[NetBehaviour] TIFU by booking the cheapest flight #poignant

BishopZ xchicago at gmail.com
Fri Nov 20 21:07:59 CET 2015

On Thursday I get a call - my boss is in a pinch. He needs me to fly from
Denver to Atlanta on Sunday night. It is last minute, and I know the flight
will be expensive. I bought the lowest fair listed on kayak.com as I have
done hundreds of times over more than ten years.

Kayak called the offer a "hacker deal" because it booked two separate
one-way flights. The flight to Atlanta on United airlines, three days out,
cost more than $300. The flight from Atlanta on Frontier airlines, seven
days out, cost $59 and was booked through Orbitz.com.

The flight to Atlanta was fine. The work situation was resolved - everyone
was happy and I was on my way home. I was waiting at the gate when they
announce over the intercom, "if you have two carry-on items, then you need
to come to the counter."

I have a 'rolley' bag that is exactly the dimensions that a "carry-on item"
is allowed to be. It is the same carry-on garment bag I have used on every
other flight. It fits nicely in the overhead compartment. It matches
perfectly to the Airport provided aluminum measuring device that sits next
to the gate counter. I also have a small backpack for my laptop, which
would not be safe in a garment bag.

I go to the counter. There is a $60 fee for a second carry-on item.

I get the idea of it. They are trying to be a low cost alternative by
reducing the services they offer. They have additional rules that the other
airlines do not. I remember when Delta and United made a big public splash
when they changed the fees for checked luggage. Which, in turn, encouraged
travelers to use carry-on items.

Let me be clear, this isn't a TIFU because I had to pay an extra 40 bucks.
It's a TIFU because of the leverage they had against me to enforce my
immediate payment:

#1 - I had already been through a long TSA line. The US government had
double-checked my documentation, scanned all of my items and body. Any
interference with my travel plans would send me through one or more rounds
of screening. And with terrorists on all the news, everyone is afraid to
make a peep at airports. Me and everyone around me felt very uncomfortable
protesting this sudden extortion.

#2 - She said, "Do you want to talk to a supervisor?" (first mention of a

I say, "Yes, I would."

She explains that if I wait for the supervisor to get to the gate, then I
will miss my flight.

I say that I am okay with that.

She explains that if I miss my flight there will be a $100 fee to transfer
my flight.

"So, I need to pay $100 to talk to a supervisor?" I ask.

#3 - Was I supposed to be aware of this surprise fee because of their
marketing, or their brand, or what? Where did I go wrong? How is it that I
could have arrived at the conclusion that I should have prepared for their
flight in any other way than the hundreds of other flights I have taken?
Over and over they explained that it was my fault for not reading the fine
print, or Orbitz fault for not communicating to me that there would be new

Maybe it was in the fine print. Does it all chalk up to a user interface
failure then, or my lack of research? I feel like they sent me an email and
are expecting that I am responsible for having received, read and agreed to
it. Except that the TSA is their muscle!! **whoa** #whoa

In the end, the gate attendant offered me $20 off, and I took it. A
supervisor did show up before I boarded. I gave him a talking to, but as
much as I wanted to protest what I considered to be extortion, I could not
afford to. Definitely not in an airport.

There were other one-way flights available on Kayak that cost less than
what I ended up paying. Had I known the full cost, I could have booked
better arrangements. Should I blame Kayak or Orbitz or Frontier or myself?

IMO just because you put up a sign, and someone walks past the sign, does
not mean they are fiscally responsible for the rules you set forth in your
sign. Legally you can not reduce your own responsibility by putting up a
sign which may be too small for people to read.

tldr; capitalism works by getting you to buy something now, that will force
you to buy something later.

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