Aditya Sanghi Speaks

Online diary

Excess Baggage woes and a seemingly good idea

Nothing hurts like having to pay for excess baggage.

It’s always insulting and you feel really bad trying to persuade the check-in staff to let go. Even if you get over that, it’s always expensive. Then you hear stories from other how they “got-off” from having to pay for excess baggage and feel cheated when you couldn’t get the same deal. I’ve heard of people trying to aim for a forgiving looking check-in staff to check-in with in case they think they might be slapped with excess baggage charges.

I’ve been nervous about it during my frequent travels when I’ve been moving countries (I’ve lived in 5 countries and many cities for a considerable time in each).

The last time I was slapped with a fine MORE than the return economy class fare from India to Berlin on Qatar Airways (generally sucky airline!) with no option available for baggage to be sent later or separately in cargo. I was even prepared to upgrade a seat to business class to get a reduction in excess baggage charge, but NO sirree bob!

Much goodwill is lost with the traveler. I for one wont ever travel with Qatar Airways if I had an option.

From the airline point of view, I really wonder how much it really costs them to allow excess baggage? I have a feeling it averages out. I’m sure there are lots of people on the plane with luggage under the limit. Even if everyone exceeds the baggage limit, the total extra weight cannot be more than a 1000-1500 Kgs overall, I would imagine. They primarily have to adjust the excess baggage against extra fuel that the aircraft might have to spend to fly the extra weight. On the whole, excess baggage is a net *fucking* huge profit for the airline. And every time a passenger pays it, the airline loses goodwill. Over time, and in the twitter age, a bad recommendation travels far. In future, when social suggestion and validation is going to be prime tools for product selection by customers, keeping up goodwill is of more importance today then ever before. Frequent Flyer miles are just too hard to redeem and frankly I’ve stopped being loyal to one airline simply for a the carrot at the end of the stick.

Now I think i’ve got a good idea how this can all be improved. Right now, there is penalty for flying with excess baggage but there is NO reward for flying under the baggage limit. I mean i’d PAY to get into a club where i got rewards for flying light and then trade them off the one time I shopped a lot. Or I’d have the ability to trade them off to someone who needed it more than I did and benefit from my under 20kg travels.

Everytime, I fly under the excess baggage limit, I’d get credit for the number of Kgs under the baggage limit. Everytime, I fly over the excess baggage limit, I’d get my points reduced by 1:1 or perhaps less ratio, similar to earning and spending air-miles.

A Facebook or some such social application could help people with baggage allowance points to trade them on an online marketplace, live when you needed them.

Of course, I haven’t thought of all the modalities and probably flew buy some important detail, but right now I’m just excited by a good idea.

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  • I get back at them by being fat. That way I cost them more every time I fly. I rarely go over the baggage, and when I do it doesn’t hurt so much knowing that I’ve gone over on the cabin weight many times. 🙂