Thursday, March 11, 2010

PHX Didn't Treat Me Well

February 26th I would fly from Phoenix to Las Vegas where I would meet Mark and Jeff, riding buddies from home, who would be riding Adventure Corps Death Valley Camp with me.

Why don’t airports have scales near the check-in counters so you can weigh your bags before it’s your turn to check in your luggage? At least then you can redistribute your poundage from one bag to another to meet the 50# weight restriction.

I typically LUV Southwest ‘cause 2 bags fly free, if they’re under 50#. My bike fits in an airline compatible suitcase, meaning it’s under 62” in combined length, width, and depth. This day I had the un-privilege of an authority-seeking SWA check-in agent. “Is that a bike in this case?” How can I say “no” when I’m holding a wheel in a wheel-bag and a helmet is dangling from my carry-on day pack. “That will be $50.” But, I fly SWA regularly, fly with this bike multiple times a year and I’ve never been charged for it just because of what’s inside the box. “Well, you were just lucky, and besides it weighs 54 pounds.” By this time I’m not about to repack the bike box and the duffle to equalize the weight between the two pieces of checked luggage. Besides, I was going to be charged $50 regardless of weight since he was in a power-happy mood.

I got to know the PHX TSA guys and gals way better than I ever wanted to. I had a 4# bag of Hammer HEED (powder to mix with water for my cycling water bottles) in my carry on Day Pack. Apparently there’s something in HEED that warrants it being considered contraband and its carrier (me) being raised to the profile of highly suspicious. After a 20 minute TSA-style wanding of everything in me/on me/with me, TSA said I could fly, but my HEED could not. My choice was to surrender it or take in on the pre-screening side and ship it.

And to add insult to insult, Starbucks, near the gate, wanted to charge me $4.21 for a cup of Early Gray tea with steamed soy, plus the flight attendant was not in the mood to help find a place to stow my wheel on the plane.

What a welcome sight to see that Mark and Jeff had arrived 45 minutes early, the beginning of up, more ups, and upper ups. 

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