Man’s Response To $1,400 Overweight Baggage Fee Prompts Police Action

overweight fees
U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nathan Lockwood (This isn’t the luggage in question, but you get the idea)

Police in New York and Seattle were called in to investigate when a man ditched his luggage in order to avoid overweight baggage fees, NBC reports.

The unidentified traveler was going to take Delta Air Lines Flight 1452 from Seattle to JFK when he was told his baggage was overweight and he would have to pay $1,400 in fees. The man decided that whatever he was lugging across the continent wasn’t worth that much money and left it behind. When the abandoned bags were spotted it sparked a security alert and the check-in area was closed for two hours.

The passenger, blissfully unaware, flew to JFK only to find police waiting for him. He was questioned and released after police decided that he hadn’t intended on causing a panic.

It’s unclear how many bags this guy had or where he was going, but a look at Delta’s overweight fees show that he was probably carrying his prize antique brick collection to display at the London Brick Fair this summer. No, that doesn’t really exist.

Worried about getting slapped with extra fees? Check out our guide to packing your luggage efficiently. Or you can simply wear 70 items of clothing to avoid overweight baggage fees.

New Airline Ratings Resource: It’s All About You, Eventually

airline ratings
Chris Owen

Pretend you had never been a passenger on one of today’s commercial airlines, but had the need to choose one. How would you do that? Look for airlines with a good safety record? One that is rated highly on service, a low cost leader or some other criteria that is important to you? A new, free airline rating service promises to cover all that and more.

Launched this week, AirlineRatings is poised to offer an in-depth, educated look at airlines from a number of perspectives. Developed by Australian Geoffrey Thomas and staffed by aviation editors, AirlineRatings has a comprehensive list of over 400 airlines, rated several ways.

In addition to forensic safety ratings based on the last two years of incidents, AirlineRatings sources actual passenger experience in a TripAdvisor sort of way, gathering reviews from its members. Like top-ten lists? AirlineRatings has top-ten lists for Travel Apps and Airports that are not really anything to get excited about. But they also have interesting top tens for long-haul economy-class cabins, premium economy, long-haul business-class cabins and first-class cabins, noting the best of each. Those alone are worth a click or two.

One really usable feature is AirlineRatings’ Aircraft reference, offering photos, history, manufacturing and construction details, passenger features and safety ratings. A “Future of the aircraft” feature taps the opinions of AirlineRatings’ experienced editors (AvGeeks), like this:

“To remain competitive with a new generation of jetliners, Airbus is developing the A320NEO (New Engine Option). Using latest-technology engines in the 30,000-lb.-thrust class, the NEO promises an estimated 15 per cent reduction in fuel consumption, with 20 per cent lower maintenance costs, significant numbers in today’s highly competitive airline market.”

One hot feature that could bring some interesting reads is their Make A Difference page, that is collecting our suggestions, recommendations and/or comments on how to improve the global airline industry.Coming up, AirlineRatings will have a source for airline food reviews, which could be interesting as time goes on. Like other crowd sourced info sites and apps, right off the starting line AirlineRatings is in need of the crowd. Good things are possible here though; we’ll check in with them again in a few months to see how this promising site is working out.

Here’s more:


American Airlines To Cram More Seats Onto Aircraft

legroom plane
big-ashb, Flickr

As if squeezing into an economy-class seat wasn’t already a claustrophobe’s nightmare, American Airlines has announced plans to add even more seats to its planes, further encroaching on passenger legroom.

The carrier, which is trying to raise revenue following its merger with US Airways, will increase the number of economy class seats on its 737s and MD-80 fleet. The news came out after the airline’s VP of flight services made an announcement to the carrier’s flight attendants.

American Airlines says it doesn’t know exactly how many extra seats it will add, but airline consultant Michael Boyd told CNN that for the plan to be cost-effective, the airline would have to install at least 10 new seats in each aircraft. Adding what amounts to roughly two extra rows would mean taking 2.5 inches of legroom from each of the existing rows of seats.Freaking out yet? Well Boyd said passengers shouldn’t be too concerned at this stage. A slimmer seat design, along with changes to the bathroom and galley layout could save precious space. All up, he believes we might be left with about one inch less legroom once the new seats are installed. Still, it’s one inch too much for passengers who are already feeling the pinch.

American’s New Boarding Process Could Probably Maybe Not Speed Up Boarding

Fly For Fun, Flickr

Airlines are constantly experimenting with new, more efficient ways to board airplanes. A faster turnaround time on the ground means more on-time flights, which translates to better revenue for the carrier. So anything that they can do to speed up the process is in their best interest. Oh – and if it makes the process easier for the passengers then that’s a decent side benefit as well.

Back in March, our friend Johnny Jet was the first to report on a new strategy that American Airlines was testing to hasten the whole boarding process. Coming soon, passengers without overhead bags will be allowed to board the plane prior to other (but after preferred) passengers. With no bags, they can quickly disburse onto the plane and into their seats without clogging the aisle. The next batch of passengers with bags will hopefully then be less hindered when loading.

The policy is being widely implemented and reported right now. How much will it speed up the process? American claims that this will save about two minutes a flight, though that average is spread across thousands of flights in which millions of permutations of boarding issues (full overhead bins, surly passengers, surly crew) can occur. Given the wide statistical nature of the process, passengers probably register much of a difference in timing.

What they will notice is a slight modification to the boarding zones, though this change still wont relieve the gate lice congestion. If American could come up with a solution for that problem, we’d be impressed.

Flying With Rude Passengers: Survey Asks What Would You Do

rude passengersSay you’re on a plane, sitting in a middle seat, and the rude passengers on both sides of you are in command of the arm wrests. Do you say something? Ask a flight attendant to help? Say nothing and live with it? Or are you just not sure? If you are like a lot of people, you say nothing according to a fifth annual nationwide survey that asked Americans how they would handle uncomfortable but common air travel situations.

Nearly half those surveyed (48.9%) would say nothing to their arm-wrest hogging neighbors with about a quarter saying they would stand up for the space they paid for either by saying something to their overflowing seatmate (27.9%) or asking a flight attendant (2.7%) for help. The remaining 20.6 % were just not sure about it.Think that person in front of you who reclines to the point that you cannot open a laptop is a problem? You are not alone. A full 75% would either say something to that passenger or call a flight attendant for help, while 7.7% were just not sure about it. In fact, a number of survey respondents were “just not sure” about most situations. It is no surprise then when asked what to do when seated next to a non-stop talker, 89.6% of those surveyed would read a book, put on headphones, pretend to sleep or just give in and talk throughout the flight rather than say something to them directly about talking (10.4%).

The survey, conducted by the Travel Leaders Group from March 15 to April 8, 2013, measured responses from 1,788 air travelers on a number of very specific circumstances involving rude passengers.

“As their travel agent experts, we hear directly from our clients who share similar complaints regarding their experiences. In our survey, we wanted to know how many travelers proactively take some sort of action to resolve those situations,” stated Travel Leaders Group CEO Barry Liben.

The survey also asked about screaming children on a plane (not popular), which got the highest response from respondents saying it was a matter that flight attendants should take care of.

What do you think?

[Photo credit – Flickr user by mralan]