Our friend Mala told us the horror story of a cousin she was travelling with who ended up paying an excess luggage charge of £500. Yes, you read that correctly - £500 English pounds (alright not worth as much as it used to be around the world but still a lot of money in the old country). Her luggage sounded like it was a tad over the maximum allowed - the excess charge was a lot more than the original cost of the flight....Ouch.
Each airline has different rules and regulations, which is fine except that you don't always know who you are flying with. One year we booked with BMI to go to Canada and diligently followed the BMI luggage rules, which were based on weight. When we arrived at the airport we found that the flight was actually with BMI's partner, Air Canada, I think, who based their rules on the number of items to be checked in. With two ski bags, one case (impressive for us, not sure how that happened, it was probably rather large) and two boot bags, making a total of 5 items (go on count them if you don't believe me). The Air Canada rules stated 2 checked items per person, and although I argued valiantly that we should be allowed to use the BMI rules the check-in girl would not back down - demanding an additional £60 for the "5th" piece. I asked her if she had any packing tape and she looked quizzically at me before handing some over. I then proceeded to spend the next 5 minutes rather theatrically taping the two ski boot bags together, much to the amusement of fellow passengers - I should have put a hat down with a note saying "wife and 5 bags to support". The end result was 4 pieces of luggage, one of which was now almost impossible to carry. I heaved the boots onto the conveyor belt and stared at her defiantly waiting for her response. I got a non-committal shrug (she didn't sound particularly French but did a damn good impression) ....and felt her wishing I would go away ASAP.
With these examples on my mind and as organiser of this year's group ski trip I fear I may have over-emphasised the need to keep the weight in the main luggage down.... as demonstrated by the following responses from some of the group:
Lisa - "I have been personally practicing the 'how many clothes can I wear before they charge me for an extra seat?!!! ' route, and I’m up to about 6 top layers at the mo for the flight out! I'm really wishing I was joking but I’m not !! I have to make space in the case* somehow !!!! "
Me - You do realise that you won't get a rebate for travelling with an empty case.....? On the other hand I'm looking forward to see you being rolled onto the plane. That reminds me: I had better call ahead and get the plane doors widened.....
Lisa - "Quick question, what does the snow report bit mean? 80 lower and 190 upper ?? It sounded like a blood pressure reading and I have no idea what it could relate to snow wise !! Is it inches ??? Surely not !!"
Me - "Sadly the depth is in centimetres not inches. I'm a bit worried about your blood pressure, it sounds dangerously high but I'm putting it down to your excitement over the inches......"
* The majority of Lisa's case being full of various medications and wigs (see photo's below). She bought enough for everyone to wear (In case you don't know, Lisa likes wigs and shiny blingy things), leaving very little room for anything else.
Joe took the whole thing very seriously and opted to keep most of the weight out of his and Kirsty's main luggage. The result was that their luggage came in at a very respectable 11kg and 14kg. A long way under the 20kg limit and with loads of room left. Unfortunately when Joe's ski bag was weighed we found out where all the extra luggage from the main bags had gone. His ski bag came in at a whopping 29kg, 6kg over the maximum weight the handlers will deal with. "No problem" announced Joe " We can transfer the excess weight into our main bags"......Only these had already been checked and were now out of sight - apparently it was worth more than the check-in woman's job to go and retrieve them. The only luggage that had not gone through was my ski bag which when weighed was only slightly under the limit. It was only still with us because the skis had to be taken to a different area for loading. We managed to take 8kg out of Joe's ski bag and transferred it into my now bulging bag. I then whipped this down to the ski load area and somehow managed to heave it onto the conveyor belt before they could weigh it again. Meanwhile Joe's ski bag was now just over the limit so received a "Heavy load" tag but no additional fee.....I bet the baggage handler who avoided Joe's ski bag complete with its warning tag, was less than impressed as he attempted to heave my ski bag on board....
BlackLOG top tips for packing light
- Ditch any particularly heavy tracks off of your IPod.....
- Wear all the clothes that you are taking with you...Contact Lisa for how best to achieve this.
- Put all your heavy stuff in someone else's luggage.
- Fill any spare space in your bag with helium balloons - Warning this might prove awkward if stopped by Customs, remember it is not cool to laugh at the nice customs officer when he is lecturing you, even if he now has a squeaky voice. As a precaution, some of the balloons could be filled with Nitrous oxide (Laughing gas), so if you do get arrested at least everyone gets to have a good giggle.....
- Do the luggage swap hustle - Now that they are starting to weigh hand luggage and provide limits for what can be taken on board the trick of putting all the heavy stuff into your take on bag is not as easy as it once was. Although with a bit of ingenuity it can be achieved, especially if you have a large party. The trick is to keep everyone moving about so the check-in staff can't really tell what is going on....Since the bags stay with you, you can simply move the heavy items from one bag to another one that has already been weighed....
Me - With my "ski to survive" technique - not exactly stylish but can get down almost anything. However if I hear "Your wife is such a stylish skier......" one more time it will not end well.
I tend to ski fast so that no one sees how bad my technique really is. Managed just two sit downs and an emergency Joe avoidance manouvre, when he stopped unexpectedly in front of me, during the whole week.
Mrs B - Stylish skier, although was the only one of us who limped away from this year's holiday after crashing off-piste on her Birthday and twisting her ankle.
Joe - The best skier of the bunch with speed, skill and stamina. A bit of a ski siren though as he forgets that not everyone has his ability and youth. Managed to lure Mrs B to her near-demise - with the fateful words "Come on, it's easy...."
Kirsty - A bit rusty after 4 years off the slopes but managed the best face plant in ski history with accompanying squeal all captured on two Iphones. It is only my good nature and more to the point, lack of a copy of the footage, that prevents me from posting it here....
Philip - Style coming along nicely although has a tendency to wave whenever a camera appears.....
Christian - A determined skier whose distinct crouch can be recognised from miles away - has two speeds: fast or dead slow depending on his mood.
Lisa - The best entertainment on the slopes - now known as the "Ski Slope Tourettes Girl". Despite skiing for a number of years, Lisa has developed a deep ingrained fear of skiing but is determined not to let it stop her getting out on the slopes. In order to get over this fear she plays very loud music and talks to herself as she comes down the slopes. The result is if you ski on any slope with SSTG all you will hear is
at the very high volume that only people wearing headphones tend to use....Getting off a chair lift with SSTG is a similar experience but only without the intructions to "Turn".
If you ever find yourself in whiteout conditions you could do worse than follow the sound of "Turn, Turn, F*ck, Turn, Turn, F*ck...." to safety
Mala - Despite being small, Mala's leg stance could accommodate at least a dozen large horses....
We had to drop Mala off at Ski School on the first day - it was all very traumatic but I think I managed to put her and her class mates at ease when I yelled back:
"Mala, you will be fine. Just remember not to knock all your class mates over this time....."
Joe's dad Frank, sister Becky and brother Alex + his friend Nathen. They were booked into a hotel around the corner.
The Chalet Reps - who were like an old married couple, Bart - 20 year old going on 60 and his whipping boy Julian -
To finish off this week there was so much going on during the holiday (like the most powder skiing I have seen in my 20 years on planks - what's going on this was the end of March....2 Birthday celebrations - Mrs B and Lisa - a job promotion, well done Christian and an engagement Mala, we were just sorry that Craig could not make it). I thought I would spare you the 20 pages it would take to cover it all and decided to capture the spirit of the holiday with quotes and pictures ...They amused me and I hope some might translate for you. If not, feel free to use some of the Nitrous oxide from earlier (I think I saw some in the red balloon at the back of the blog), if nothing else it will make me feel happier if I know you are giggling....
Me - "It's a bit weak but hot and ready to be drunk"
Joe - " Its great to have wood !.... " To Christian whilst putting up balloons. Christian was rendered speachless.
My, my you do have filthy minds, how can one explain this? Oh yes we were putting balloons up to celebrate Mrs B's birthday but with no tape, pins or even blue tack to help us. The inside of the Chalet was wood lined which allowed for "thrusting" the tied ends of the balloons into the joints between the planks.....Tsk Tsk go wash out your dirty minds................
Lisa - "Have you seen the size of the Chest freezer on the balcony?"
The Group - "What chest freezer?"
Lisa - "The huge one in the corner, you can't miss it!"
The Group - "You mean the Jacuzzi?"
Lisa - "Oh....That might be it"
The 8 of us shared the chalet with a family of four, which included two death-obsessed girls aged 10 and 12**. Oh and a Columbian drug baron - well he might be. He did live in Columbia for 5 years and had a dodgy moustache - two sure signs of a drug baron, in my book....
** Sitting next to the girls at dinner was considered "taking one for the team". Comments thrown into the mix at meal times from the pair included the following conversation killers:
"We had a cat but it's dead"
"My Uncle has bowel cancer"
"My Aunty went out in her nighty and died....."
10 year old sister in equally broad Scottish accent - "Ay, she does, she does you know ..."
Christian admitted thinking to himself - "I hope the lock works on my door...."
Me - "Is it just me or does anyone else feel like they are in a J.K.Rowling novel....?"
*** For any skiers/snow boarders reading this - it can be translated as moguls. For you non-skiers it translates as mounds of snow made by skiers
There are so many more quotes but many not fit for even the semi-polite blogosphere. Hope you enjoyed this weeks BlackLOG, if not use some more Nitrous oxide (I think there is some left in the pink balloon below) and stop being so damned miserable.....
Catch you next week.