Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Cheap Flights, Pack Light

I learned some valuable lessons this afternoon. There’s a reason those intra-Europe flights are so cheap. I thought I had it all figured out, I packed all my weighty stuff in my carry-on, wore my heaviest pair of boots and jacket, all with the expectation to smooth through the check-in. I even asked my pal John for his opinion on the weight of my bag back in Notting Hill before leaving. We both agreed, it was close to the 15 kilo limit, but still below.

When I checked my bag at the Ryanair check-in and it weighed 22 kilos, a full 7 kilos over the allotted limit, I was a tad surprised to say the least. Instead of paying $85 just for the privilege of checking in my bag, I proceeded to get rid of as much stuff as I could. Boxer shorts, an old pair of running shoes, socks, penned-up journal articles (I made sure to keep track of those I discarded), a couple tees and a sweater, an old bag, it all ended up in a pile along with other traveler gear. I swear, if you’re ever at Gatwick, come with empty bags, there’s bound to be a bunch of cool gear for the taking.

After my fourth attempt at bringing my weight down, I thought it might be kind to give the ticket agent a small gift. I presented her with a bar of soap my Mom made, and sure enough, she ignored the fact that I was nearly 2 kilos over weight, or the equivalent of $25. Lesson one: Ryanair is serious about their weight limitations, but the ticket agent does have some wiggle room.

Lesson two was a lot less eventful. The friendly voice that chimes in over the intercom at Gatwick every five minutes “There is a one bag limit on carry-on baggage. A woman’s handbag counts towards this limit” is also very serious. I thought I’d chance bringing my camera and my computer bags, but of course, I was nabbed at the security gate, where an army of fluorescent-dressed folks look you up and down to decide whether you have one bag or more. Somehow I managed to fit my camera bag into my computer bag, but not before I took out my laptop, which if carried on its own, doesn’t count as a bag. Where can I read the rulebook for all of this? It really is quite fascinating, if not a bit annoying.

Here I am now sitting at Gate 10 of Gatwick waiting for my flight to Dublin. Lots of suits, it must be a right fashionable flight with the business class. I’d really like to play guitar with my friends right now, right here, and just liven the place up a bit.

There’s the chime, the race has now begun. I guess if you purchase a pre-board, you get to go on first. There doesn’t seem to be any assigned seats. I’m just going to wait until the end to get on, I hate these seat battles, people jockeying for position is just so ‘high school’. But I guess we never really grow up, do we? Some of us just wear suits and ties, carry briefcases and walk with purpose.