Saturday, 18 February 2017

Beat the airlines at their own game

It sounds like a battle is being waged and all you are trying to do is take is take a vacation.   Airlines are facing the same problems as cruise ships in terms of pricing.  Many people travel regularly now, compared to a generation ago, and they want to keep  travelling.   They just want to pay the same as they did twenty years ago.

I took the same cruise last summer that I had taken twenty-five years earlier.   Same cruise line, same standard of cabin;   Vancouver to Alaska , return.   The 'catch'?    The price was the same:   $1250. CAD.    Competition is rampant in the cruise ship industry as many, many ships have been built or refitted over the past years.   Keeping the base price appealing means nickel and diming (not that a nickel or dime buys much these days) has become rampant.   I'll write more on this topic on a future post.

Airlines first brought in the charge for checking your luggage.   Quite a few people retaliating by travelling carry-on only, as I do.   Some carry-on size bags are quite large and if you've ever watched flight attendants trying to squeeze the large and numerous bags into the overhead bins on the aircraft you'll have figured out that the situation wouldn't be allowed to continue.   But it's not just the price, I and not a small number of others, have had checked baggage either lost, re-routed in error, or damaged.   Carry-on avoids that as well.   Win - win you might say.

United Airlines is first out of the gate in deciding to charge passengers for carry-on bags.  Now you can only bring on, for free, a bag that can fit under your seat.   Not much more than purse size.

This used to be economy

As a longstanding  carry-on traveller I have researched various ideas and methods that could be used to avoid checking your suitcase.   Some are amusing, some border on ridiculous and some seem downright clever.    Families can box up and send their vacation clothing to their tropical destination via UPS or some other carrier.  Or maybe you can send them General Delivery to the main post office at your first destination.   If you are staying at the same resort for one or two weeks or more this can save you money.   Four or five family members, each checking a suitcase would amount to $250 to $500.  ($25 - $50 each way x 5).   It seems it is cheaper to ship a box or boxes back and forth as long as you don't need to travel beyond your shipping destination.
Remember to put 'used clothes' as the content to avoid paying duty.

Then there's the suggestion of travelling with a carry-on bag (probably packed with your underwear) and upon arrival heading immediately to the nearest thrift store or charity shop.   For considerably less than the check luggage fee you and your children can purchase enough clothing to last a couple of weeks.   This reminds me of the character in Lee Child's book, whose title name escapes me, who bought a set of clothing, wore them for several days and then discarded them.  His busy life, tracking down notorious criminals, did not allow for time at the laundromat.

Tim Ferriss' blog (of 4 hour Work Week fame) which you can look at here   is pleased to provide a unique idea for avoiding ever checking luggage again:  Leave caches of clothing and even food at hotels you frequent. Seems to me it might require a large tip.

What about wearing all your clothes?    Check out this website, Jaktogo, for tips on how to wear all your clothes on your body when you fly.   Better hope the air-conditioning is working.  A more conservative version of this involves reversible clothing.   I suppose even the pants that zip off to become shorts and jackets that have sleeves that zip off to reveal a vest, reduce the amount of clothing required.

Will the day come when we pay our airfare by our body weight?  Wait, passengers from Samoa already enjoy that dubious pleasure.

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