Jun 072010
 

AAScrewedMeCheck baggage: $25

Flight Confirmation: $50

Parking: $3

Having a personal website to share my experiences: Priceless

I’m big into saving money on flights. My first stop for ticketing is ALWAYS Southwest Airlines (SWA). After that, I head to Expedia to see what other deals might be available. As of yet, Expedia has not been able to beat out SWA. Only thing, SWA doesn’t offer flights to EVERYWHERE. I haven’t booked flights to those other places, so it’s yet to apply to me.

Anyway. My mother booked tickets for my daughter to visit her father’s parents. She used Expedia, which doesn’t offer SWA flights. I wish I had known she was going the Expedia way, cause I would have encouraged her to Just Say No. Not that I have anything against Expedia service, but SWA is so much cheaper. Then again, who am I to look a gift horse in the mouth. I wasn’t paying for the tickets, so how can I complain about where she chooses to spend her money. So Mom booked the flight on American Airlines (AA).

THE REENACTMENT:

My daughter and I arrived at the airport 48 minutes before her flight according to my parking stub. We parked then headed to the terminal. Where the heck was the ticket counter for AA? I found out from the information booth it was in the other terminal, so off we went.

If you’ve been to the airport in the last several years or so, you’ll notice check-in Kiosks are pretty popular. SWA has the kiosk at the ticket counter, and the airline personnel helps you through the process if you needed. AA has the kiosk about 10 yards away from the ticket counter, so there is no help.

I checked out the kiosk and couldn’t find the appropriate numbers on my email printout to input. I pushed a few buttons to try to do a look up or something. After a few minutes I just gave up and headed to the counter. I handed the email to the lady and told her I couldn’t figure out the kiosk.

Lady looked at my daughter’s suitcase. “Just checking one bag?”

I hated checking anything. But I knew my daughter’s suitcase was a mammoth. Still, it couldn’t hurt to ask. “Does she have to check it?”

“Yeah.”

“I guess just one then.”

“That’ll be $25.”

Twenty-five dollars? Okay, this was a new concept for me. Like I said, I book SWA. The first two bags are free. I pulled out my plastic money and handed it to her. “I guess that’s why Southwest advertises free baggage; everyone else charges, I guess. Good thing I brought my card.”

Seriously, it was a good thing. I had $1 for parking, my license, a book, truck keys, and my plastic money. Anything else is just asking for trouble at the airport.

The check in gal clacked away at her keyboard. “Since you’re checking a bag, she won’t be able to get on this flight. We require 30 minutes prior check in. It looks like you’re at 29.”

Are you kidding me? We missed check-in by 1 minute? What the hell? I looked at my daughter’s bag and considered the cost of shipping it to her…thought about how sad she’ll be to not have any clothes. I thought about the two minutes I’d spent at the kiosk.

“We can put her on standby for free or confirm her flight for $50.” By then, the lady’s voice was getting on my damned nerves.

“How does standby work?”

“Well she waits at the terminal, and if a seat opens she gets to fly.”

“So you’re telling me when she gets to Chicago, she could get stranded?” My daughter is 17. (Please don’t do the math on my age. Like I said, my umpteeth 26th birthday is coming up, and I’m sticking with it.)

“Well, she’ll have to wait for the next flight until she gets one.”

I thought about my daughter in the airport for days waiting for an open seat. Uhm…can we say hell no? I’ll never book a flight through you. “I’ll have to remember this. Go ahead and confirm it.”

In the end, $1 wasn’t enough for parking since I ended up staying at the airport for 3 hours ($1/hour).

If my mother had booked through SWA, it wouldn’t have gone down like that.

  1. No fees for the first two bags. Savings: $25
  2. Would have let my daughter take her bag to the gate.
  3. If her bag were too big, they would have check it at the gate.
  4. The 30 minute rule wouldn’t have applied, and she would have made her flight. Savings: $50
  5. I would have been in and out of the airport in an hour if she’d made her original flight. Savings $2

Total savings if we’d been with SWA $77.

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