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Suzy Gershman’s Born to Shop: Weighing In


So there I was, at the Delta Airlines counter in the nicest of CDG’s international terminals, E, and trying desperately to get back to the US. Because I had excess baggage, I had called ahead to get the skinny.

The I got to the counter with my four tiny suitcases and was told that I should pay 655 euros in excess. Whaaaat???

I tried to remain clam and spoke the magic word ‘supervisor’ through gritted teeth.

I explained to the supervisor that I had numerous small pieces because I had been responsible for housing two Volcano Refuges and the car did not have space for a larger piece of luggage. I explained that I had called ahead. I explained (and whined) in English and in French.

In the end, it turned out that when I was ticketed, there were different luggage rules in place and that the airline was forced to honor those. That I was right. The supervisor was less than friendly but was efficient. The man behind the counter who had given me the very high quote was rude and steaming fury (and volcanic ash).

The moral of the story:
* Don’t believe what ‘they’ tell you, especially if you’ve investigated and had a conflicting report. There are a lot of bullies out there and airlines are out for every dime they can get from you. Possibly, there’s a prize to the counter agent who rings up the highest fee extras.
* Ask for a supervisor.
* Whenever possible, try to pay in USD rather than euros. Had I known I would have this problem, I could have bought the $50 vouchers in the US and saved some money…and aggravation.
* Fight back. Not only did I call for the supervisor, and my fiddler’s three, but I demanded a tape measure when Mr. Charm tried to tell me that my carry-on bag was too large and needed to be checked as yet another piece of luggage (for big bucks). I won.

Airline fees for checked baggage and for carry-on, or the rules regarding carry-on, are in flux. It seems that the counter agents’ job is to scare you into paying as much as possible. If they win the battle, they win…but for heaven’s sake, give them a fight.

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