Anyone who might read this blog on a regular basis knows that I like to focus on the positive. I tend to write about what I really, really like. Typically, I don’t write negative reviews. There are exceptions, though, and they tend to occur in those (fortunately) rare instances that leave me seething. Boarding my Aeromexico flight at Benito Juarez airport in Mexico City to return home from a wonderful Mesamerica Congress, provided just such a moment.
The decline of service and the continuing growth of airlines nickel and dime-ing on charges is nothing new and has contributed, amongst other things to a major deterioration in the enjoyment of the actual act of getting from one place to another. For those of you to young to know otherwise (i.e. only started traveling after 9/11), the journey used to be almost as much fun (and in some cases more) than the destination and often times, downright pleasurable. The fallout from the 9/11 acts of terrorism began almost immediately. In some ways, things have improved – the security checks are generally not as onerous or time consuming as they had been and they are largely, but grudgingly viewed as a necessary and tolerable evil by most passengers, including myself. That is not what this is about.
No, this is about an airline relying on fine print to gouge hundreds of extra, unnecessary charges from its passengers. I don’t fly as frequently as some friends, but I do travel as much as I can, both domestically and internationally. Needless to say, this was not my first time boarding a plane. I am quite used to airlines having size restrictions for carry-on baggage. After all, the bags must fit in the overhead compartment. I am also used to having airlines having weight restrictions for checked bags. I have never, however, previously encountered an airline, especially for an international flight, employ very limited weight restrictions on appropriately sized carry-on luggage.
On the flight to Mexico City, both my checked and carry-on bags were weighed when I checked in for the flight and both were deemed to be fine. I didn’t give it a second thought. When we checked in at Benito Juarez airport, my checked bag was weighed and was well within the limits, but I was not asked to weigh my carry on bag, which had been augmented with a volcanic cutting stone (at the bottom of the bag).
It wasn’t until I started to board the plane that the very stern male attendant weighed carry-on bags before allowing passengers to board. It turned out that my bag was 5kg over their limit and the attendant would not let me board until I went back to the service desk pay an overweight fee. Frankly, my outrage would still be present if the fee was just $5, but at approximately $100US with no time or ability to transfer or pare belongings (the flight was boarding), I had no choice but to pay. I was certainly not the only one as just about anyone with a typical roll-along carry-on bag found themselves in the same boat.
The policy on weight of legitimately sized carry-on bags is bad enough, but the main reason for writing the rant, is that I feel it was done intentionally to screw people out of more money. Had they asked me to weigh the bag at check-in, I could have done something about it. I could have moved some articles into my checked bag or even discarded extraneous items, thereby avoiding the charges. Instead, they waited until the passengers had no other options than to pay up and through the nose. Despicable. I feel as though I have been robbed.
I love Mexico. It is a wonderful country with a vibrant culture, warm people, fascinating history, and fabulous food. In the future though, I will get there through some other way than their bandit of an airline – Aeromexico. Be forewarned.