Overweight

me and bags

So I’m gearing up to leave LA, currently sitting down to a much needed rock’n’roll bottle of water. Making my army backpack look light and swinging it onto your back as though it’s as light as a feather isn’t so easy when it weighs around 20kg!

Needless to say that relief moment of dropping your bags at the check in isn’t such a relief in my case! In the states it means one thing: no more luggage trolleys.

On the subject of luggage trolleys, or “carts” as they say here – why is it that the US seems to be the only country in the world that charges you to rent one? I’ve never known an airport to charge you $6 to move your stuff around.

When I was in New York, I tried to take a photo of the cart payment machine and a SmartCart lady ran up to me and told me it was “against the law”. I couldn’t resist and said “what, charging people for luggage carts?” “No, taking a picture of them, you’ll get arrested”, she replied. I forget about the failure of sarcasm when I’m in the States and it catches me out every time.

I am always amazed when people say “you can’t take pictures because you’ll get arrested” to me as it’s just the most ridiculous argument based on flawed logic. It seems to fall into that category of scare tactics propagated by anyone that wears any semblance of uniform – even a SmartCart uniform. All it makes me want to do is take a slew of pictures and see what happens. If I wasn’t on such a time sensitive mission I’d probably be inclined to push it.

I would love someone to attempt to arrest me for taking pictures of a pricelist and some glinting steel. I wonder how it harms anyone at all, or why someone would even bother wasting their breath telling me off… and the only conclusion I can come to is that they know it’s a rip off and they don’t want anyone to know how much of one… Incidentally I did take the picture, and I’ll post it when I can dredge it off my phone, if for no other reason than an act of protest!

Where were we before my little tangent? Ah yes, luggage. I got lucky again today as it happens. I think check in desks are a little like calling the tax office – sometimes you get a nice accommodating person at the desk, and if you don’t, best to make an excuse, come back and try another person.

My first hiccup of the day arrived when I was told Air Tahiti Nui wouldn’t carry more than 32 kg. So since my 3 wheeled suitcases now weighed 33, 33, and 34 kilos respectively (and there was definitely no space in my hand luggage!), I had to buy another roller bag at airport prices taking my bag count to 4, and repack. I was allowed 2 bags, so removed the excess to take the first two down to 23kg which classes them as normal weight bags, and then got the last one of the three in at 32kg, meaning my new one was at 23.

I was trying to be tactical, bags 3 and 4 increase in price rapidly, and the excess weight fee is huge on additional bags, so it makes a difference which bags you put through first. If you put your heavy bag in as part of your baggage allowance, you pay an excess fee, but it’s lower than if your excess weight bag is an additional bag. So I was all geared up to be sneaky.

But then I had the nicest man who gave me a wink and whispered “don’t worry about it”. He knew how to bend the rules and waived my excess fees and very kindly put bag my heavy bag down as “dive equipment” which is a little loophole with Air Tahiti that everyone should remember if you’re carrying a lot of stuff. There’s no media rate but there is free dive equipment and it can be overweight! He actually tried to put my two extra bags in as dive equipment and did so, but when I got to the gate, they called me up for “a message” and told me I could only put one through as dive equipment, and I had to pay for one after all, but as it only counted as a regular bag and as only one bag over, I got away with a mere $75 charge!

It’s turning into a new kind of sport, this baggage fee evasion. Though I think for it to become a real sport I need to come up with a better name. Answers on a postcard….

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I should also mention, that the one great thing about carrying an army backpack is all the “Thank you for your service” comments you get which tickle me greatly, but also seem to give me a special pass into the inner sanctum of the nation and the special treatment that affords. I’m not usually one to take advantage, but when you’re my stature and carrying the baggage weight that I am, then you need all the help you can get!

In other non-news, LA was uneventful.

I got in, checked into the Embassy Suites (a bizarre place but they had a good offer on – I think the interior was meant to resemble a Spanish courtyard?) near the airport with the grand plan of staying there and taking a cab somewhere and going for food or a drink.

But by the time I got settled and showered and dressed, I decided it would be a bit boring on my own, and it was a long way into civilization and an expensive cab journey for what might turn out to be a flop. So instead I took advantage of the “Manager’s reception” and had a couple of G’n’T’s, before an ever-so-thrillng burger (seemingly the only offering in the hotel’s “restaurant”), and had a little wander around before catching up with some admin and making use of the internet while I could. I’m beginning to wonder how I did anything before I had the internet. I have no idea what the internet situation will be in Tahiti because I’m staying in someone’s unused apartment for most of the time so we’ll see.

Once this LA-Tahiti fight is out of the way though I’ll feel really, really, really on my way. I’ll be among the people that the mutineers fell for, and the home of the breadfruit that set their course to start with. I’m looking forward to the heat, the ocean, and the luscious mountainous landscape. I’m a little fed up of looking at highways, so it’ll make for a refreshing change!

My flight is boarding now – so I’ll see you in Tahiti!

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