Packing for the Plane

Apr 16, 2010

It’s been a couple of weeks since I put up a story-of-sorts on my blog. My excuse?? Hmm . . . I went on vacation!

But, I’m back! Unfortunately, I wasn’t on vacation for the entire week and a half, but once I came back to my family, there was ‘catching up to do’ (you moms understand) and I am now trying to “catch up” on my blog!

Let’s start with where I went - Washington, DC! I had a fabulous time and I didn’t visit a single monument or museum! (Unless, of course, you count Banana Republic, Filene’s Basement and H&M as national landmarks . . . which, of course, to some they are!)

No, I went to visit my best friend, Shanika, for some much-needed “girl time.”

Before I go into details, I want to explain that I have two best friends – and I don’t want either to feel “cheated” when I refer to the other with that “title.” The two women are as different as they come (and I plan on writing a whole blog post on that, some day), but equally the most incredible friends anyone could ever ask for.

On this trip, I went to see Shanika – my single, best friend who lives in a gorgeous condo in the heart of DC. Her house is child-free and as quiet and clean as can be. I tell everyone that it’s like “going to a spa” when I make my once-a-year trek to visit her. I look forward to it all 12 months of the year and am saddened when it ends and I have to wait another 12 to go back!

We spent the whole 5 days of my visit shopping, going out to eat, watching movies and . . . my favorite part . . . sleeping . . .uninterrupted. . . all night long!!!! (and, for a few naps, too!)

The time there was just perfect. I don’t have a single complaint.

Okay, maybe just one.

A itsy-bitsy teeny-weeny complaint.

What was it?


Now, I only fly two or three times a year. I admit. That’s not much. Ever since I had kids, my airplane time has been cut dramatically. I just can’t bear the thought of being cooped up in a cylinder space with three kids and dirty looks flying my way faster than the plane is traveling.

I haven’t been on an airplane since last summer – and I was shocked at the changes.

I have long legs – very, very long legs – and usually request extra leg room. Well, it seems that the airlines now have something against tall people because extra leg room seats cost $25 more – each way!

I am always thrilled when I get on a flight with a movie – and I make sure to hang onto my $3 headsets from flight to flight so that I don’t have to buy another one each time I fly. As it turns out, though, that $3 was the least of my worries. Continental has now installed small TV monitors on each individual seat. Sounds great, right? Sure. But you have to swipe your credit card on the side of it (and be charged $6) if you want to watch the flick!

Want to eat? Better bring your own snack. Though, I flew before the deadline (and I always do pack my own food), Continental is going to start charging for meals and snacks, too.

And then there’s the most irritating. I thought it was bad last July when they charged me $15 to check my first bag. But now, Continental is up to $25 for the first bag. That’s $50 round trip! $50!!!!! If my ticket cost $300, that’s a “hidden cost increase” of 17%! If my husband and I took our family of five on a vacation, and we each checked one bag, we’d have to pay an additional $250. We might as well have brought another whole child instead!!!

Some airline called Spirit (never heard of them and certainly never plan on flying them after this) is going to start charging $45 per carry-on bag! Are they NUTS?? EVERYONE needs at least one bag, so your choices are to check it for $25 and risk them losing it or carry it on and pay $45? What about parents with kids who need to pack snacks and DVDs and toys to keep their child entertained? They don’t have the choice of checking their bag for a cheaper rate.

Next thing you know, they’ll be charging a fee if your child cries on a flight. You just wait. It’ll happen. And then, after that, they’re going to charge you for the oxygen you inhale, too.

Anyway, it was this “bag” dilemma that had me (and all my Facebook friends, whom I hounded the week prior to my trip) confused about what to do. The first issue arose because I have a Continental MasterCard and the primary cardholder can check their first bag for free. The problem? My husband is the primary. But, he hates to fly and will never use this “perk” and so I was hoping I might be able to take advantage of it. After all, I write the check for the credit card bill each month – I should get the free bag, right? I read that you can show your card and get the fee waived at the gate. But, what if they decided I wasn’t “worthy” of this fee waiver? Though I wanted to check my bag (for free) because I could bring a bigger bag with me that way, I also couldn’t risk bringing one I couldn’t carry on with me. So, I still had to pack lightly. And, of course, I couldn’t have any liquid, gel or cream with more than 3 oz. Oh, the stress!

And then I realized, I planned on going shopping on my trip . . . and I mean, I was going to do some serious shopping. This is my one time – pretty much my one and only time – all year long where I shop for clothes for myself. I needed room in my suitcase to bring home all that I planned to buy!

So, I packed as lightly as I could and decided to just carry the bag on with me instead of risking having to pay the $50 in baggage fees. I prayed that I had enough extra room for all I planned to buy.

I tried to not think too much about my bag situation while I was in D.C., and apparently I was quite successful at this because, when it came time to repack my suitcase for the flight home, it was obvious I would not be able to fit everything in my bag.

What to do? What to do?

When Shanika would say to me, during my visit, “How are you going to get all this stuff home?” I’d say, in the words of Project Runway’s Tim Gunn – I’ll “make it work.”

And, I did make it work . . .

I packed my suitcase as tightly and neatly as possible. I crammed everything I could possibly into that little bag, making sure it didn’t bulge so much that it wouldn’t fit in the overhead bin.

But, I still had a great number of clothing items left. For a moment I wasn’t sure what I was going to do about them. And then, a great idea hit me!

I would WEAR the clothes!

All of them.

One on top of the other.

When I got dressed that morning, I was wearing a tank top, 3 shirts, a sweater , a jacket and a winter coat.

I asked Shanika how I looked.

She stared at me and said, seriously, “Like a homeless person.”

I looked at myself in the mirror and I just had to laugh.  She was right. That was exactly what I looked like.

But, what other choice did I have?

Fortunately, it wasn’t so hot in D.C. to cause me to die of heat stroke on the way to the airport. I boarded my flight and stripped off as much as I could once I was seated, using the extra tops as a back pillow (which, I’m pretty sure they now also charge you for!). When it was time to land, I “redressed” myself, sweating as I came into the hot Austin sun.

The airlines have found a way to mess with us. They’ve found a way (many, many ways) to make extra money off of the average traveler.

They wanted me to pay for my extra clothes (which, trust me, had already cost me a small fortune when I bought them in D.C.)

They said I couldn’t pack them.

So, I didn’t.

I wore them.

They never said I couldn’t do that.

(At least, not yet.)


Anonymous said...

You are so clever! Did your friend take a picture of you? Hilarious!

Rose said...

Not just hilarious, but so creative, Kelly! You crack me up!

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