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October 2011    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 26, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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A Tale of Three Fees

from the October, 2011 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

I'm really not a gearhead. I don't have rebreathers, diver propulsion vehicles or big camera kits. But my dive buddy and I do travel with regulators, multiple computers, back plates, wings, lights, several cutting tools, safety gear, first aid kits, layers of rubber, backup masks, spare parts and towels. Like I said, not gear heads.

Thus when we found ourselves at the Jet Star counter in Cairns en route to Sydney with two dive bags, a full-sized suitcase, two carry-on rollies, a daypack, three pieces of aboriginal art, a handbag and a Prada tote (the latter is a subliminal transmission to the airlines to nail us for the excess baggage fees)., the clerk's eyes widened.

"Just here for the weekend," I said.

"Right. We'll overlook the dive bags even though they're 27 kilos each, but the suitcase is excess and it's 28 kilos, so at $15 a kilo, that will be $420."

The better part of valor being discretion, I stepped to the rear and let the ladies duke it out. Wheedling and cajoling didn't work, nor did a little woman-to-woman "Oh, come on now." The tab was still $420. Then my Partner's MBA degree kicked into high gear.

"How much is a seat to Sydney?"

"$150," was the reply.

"I'll buy the ticket, and the suitcase goes."

"Umm, I'll have to check with Andrew." Jet Star is a code-share with Qantas, and Andrew, who worked for Qantas and turned out to be a thoroughly likeable lad, trotted over.

"Andrew, these people have a $420 excess bag fee, and they want to buy a ticket for the extra bag for only $150."

"What airline did you arrive on," Andrew asked us.

"Qantas."

"Well, then the fee is charged per bag, and it's only $40."

Problem solved. Fly the flag.

- - D.L.

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