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September 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 26, No. 9   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Want Lower Baggage Fees? Book Through a U.S. Dive Travel Agency

from the September, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

After reading our May article "Beating Baggage Fees for Dive Gear," reader David Dornbusch (Oakland, CA) was inspired to share his recent story about trying to lower baggage fees for a dive trip to Papua New Guinea. He booked the trip through the Australian agency Diversion Dive Travel.

"When I e-mailed Bettina, my agent, to ask about the very restrictive Air Niugini baggage allowances, she replied that for my flight from Brisbane to Port Moresby, I had an additional checked dive baggage allowance: 44 pounds, plus an additional dive baggage allowance of 33 pounds, for a total of 77 pounds. The cabin baggage allowance was 15 pounds. For the Port Moresby connection on Airlines PNG to and from Tufi, I receive a free checked-baggage allowance of 44 pounds, plus an additional dive baggage allowance of 22 pounds, for a total of 66 pounds." Bettina told Dave that "We have a good working relationship with the two PNG airlines, and . . . our special airfares and baggage allowances are only available if booked entirely through us."

Good work, Dave, but two American travel agents say that they can beat the Aussies hands-down. Jenny Collister, who owns Reef & Rainforest in Portland, OR, says that had Dornbusch purchased the Air Niugini tickets in the U.S., his total checked-baggage allowance on international flights would be 23 pounds more than what he received. Ken Knezick, owner of Island Dreams Travel in Houston, says that for flights within Papua New Guinea on either Air Niugini or Airlines PNG, the normal allowance is only 35 pounds per person. "But if ticketed through the U.S., travelers receive a 70-pound per-person baggage allowance on the domestic flights." Kerry Bird, manager of the U.S. office for PNG Tourism, confirmed the benefits for U.S.-ticketed travelers and added, "you get a lower airfare if you buy in the U.S., and fewer air restrictions."

Collister adds, "We dive travel agents know the tricks to help with baggage fees." One airline she works with lets customers purchase a sports card that will reduce overweight fees and provide extra baggage allowance. Another has lower extra-baggage fees if you pay online, while another has lower fees for checking an extra bag ($120) instead of an overweight one ($320). "These are things we put in our final documents to help customers," she says. "It's taken a ton of work to get all of this done, but it's a special perk for our customers.

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