Those Darn Airlines (Again) - Grampies Cross Europe Germany to Spain Fall 2023 - CycleBlaze

August 21, 2023

Those Darn Airlines (Again)

The most stressful part of any bike tour for us is finding the flights to take us to the start and end points. The underlying reason is the longstanding refusal of airlines to just charge a fair price, based on the cost in equipment, fuel, and staff of moving us the requested distance. OK, ok,  if you think of the flight as the passengers chipping in to get the plane to go, and if the seats of a flight are only, for example, 80% filled, then each flyer might have to pay 20% more. But even then, surely, an airline could use its average load factor to set a single, simple fare for the flights of a given route. But no, it's more than that, much more, as they attempt to game the customers so as to extract every last penny that anyone is in any sense willing to pay until the plane is in the air. (And of course, even in the air, they will attempt to sell sandwiches, internet, and duty free.)

The situation is so extreme, that I always begin by specifying one passenger when researching prices. The reason is that the airlines will charge double in the blink of an eye, and I am never quite sure if they are talking two passengers, or just trying to rip me off.

All this is very well known, and in fact I have a rant about it at the beginning of most blogs. Now for this blog's rant, I have a very slight twist. I have often quipped that if they could, the airlines would offer the choice of having a seat or just standing, or of having a place inside the plane, or on the wing. If not these things, then what else could they price? This time around, we found out what - booking a flight on Condor from Vancouver into their main hub at Frankfurt. 

We know that airlines have charged for checked luggage, since approximately 2007, beginning then with a $15 fee. Their bean counters have been busy, not only increasing the fee, but making a distinction between first, second, and third bags. But this time we found that Condor will charge to have a carry on bag over your head. And better (for them), they will also charge for a reservation of the space over your head! But that's not all, today I am ranting over their specifications for the "personal item", between your feet.  No, not that one! here we are talking about your purse or backpack. Condor's specification for this is not simply that it fits under the seat ahead, but it must be smaller than 40x30x10 cm.  10 cm? that's 3.9 inches. That's only a little more than a typical cell phone is wide. We really could not believe that they could be serious about this, so we phoned. At least they did not charge for the call, but they assured us they mean it, and will enforce it. Clearly the idea is to force your phone, your meds, and your laptop out from under the seat and into the paid space over your head. 

In our case, there is no dimension for our handlebar bags anywhere like 4 inches, and these are our personal items, normally. So Condor collected 60 euros, each, to put these in the overhead bin!

Since we did not want to pay the checked baggage fee as well, Dodie worked hard to fit all our stuff into the carry on, while puzzling about what our personal items could be. This actually involved an inordinate number of evenings packing and re-packing, plus trips to Walmart to see if they had anything that would be like 40x30x10 for a "personal item". Of course they did not. But then we remembered two tiny souvenir backpacks we had from the Camino. Perfect!

Tiny backpacks, with the stuff we plan to put in each, for under the seats.
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All this crying about airline games is nothing new, as I mentioned above. But even 45 years ago, it could be the source of some humor. Have a look at this Carol Burnett skit. It has a bit too much slapstick, but all air travellers will appreciate it even today.

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Patrick O'HaraLove the Carol Burnett skit. When is your departure date?
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10 months ago
Steve Miller/GrampiesTo Patrick O'HaraWe are now leaving August 27, arriving in Europe on the 28th.
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10 months ago
Kelly IniguezChecking airfares is my new favorite hobby. The unpredictability is great entertainment. We haven't narrowed down next summer at all, other than to say we want to see different countries. At this moment, Jacinto is looking at one way tickets - the better to cross more countries. He has found a one way from Denver to Barcelona for $535.

Here's the amusing part - a one way ticket from Grand Junction to Denver is $204. We know we need to get back home, so let's make that a round trip. A RT ticket is $1,257.! That makes no sense at all.

We were most pleased with American Airlines luggage policy this summer - everything flew for free. I have since read that if you have an economy ticket, you have to pay for luggage. Indeed, they do squeeze every dime out of you.

A friend recently traveling with a CPAP machine said that medical devices are required to go for free, and go with you in the cabin.

I look forward to traveling with you!
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9 months ago
Robyn RichardsLoved the skit too - very prescient!
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9 months ago
Patrick O'HaraTo Steve Miller/GrampiesHope you have a smooth travel day. Looking forward to following along.
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9 months ago