I don’t do travelling light. I never have. And quite frankly I never will. I am going away for, let’s say four days so NEED four outfits. At least. Possibly even six if we are doing a posh dinner. Or if I am out all day and want to change in the evening. I also want a change of shoes. And toiletries. And make up. I also go away with a fair bit of tech kit, often my laptop, always my camera. Spare camera battery. Extra memory cards. My phone, chargers, adaptors.
All the clothes go in the suitcase. The airline gives you around 20kg free allowance which is ample for the average suitcase. All the tech and valuable stuff goes in my handbag. I say goodbye to my luggage at check in and pick it up when I arrive in the destination airport.
Everybody is happy
If you can travel light and want to just take a smaller suitcase most airlines will let you take that on as cabin baggage and put it in the overhead bin. And still allow you to take your handbag / briefcase / camera bag. Even an umbrella. Excellent. So as long as your toiletries comply with the regulations everybody is happy.
These systems work.
Except Easyjet like to mix things up a bit as I found out last week. They insist that you can only have one piece of baggage with you in the hold, and if you want to check something in, you have to pay for it.
Okay, fair enough I can understand that. I don’t agree with it, but I can understand it.
Except it doesnt work in practice.
First of all women need a handbag. We carry all sorts in it. We put things in it to keep them safe and in one place. Typically we don’t have pockets so when walking about we can’t shove things in the back pocket of our jeans because our purses won’t fit. So this insistence on only allowing ONE piece of hand luggage/suitcase is a nightmare and doesn’t work.
I was at Geneva airport last week and first issue I had was that the plastic bag that Gatwick had allowed me to use for my toiletries was too big according to security at Geneva. So had to be split. I had to beg for a second bag. In broken French and may have uttered grumpily “pas de problem en Angleterre”. Whatever I said worked because grudgingly they let me through.
However I then had to repack the laptop and kindle etc and all the stuff they insisted came out of the suitcase. Not easy when you are trying desperately to not let the rest of the airport see your dirty washing. Also not easy when your gorgeous host from the trip you have just been on has given you a beautiful cool box and 1kg of cheese because that has to go in too.
So you think to yourself that maybe now you are through security it won’t be so tight, it wont matter. You wander off to Duty Free and in the absence of being able to buy anything prior to this point you buy four Toblerones and a couple of boxes of chocolates, given to you in a sturdy duty free carrier bag.
All fine and dandy until you get to the check in gate and the security guard tells you to stop and makes you put it all in your suitcase.
Well dear reader I can tell you now that was never going to happen. Ever. That suitcase was about to burst and there was no way duty free was going in it too. So I shuffled for a bit and then ran to the bus on the tarmac in the hope I would get away with it. Thankfully I did. Or they just thought “nobody is going to wrestle chocolate of that woman”.
So even if I had paid to check my suitcase in and was standing there with my usual “over body messenger bag” I would have been told that the bag had to go in my handbag. If that is the case why are people allowed to buy things at Duty Free?
Once on the plane though the real farce begins. Because everybody is now onboard a plane with a large bag. A solid rectangular bag that won’t go under the seat in front, which is where most bags go on flights. So they all have to go in the over head bins. On our flight there was nothing under the seat in front in every of the rows I checked. Nothing. All in the overhead bins.
Except they don’t because there isn’t enough room. So what do Easyjet do? Strap the bags into spare seats.
What utter nonsense. It’s a joke. If you want anything out of it mid flight you have to go and wrestle it out of the seat and try desperately not to smack the person sitting next to it.
It’s laughable. And this week we hear that IATA are going to make it even worse by shaving inches off the permitted cabin bag sizes. Which means not only do we have to buy new luggage (Samsonite et al must be rubbing their hands in glee at this one) we are going to have even LESS space to put stuff in.
When did a suitcase and the desire to want to take some clothes with you to look vaguely presentable become the latest thing to beat a travellers up with? Why are we demonising suitcases? Aircraft are built with a hold. Why can’t we fill the damn thing with suitcases and let the cabin be for people and their handbags? Why do we make passengers sit next to a suitcase for two hours?
Yes I know it all comes down to money but that argument is ridiculous, the plane is just as heavy and needs just as much fuel as it would if the bag was in the hold.
We are paying extra for passenger duty, fares have gone up, don’t get me started on the cost hike during school holidays, and now we are bringing in policies that penalise people for wanting to not wear the same pants for a fortnight.
Suitcase image courtesy of Shutterstock