frying pan. Those were the good old days.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:49 PM
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If I wanted to fly Southwest, I'd have to drive to Spokane first. Not the end of the earth, by any means, but almost enough to make it worth flying United. (Except I fly Delta/NW instead . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:55 PM
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I only charge people $25 per extra bag when I pick them up from airports. Practically a bargain. I take cash or bottles of whiskey.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:56 PM
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I hate United, too..

Charging for overweight bags does make sense (not $125 sense, but sense) though, from the perspective of the baggage handler.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:57 PM
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23: Heh. I actually packed a pineapple in my bag at one point -- for a flight, that is. That wouldn't have been a major weight issue, exactly, but it apparently didn't occasion a word amongst the baggage x-ray staff. On the other hand, a friend a couple of years ago was all psyched that he'd managed to smuggle a soymilk onto the plane with him.

Times change. It apparently costs money now, sometimes a lot, to check over 50 lbs. of luggage. I realize it's totally AWFUL.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 5:57 PM
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25 -- Yeah but how much for an overweight?


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:01 PM
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28: no charge but you have to hold the bag on your lap.


Posted by: Cecily | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:07 PM
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Aggh, I'm getting so worked up that I need to tell the full story in 8, because it will blow your mind.

I had a case where my client and United were co-defendants (like, if we lost our case, United was potentially in some serious trouble). There was a deposition that I was designated to take, and I booked a flight on United to get there. Thirty minutes before scheduled departure, United cancels the flight, for no obvious reason or weather delay. They then refuse to refund the ticket or put me on any flight that leaves within 24 hours, even though there were multiple United flights that same day would get me on time to the deposition -- oh, did I mention that I'm going on this goddamn business trip in the first place in order to HELP UNITED???

I had to call the lawyer I knew who represented United in the case, who called some low level person at their general counsel's office, who called someone at the airport, who called the ticket agent, which was finally enough to get myself rebooked on another flight so I could get there on time. Unreal.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:08 PM
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Spokane first. Not the end of the earth

There was a college basketball announcer and former coach who was fond of describing Pullman as "not the edge of the world, but you can see it from there."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:16 PM
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$125 doesn't sound massively out of line to me. I've been charged Eu90 for a single (admittedly heavy) box of newspapers I had to take to a conference. A relative of mine was just this last week threatened with a $900 (nine hundred dollars) charge for having 20 kilos too much. We decided to FedEx the stuff instead for a third of the price.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:17 PM
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Overweight luggage, like open lands, are an American tradition. See Frederick Jackson Turner's "The Significance of Frontier Airlines in American History."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:21 PM
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We decided to FedEx the stuff instead for a third of the price.

That's always been my thought if you're trying to bring along stuff on a flight that could just as readily be shipped independently.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:21 PM
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Overweight luggage, like open lands, are an American tradition.

Absofuckinglutely. If this is not an issue people can get behind, I don't know what is.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:25 PM
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Times change. It apparently costs money now, sometimes a lot, to check over 50 lbs. of luggage. I realize it's totally AWFUL.

Are you calling heebie's luggage fat?


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 6:55 PM
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$125 doesn't sound massively out of line to me.

As a surcharge? When the initial charge for up to 50 lbs is $20, it makes sense to tack on a 600% surcharge for going 15 lbs over?

I think you'll find it does sound massively out of line.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:07 PM
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I'm going to be contrarian and say that baggage fees totally make sense. Charge like FedEx does, by the pound. Fuel is a huge portion of the airline's costs, and baggage weight has a direct impact on the marginal expense of operating a flight. Not charging for luggage doesn't make flights cheaper, it just requires light packers (like me) to subsidize our nation's anvil salesmen.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:25 PM
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My BF flew to Ottawa for a weekend (to do immigration stuff), and United -- which was just okay -- charged $320 via Dulles. A direct flight from Boston on a Dash 8 Turbo prop was going for $1200. Everybody else was charging around $900. The company was paying for it, but the value of the ticket was taxable.


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:37 PM
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I'm going to be contrarian and say that baggage fees totally make sense.

Nevertheless, that doesn't really address the surcharge aspect of this bullshit. They are clearly taking advantage of the fact that they've got you over a barrell by the time you actually show up for the flight with your luggage.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:51 PM
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38: The point, though, of limiting the weight of an individual bag isn't fuel margins -- the Geebie family luggage adds the same weight to the plane whether it's in one bag or two. But when you are grabbing bags off the conveyor belt and throwing them into the cargo section in the belly of the plane, an especially heavy bag increases the risk of injury.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:54 PM
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Charge like FedEx does, by the pound.

In fact, if they were charging by the pound, that would have been much better. Sure, we had 64 lbs, but it was split across 2 1/2 people, so we'd be paying a reasonable amount.

What is totally aggravating is that two people are allowed fifty pounds each, but if they share a suitcase and it weighs 64 pounds, you get charged 6x extra.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:54 PM
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But when you are grabbing bags off the conveyor belt and throwing them into the cargo section in the belly of the plane, an especially heavy bag increases the risk of injury.

I hadn't considered that as the motivation. So I guess they do prefer you to use two half-weight bags.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:55 PM
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They are clearly taking advantage of the fact that they've got you over a barrell by the time you actually show up for the flight with your luggage.

I assumed they're trying to discourage people from packing really heavy bags, though if they're not all hat up front about the charge maybe that's not the case.

To sum up, let's get some high-speed rail here.


Posted by: Matt F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 7:58 PM
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44: Then why jump from $20 to $125+20? Why not make the original price steeper? (Or charge by the pound, like you suggest.

The jump in price is what I consider to be just out to screw people who have no option by the time they realize what's going on.

Unless there's truly a safety consideration, like Di suggests. But if it's just fuel costs, then they are just charging me a fuckton because they can.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 8:33 PM
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41: My horrible neighbor is a United luggage handler. Go ahead: injure him! Check an engine block on your next United flight to Boston. Or a small black hole.


Posted by: mcmc | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 8:36 PM
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From time to time I am obliged to share with this forum the uncomfortable truth that United Airlines (or Delta, or American, it's all the same story) does not give a rat's ass about heebie or any of the rest of you, provided you fly fewer than five round trips per year. Especially if your one or two flights per annum are around peak holiday travel times.

You are a marginal revenue steam to be turned on or off at will. Heebie's lifetime customer value to United is optimized by raping her for $120 today (pure profit, to a first approximation) than by any brand loyalty and future passenger revenues that might be engendered by treating her more decently.

These numbers are a bit out of date, but 7% of UA passengers contribute over 40% of the passenger revenues and an even higher share of operating profit. If you're not one of them, United scoffs at your blog posts / complaint letters / youtube videos.

Sorry, but that's the way it is. Trust me, I've heard it from the horse's mouth.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:03 PM
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32: that was probably the old IATA excess baggage formula: 1% of the published first class fare per kilo. Still applies in many parts of the world (though not in the US, where IATA tariff-setting procedures are demmed -- with some justice -- a flagrant antitrust violation).


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:16 PM
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FedEx charges somewhere between 50 and 100 dollars to ship a 65 lb bag.

It makes perfect sense to charge both by weight and size, but it would be a lot more tolerable if they were consistent about it.

Interestingly, based on a average person's weight of 150 lbs plus a 50 lb bag and the standard FedEx cross-country shipping rates, I'm calculating that a cross-country flight only costs about twice as much as packing yourself and bag in a shipping crate. That's closer than I would have predicted.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:30 PM
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49: unless you're dead. On a pound for pound basis, human remains are by far the most profitable passengers. And they don't complain much, either.

When UA launched TED, the original concept called for no cargo in the hold (the better to optimize turn times). But it turns out that return flights between Florida and the cold weather states are quite an important market for the human remains segment.

If you think I'm making this up, I assure you I'm not.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:38 PM
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Actually, it's not even twice. Cross country rates appear to be about $1.50 a pound, so shipping yourself would cost $300. That's not that different than a LA to NY flight. I suppose one difference is that FedEx would drop you off at your house, though.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:40 PM
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Huh. I would have guessed that corpses would travel FedEx, not United. Are you saying that you buy a regular ticket for a corpse?


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:42 PM
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Yeah, and they arrest you when you arrive.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:43 PM
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49: I can also assure you that, for the purpose of calculating weight and balance on US commercial aircraft, your estimate of 150 pounds average passenger weight is *way* low. And even the numbers the airlines in fact use are known to be low compared to actuals. Especially in the southeast.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:43 PM
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53 to 51.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:44 PM
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47 -- fortunately, UAL has done such a kick-ass job of catering to that 7 percent of frequent fliers that it's a super profitable and successful company. Ignoring most customers is clearly the way to run a great airline, as Southwest proves


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:44 PM
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Are you saying that you buy a regular ticket for a corpse?

Human remains move as cargo. They require special handling, and they don't pack efficiently into a standard LD-3 container, so they are quite expensive by cargo standards.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:48 PM
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I did exactly this with my bags at Schipool (?), but without intention or spite. My FIL makes fun of us for taking a giant bag to Europe, but it's so much better than dealing with multiple bags, esp. when we're staying multiple places.

Anyway.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:52 PM
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53: Or you get robbed.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:52 PM
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At least if you die abroad, your insurance might pay for repatriation. Or so I understood from the fine print the few times I had travel insurance. I guess you can get a policy for within the US too.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:57 PM
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56: that the Southwest model works for Southwest does not mean it would work for a mainline carrier with a different operating model and cost structure. The majors have been wrestling with this dilemma for 20 years. UA has twice attempted to play Southwest's game (most recently with Ted), and its not clear they can ever make it work. By contrast, the "compete like hell for frequent fliers and fuck everyone else" model has been shown to work, and work quite well, at least when the economy is booming.


Posted by: KR | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 9:58 PM
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@54

I thought of that and figure I'd do my standard deal with estimating weights: always underestimate. But a little research reveals that the average American weight is now about 180 lbs.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:05 PM
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59: Or you get killed.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:05 PM
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Schiphol, JRoth.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:06 PM
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BTW, KR, thanks for the fascinating insight into the airline industry. In hindsight, it's no surprise, but it's still interesting. It also makes frequent flyer programs make so much more sense. It's as much to recognize their important clients as to reward loyalty.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:08 PM
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61 -- which is why UAL should never have been allowed into Chapter 11, and certainly never out of it.

I don't claim any great insight into the business of airlines, but it's pretty clear that we're talking about a company that's been a pretty consistent failure, even among the arguably consistent failure of every major US airline postderegulation. Put it out of its misery and let the Southwests bloom.


Posted by: robert halford | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:14 PM
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@66

This seems wrong (at the risk of sounding totally naive myself). Southwest thrives by choosing low-cost airports and routes and attracting customers who don't care how long it takes to get there (most routes are multi-stop). So when United disappears, which Southwest analog takes over? They can't make money poaching cheap routes or attracting cheap customers.


Talking further ex recto, this seems like it was the reason that the airline industry was strongly government controlled and why deregulation has been disastrous. There was a good reason for larger companies so you don't have to deal with 20 different Southwests just to get where you're going.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:23 PM
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Human remains move as cargo. They require special handling, and they don't pack efficiently into a standard LD-3 container, so they are quite expensive by cargo standards.

The cardinal rule of packing for travel is to take only what you really need.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 10:35 PM
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This seems like an appropriate thread in which to report that my insane overnight-train-then-cross-country-flight travel plan worked like a charm. Main drawback: the layover in Las Vegas.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:29 PM
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Las Vegas, New Mexico? That's a strangely small place to be routed through.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:34 PM
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No, that would have been fine. Las Vegas, Nevada.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:43 PM
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I don't think eb's question was in earnest.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:44 PM
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I don't think so either.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:46 PM
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Anyway, the reason Las Vegas NM would have been fine is that it's in between Philadelphia and Albuquerque, whereas Las Vegas NV is not, and a layover there meant adding three hours to the trip which I'm now thinking probably wasn't worth however much I saved on the ticket versus a more reasonable route.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:48 PM
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I miss the days when one could take eb's words at face value.


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:49 PM
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All of my comments are lies.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:51 PM
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I should go to bed. I haven't slept in kind of a long time.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-18-09 11:52 PM
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Maybe this thread is a good place to mention I'm in the market for another pseud. Either that, or I stop commenting here. Nothing's happened with this pseud (like being outed or whatever), but I want one just for here.


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 12:02 AM
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Earnest Bureaucrat?


Posted by: Otto von Bisquick | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 12:05 AM
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Ebullient? Ebenezer? Just go straight to Scrooge? Ebony, or for more obfuscation, Teak? Or Mahogany?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:41 AM
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Ebullient? Ebenezer? Just go straight to Scrooge? Ebony, or for more obfuscation, Teak? Or Mahogany?


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:41 AM
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"Matt Weiner".


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:49 AM
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E.F.Benson


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:51 AM
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Elderberry?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:10 AM
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Eety-beety?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:10 AM
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Ebb?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:11 AM
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and attracting customers who don't care how long it takes to get there (most routes are multi-stop).

Any background to this statement? It's not my experience.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:12 AM
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Earbud!


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:12 AM
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Eggbug.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:13 AM
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I'd love a commenter to use the handle Cousin Balky.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:17 AM
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Ergastic Bechamel.

Damn, that is a lot of goddamn snow.

max
['Why is that shit so much heavier than (green) leaves?']


Posted by: max | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:22 AM
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Need a Cousin Larry, too.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:46 AM
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83: Looove! But really, his hot, gay Omen-esque Colin and Colin II must be read.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 7:59 AM
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Eebie.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 8:00 AM
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"Wry Cooter" is still available.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:38 AM
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||

As I have said before, I do not consider Rauchway a fair or honest historian.

I think you can make an excellent case that FDR was an incrementalist in 1933, and after. Relief came in gradually--the FERA was small, the CWA was brief, and the WPA didn't come until 1935. Social Security covered only a portion of the workforce.
...ER

Emergency Banking Act of 1933

Read the provisions:

"Title I, Section 4. To make it illegal for a bank to do business during a national emergency (per section 2) without the approval of the President."

and think about Obama's response to Banking. Even if FDR did not fully implement or use the act, the threat itself was very far from "incrementalist". And this was only a part of the "100 days."

Rauchway is a disingenuous hack.

PS:Seven more banks closed last night. The list of endangered banks is still growing, not shrinking. Calculated Risk links on request.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 10:17 AM
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I kind of like the Balky idea, but not the Cousin part. Although it's been years since I watched Perfect Strangers. Maybe I should go with something like "Fake Accent."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 11:42 AM
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As a surcharge? When the initial charge for up to 50 lbs is $20, it makes sense to tack on a 600% surcharge for going 15 lbs over?

I think you'll find it does sound massively out of line.

I meant compared to other airlines. Also the initial charge is a bit of a red herring, I think. You're not paying for the weight. You're paying for the check-in staff and infrastructure. And, last time I flew anyway, it's not something we pay for separately in the UK, except on Ryanair.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 12:50 PM
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re: 98

Wizz charge, too.* There's a measily standard luggage allowance and then they charge on top of that. To be fair, it's not a huge amount of money if you pay the fee at booking time. 20 quid or something, for two of us. Which I didn't really grudge paying as they'd saved us hundreds of quid over flying BA. I gather the luggage fee is pretty swingeing if you don't sort it in advance, though.

* who seem to be a Ryanair clone. No booked seats, charging for food, etc. except the planes are nicer and they don't seem to openly despise their customers as much. My experience flying with them was decent enough that I just booked again.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 1:02 PM
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Unless there are objections, I think I will go with "Fake Accent." It's better than "Fake Glasses and Nose."


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 1:36 PM
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76, 79: Epimenides, bitches.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 1:47 PM
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100: Not that anyone has a right to object to another's pseudonym (except in certain circumstances), but be aware that "Fake Accent" will cause me, at least, to read all of your comments as though delivered in a fake Canadian accent. This may entail all of the silly and none of the charm. Just so you know. You may wind up wearing a plaid cap with fur-lined ear flaps.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 2:27 PM
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Even better, eh?


Posted by: eb | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 2:38 PM
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Pretty much. Fake Eh.

I've actually been trying to remember the names or identities of those two guys who did the side-by-side comedy skits, seated and talking to the camera, as a couple of stereotypical Canadians a few years back. One wore one of those caps, I think. There was a lot of "eh" thrown in, and a lot of cheap beer drunk.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 2:48 PM
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104: Bob and Doug McKenzie. And "a few years back" s/b "almost 30 years ago".


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 2:59 PM
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104, 105: Take off, eh? 24 years ago a couple of years ago. (I think they did actually start in 1980.)


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 3:06 PM
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105: Yes, thanks! And yeah, I figured it was more than a few years back. That must be my catch-all time frame at this point. I see it happening more and more often; my book partner and I not infrequently refer to this or that and gesture generally, like, "Oh, maybe 5 years ago? Probably more like 10. But wait, maybe it was, well, I don't know, maybe 12 or 7, whenever, but you know what I mean."

Sure.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 3:28 PM
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United wants you to pack two smaller bags instead of one larger bag. Less chance of a baggage handler throwing out his back lifting it, less chance of breaking a conveyor belt, easier to pack on the airplane with all the other bags. I'm pretty sure there's a hard OSHA limit in there somewhere that requires a two-person lift.

They could tell people not to pack heavy bags, but it's much more effective to say "we'd rather you not, but if you want to pay us $120 for the privilege, I guess we'll let you."

Not that United aren't a bunch of bastards, but some sense of where they're coming from can make it easier to avoid the worst of the annoyance.


Posted by: water moccasin | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 3:30 PM
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@87

"Southwest's successful business model involves flying multiple short, quick trips into the secondary (more efficient and less costly) airports of major markets, and using only one aircraft type, the Boeing 737."

I suppose this doesn't automatically mean more multi-stop routes, but it seems like it should. More importantly, that's been my personal experience. I think it really depends on whether you're near a hub, but that's really true of most airlines.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 4:49 PM
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I have a bag that is a hybrid trolley/rucksack and is guaranteed to fit through the ICAO-standard cabin baggage cage when full. I've been asked to prove this once (by Easyjet staff at Barcelona), which left me with the biggest shit-eating grin evar. With careful planning, I did the week in Orlando without checking anything in - I only took one suit, but I've taken two to 3GSM before.

(Full of what, you ask - well, they don't weigh the cabin bag and I've been working out a lot. Who doesn't travel with gold bars? Ask Bob! Pro tip: the overhead locker is certified to 50Kgs. Reject the Anglo-Fed Brusselscrip!)

Really bad airline experiences:

Ryanair - I wouldn't buy from them because they're union-bashers, who charge job applicants to have their CVs seen and sometimes repeat the charges later, whose heavily publicised Irishness involves being based in Ireland because the Irish regs about flight-time limitations are less stringent than any others in the EU because they asked/paid for them to be like that, and whose pilot cadet scheme involves borrowing the money yourself and doing line training on their revenue flights for no salary. But IBM's London PR booked me on one of theirs to Montpellier. Nobody spoke English or French and I'd bet good money nobody spoke Irish, and the aircraft was one of their new 737-8s with the hard purple plastic seats. Not again, and I wouldn't pay them for reasons above.

Singapore Airlines: Everyone loves them. So do I - sort of .They did leave us in a non-airconditioned gate room for 5 hours with orange juice and a letter from ground ops on a night SIN-LHR though.

Alitalia: So the robot check-in was showing a BSOD as you tried to get in at 0600 at LHR. Well, you'd better wait until I can call Rome. The office opens at 1015. Perhaps your travel agent could help. Apparently some people still have them.

Iberia: Nothing specific, just every 3GSM trip is horrible - packed, pricey, filthy, pay for coffee, general sense of being an enemy. I suspect it's probably not their fault - just the 50,000 mobile phone engineers trying to get to or from LHR/CDG/FRA at once and so few of them wanting to take a lucrative IB long haul to South America.

BA: Come to think of it, they've never done anything to piss me off. Also Easyjet, Austrian Airlines, KLM, Virgin, Emirates, Qantas, Air New Zealand. I do have a dispute with KLM but it's entirely my fault.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 4:57 PM
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We flew Southwest for the first time recently. On both legs, the flight attendant personally told my wife that in the event the cabin depressurizes she should put her mask on before she hooked-up our son. When I flew Southwest with my son but not my wife, I got no such personal instruction. Does Southwest think women are slow or that men are just really unlikely to think of their offspring first?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:00 PM
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111: In my mid-20s I was constantly (ok, fine, it happened like 5x) being asked by airlines to sit with children traveling unaccompanied. I always said yes, fine, sure, and various funny stories came out of it, but, theoretically, it always kinda rankled that they were using youngish women for babysitting.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:12 PM
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Always.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:12 PM
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111: In a depressurisation accident, the crucial thing is your effective time of consciousness - if you're aware of the situation, you need to don the mask NOW. Otherwise you'll be useless to anyone. You probably won't have enough TOC to sort anyone else out and then do yours. But it takes a while to do permanent harm.

European airlines always brief everybody to "Put on your mask first, and then help others". Note the imperative in both clauses; but either way you won't be in a position to do so if you don't don yours first.

The whole thing suggests Southwest F/As are competent in just the way I didn't think Ryanair were.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:39 PM
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112: Facial tattoos would stop that, probably.

114: They always tell everybody that in the pre-flight announcement. I'm just wondering why they would specifically tell my wife and not specifically tell me when I was without her.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:43 PM
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I suspect it's an easy way to scan the cabin. No doubt someone should go for extra diversity training (and it may be me), and alter the SOP. After all, the passenger manifest should show everyone ticketed as a child.

(Apparently, both Boeing and Airbus have inhouse start-up airline consultancy shops, for obvious reasons, so if you really want to maximise the ideological entropy of Unfogged there's your chance!)


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:52 PM
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111. Iirc, married women on the Mayflower died in that first winter at a higher rate than married or unmarried men, or children.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 5:54 PM
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117: In the event the Massachusetts experiences depressurization or a shortage of food and heat, please feed yourself before feeding your wife.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 6:02 PM
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Alitalia has the starring role in this well-written tale of airline horror by wingnut journalist Michael J. Totten.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 8:24 PM
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As a former luggage handler (not United), I have a hard time believing that their main concern with overweight bags are the handlers' backs. But I also want to note that KR is right about the human remains-- "HR's" they were called-- and they're way, way heavier than any bag, no matter how huge and overpacked. The measures which might be taken to ensure baggage handler safety in this circumstance, I leave to your imagination.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 8:48 PM
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Thanks, b.v. All you people upthread talking about how reasonable this is, and how much concern for the baggage handlers' poor back United is showing: you are all being silly. This is charging your customers out the wazoo because they can.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 8:55 PM
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Concern for baggage handler's safety is reasonable, even if it's not a concern that motivates United. United sucks. I've flown them, and I've known people who've worked for them. They suck. They're gouging on the charge for overweight baggage, absolutely. But that doesn't mean it's unreasonable to limit baggage weight.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:05 PM
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I don't know from United, but at least on Southwest if a bag is heavy but not over 50 lbs they put an extra tag on it indicating its weight.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:06 PM
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how much concern for the baggage handlers' poor back United is showing: you are all being silly
You're the soul of compassion.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:14 PM
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Which isn't to say that This is charging your customers out the wazoo because they can. isn't true too, but christ.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:15 PM
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124, 125: I'm pretty sure heebie is not saying that concern for baggage handlers is silly, but rather that it's silly to believe the airlines are motivated by concern for baggage handlers when they add these new customer charges.

I hate everything about flying now. I especially hate the faux-security measures, but the new baggage charges also irk me.


Posted by: Mary Catherine | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:28 PM
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To be fair, that was long ago, and they may since then have decided that trying to keep baggage weight down really is a goal; I couldn't say. And not to dismiss lighter luggage in general as a good thing from a worker standpoint.

But my point was, to truly show compassion, you should really be in favor of dividing HRs into two much lighter halves.


Posted by: briefly visible | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:29 PM
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@124

Agreed. From someone as gracious and smart as heebie is, that made me cringe.

Even though it's probably true.


Posted by: F | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 9:39 PM
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Of course they're not motivated by concern for baggage handlers. That doesn't mean you can't be. They are soulless corporations motivated by concern for the many profit-damaging lawsuits they will face after they cripple their staff. No-fault accident compensation is the only thing that saved Air New Zealand from the wrong end of one of those from my father.

There is really no way that the attitude concern for the baggage handlers' poor back conveys is anything but disgusting when the alternative is "or I will have to take ten minutes to pack two bags instead of one". How much of your time is (someone else's, of course) permanent disability worth to you?


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-19-09 10:26 PM
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Fuck Lot Airlines, fuck Heathrow. That is all.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 3:35 AM
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Well, wait. I do in fact think that United wants you to pack more, smaller bags out of concern for the baggage handlers' backs. Not because of their profound sympathy for the worker, but rather because injured baggage handlers cost them money and because there are almost certainly regulations (from unions? OSHA?) that insist on special handling of really heavy or outsized baggage (line stopping, multiple people, etc.).


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 6:38 AM
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And per the last sentence of the OP, that really wouldn't be any sort of a GOTCHA! to the airlines, since they almost always suggest this very thing if you are checking an overweight bag. I once had the counterperson give me a paper shopping bag into which I could shift a whole bunch of books from the bag I wanted to check.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 6:42 AM
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We at United Airlines would like to remind passengers that attachment to material possessions is the root of most human misery.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 7:33 AM
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Air Canada dropped its baggage charges, but they've now reinstated them for 2nd bags:

Air Canada's new policy on U.S. transborder routes compares favourably with major U.S. carriers that charge for checking in both a first and second bag.

In other words, we're just as assholish as they are now!


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 8:26 AM
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14

Evidently you didn't read the reviews:

... finally plan to pay overwieght fees to the airline unless ur flying first class - I didnt even have it nearly packed full and it weighed over 60 pounds - next time I am going with a smaller bag.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 9:30 AM
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But when you are grabbing bags off the conveyor belt and throwing them into the cargo section in the belly of the plane, an especially heavy bag increases the risk of injury.

It's sweet that you believe that concern for the baggage handlers is what drives the airlines' policies.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 10:05 AM
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Multiply pwned above.


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 10:16 AM
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Unless there are objections, I think I will go with "Fake Accent."

Not that I feel I really have the right to object, but I always prefer new pseuds that reference the earlier pseud in some way as it helps me connect the new identity to earlier comments. (I thank emdash and curse k-sky in this regard. I mean that with love, of course, k-sky.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 10:18 AM
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Of course they're not motivated by concern for baggage handlers. That doesn't mean you can't be. ... How much of your time is (someone else's, of course) permanent disability worth to you?

Someone else's permanent disability is not worth $125 to me. I'm willing to pay $20 or $30 to keep someone else from suffering an extremely painful injury, but not over $35. Maybe $37.50.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 12:34 PM
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It's sweet that you believe that concern for the baggage handlers is what drives the airlines' policies.

No, as Oudemia suggested above, I think concern for the baggage handlers probably motivates the union and OSHA to demand certain limits on baggage weight. I think not being fined or whatever for violating OSHA and not being sued or whatever by the Union and not paying workers' comp when a handler gets injured encourages the airlines to take appropriate measures to "encourage" passengers to limit baggage weight. I think United then thought "Cha-ching!" and gouges people at the airport who are stuck with an overweight bag. but yes, I do think the weight limits originate with the baggage handlers.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 12:44 PM
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I think United then thought "Cha-ching!" and gouges people at the airport who are stuck with an overweight bag. but yes, I do think the weight limits originate with the baggage handlers.

Agreed. (I didn't mean to sound snotty above, BTW. That was written before I had delicious French toast to cure my morning grumpiness.)


Posted by: Sir Kraab | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 1:11 PM
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139: You'd really need to give me the probability of permanent disability before I could give you an answer. If it was 5 or 6 percent, I might go as high as $57.34.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 2:50 PM
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142 was me.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 2:53 PM
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Someone else's permanent disability is not worth $125 to me.
But you could repack your bags differently. They really do prefer you to have multiple smaller bags, and it is for that reason. I can believe that they're gouging once they reach the point of charging for it, but I also wouldn't be surprised if they'd had roughly commensurate actuarial estimates of what it was going to cost them (and then doubled them, because hell, why not?).

Also, uh, sorry for being a bit harsh there. I guess it hit a nerve.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 3:41 PM
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It generally hits a nerve when someone from a country where labor unions hold some sort of power over corporations acts as if labor unions hold any power in the United States. It seems like you're gloating.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 3:54 PM
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I guess United must be more lenient towards international travellers. I've gotten away with overweight baggage with them twice.

When I flew from O'Hare to Singapore, I had an oversized bag that contained a bicycle padded with a lot of clothing. It was also well over the weight limit, and bicycles are supposed to incur an additional $70 charge or something. I was charged nothing.

I recently moved back to the US from Singapore, and one of my suitcases was 8kg over the weight limit. Again, I wasn't charged anything.


Posted by: Ponder Stibbons | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 3:58 PM
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I think you overestimate the power of our unions. I also don't think I mentioned unions, so maybe you weren't talking to me, but oudemia and Di are the only others who did and they're not from anywhere weird.

I do think United's unions have more sway over the airline than the EPMU does over Air New Zealand. They were responding to OSH and ACC demands when they changed their practices, not the union. In a more litigous society United would be responding to the enormous lawsuits from their injured workers.


Posted by: wispa | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 4:07 PM
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I think United then thought "Cha-ching!" and gouges people at the airport who are stuck with an overweight bag.

Nonsense. You probably don't see the rationale for the new landing fees, either. Those are imposed at the discretion of the flight crew, and are collected in cash as the plane approaches the destination. They buy one the privilege of remaining on the plane until the plane is has landed, rather than deplaning as soon as the plane is near the destination city. These fees are a way of keeping flight crew salaries within bounds by giving the crew an alternate source of revenue.


Posted by: Michael H Schneider | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 4:21 PM
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In a more litigous society United would be responding to the enormous lawsuits from their injured workers.

Here, workers injured on the job generally can't sue their employer for it. Workers Compensation statutes provide the exclusive* remedy. The "downside" of that (for the worker) is that Workers Comp awards are typically much lower than tort awards. The upside is that the worker gets the award without having to prove anyone behaved negligently.

* This is certainly the case in Illinois, and it's my understanding that it works the same in all 50 states, but I'm willing to stand corrected.


Posted by: Di Kotimy | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 4:25 PM
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149

Here, workers injured on the job generally can't sue their employer for it. Workers Compensation statutes provide the exclusive* remedy. ...

Workers can still sue third parties.


Posted by: James B. Shearer | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 9:48 PM
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(a) Illinois and New Jersey are both weird.

(b) Baggage fees don't apply to frequent flyers with status, or first class passengers. This from Delta: Medallion members traveling in the economy cabin will be permitted two bags free of charge up to 70 lbs. for each bag. All passengers traveling in First/Business Class cabin will still be allowed to check up to three bags up to 70 lbs. at no additional charge United is gouging, pure and simple.

(c) Depending on what is happening when the bags aren't on the plane, there can be a huge difference between having one big bag and two medium bags. Wrangling two bags on the stairs at many London underground stations; wrangling bags, a baby, and baby paraphenalia; etc.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 10:17 PM
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(On United, I see, it depends on your status: silver gets 50 lbs, gold 70 lbs. Yeah, that's about the handlers . . .)


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 12-20-09 10:23 PM
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Nobody spoke English or French and I'd bet good money nobody spoke Irish
You'd win. I know exactly one Irish speaker who can't speak English, and she's a little old lady of nearly 80. Even then she's unusual for her generation (as opposed to the previous one).


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 9:05 AM
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Spot my deliberate mistake.


Posted by: emir | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 9:07 AM
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re: 153

Same in Scotland, of course. I don't know if there are many monolingual Gaelic speakers left. Wiki certainly indicates that there aren't any, and haven't been for at least a couple of censuses.


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 9:10 AM
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I'm a monolingual English speaker. I tried Spanish for several years, but it was too easy to rhyme things, so I quit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 9:13 AM
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I tried to learn Scots, but it was too easy to rhyme things, with every word-ending vowel turned to "ae".


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 9:17 AM
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re: 157

Makars wha' hae wi' vowils ae
fundit easy fir tae rhyme awae


Posted by: nattarGcM ttaM | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 10:05 AM
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http://news.cheapflights.co.uk/2009/12/baggage-handlers-urge-passengers-to-pack-lighter.html


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 12-21-09 10:43 AM
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