Putting on a brave face

>> Sunday, 8 June 2008

Here's a question for you.

You're on a long trip with your family in, say, Australia. You're going to be gone for a while, perhaps 5 weeks? And since you have two children with you, you have a fair amount of luggage.

Your husband is Packing King (or he thinks so, at any rate). You leave him to it - after getting everything that needs to be packed washed, ready, and in one easily accessible place. The not-so-tidy pile of essential 'stuff' is transformed into one supersized suitcase, one normal, and a lot of smaller bags (most of which get stowed in the bottom of the buggy at check-in in an attempt to fool the girl on the desk that no, you don't have more than one piece of hand luggage per person...)

Now, you are not a shallow individual. You set spiders free rather than washing them down the toilet or sucking them up into the hoover. You buy The Big Issue. You take your unused clothes and grown-out of toys to Oxfam. OK, you may have a couple of overdue library books knocking about, but really, you're a pretty grounded sort of person.

So when, on an internal flight in Australia, you are forced to shed a couple of kilos from the leviathon suitcase you have with you because it's come in at a tad over the limit for a single piece of luggage, you sigh inwardly but don't balk at using the attractive woven plastic blue and white excess baggage they hand you at the check-in desk.

Yes, admittedly you roll the top over, so that as little of it is on view as possible when you board the plane with it as hand luggage. But you smile bravely, telling yourself that once the flight is over you can use it as a laundry bag for the rest of the trip, and that it never need be seen in public again. Particularly since you have a very handy Cath Kidston beach bag with you that would have done the same job perfectly - and a great deal more stylishly - if it hadn't been packed right at the bottom of another bag. By the Packing King.

But, you put it behind you. I mean, you don't actually know anyone in Australia, right?

But, on the next flight, guess what? Your super-double-plus-bag-with-wings is overweight again. And which receptacle has Packing King kept handy, just in case?

I think you know, don't you?

FYI, the weight limit is 32 kilos, if you must know. OK, I admit it. Supersized suitcase weighed 35 kilos. I knew I should never have taken those brown high-heeled boots... And be warned; come next year BA are dropping the maximum weight to 23 kilos for a single piece of luggage (which resulted in what was very nearly a blue fit at Sydney airport before we realised this rule hadn't actually come into effect yet). If I were a suspicious person I might think that is in order they can charge you for taking 2 pieces of luggage rather than one....


Sam I am 9 June 2008 at 04:12  

I know the feeling.... I actually purchased smaller bags so that we dont have that problem anymore!!! Nothing worse than repacking - musical weight....

aims 9 June 2008 at 13:49  

I'm still trying to figure out the need for the high heeled boots. Truly I am.

I have been known to spend 3 weeks in Mexico with a backpack (and a smallish one at that) 1 pair of panties and enough pantiliners to do per day. One pair of long pants, one pair of short pants. 2 t-shirts and a long-sleeved shirt and a jacket. Of course toothpaste and shampoo. No makeup whatsoever.

Best trip I ever had.

Expatmum 9 June 2008 at 14:24  

I am very impressed that you were given another bag (no matter how ugly) to put your excess stuff in. Here, they just tell you to redistribute it and stand around while you sweat buckets trying to do just that.

Mya 9 June 2008 at 14:39  

Glad you are all back home safely -I must say you take the whole excess luggage thing in your stride.Very impressive. I just collapse in tears. I don't know why - it never works.

Mya x

Working mum 9 June 2008 at 21:05  

I've never got the logic of this: suitcase too heavy, carry on excess as hand luggage. IT'S ALL ON THE SAME PLANE - IT DOESN'T CHANGE THE WEIGHT!!!!

We were once told that our hand luggage was too heavy, but removing the camera and carrying it separately was OK! Is it me?

Potty Mummy 9 June 2008 at 21:43  

Sam, I know. Oh, the shame of having to repack in front of the check-in desk. Here's hoping that when we finally get round to buying new - smaller - luggage, that's a thing of the past.

Aims, trust me - when I packed, they made sense. And of course, it's Winter in Aus, which means 12-15 degC in Adelaide, whilst 25 degC in Cairns. So we basically had to pack for both a British summer and Autumn... Don't ask me why, but the boots made sense in that context. Except they didn't - because I never wore them...

Hi EPM - I think they felt sorry for us. Either that, or they just wanted to get us out of the way so they move the queue along.

Mya, I wanted to do that, believe me.

WM, I think it has something to do with the weight the baggage handlers have to lift. Though they probably use machines, so not really sure. Ultimately though, you're probably right - it's all on the same plane...

Grit 10 June 2008 at 07:56  

you'll have to be strong next time and ditch the boots!

(like aims, we do light luggage - one month in aus = one backpack each. it got us marked out as suspicious - we were asked 'where is your luggage?' 4 or 5 times in different ways at check in; she obviously didn't believe we could travel like that with 3kids!)

aminah 11 June 2008 at 10:22  

i hate repacking at check in. Period.

GoneBackSouth 11 June 2008 at 11:29  

I've seen some pretty grizzly sights at airports with people unpacking and re-packing with their knickers and toiletries spread out in piles all over the check-in area. Not pretty.

Potty Mummy 11 June 2008 at 19:45  

Grit, you have my complete - COMPLETE - admiration. And yes, next time I go to the tropics, I won't take the boots...

Aminah, yep, me too. Though it helps when you're repacking into something aesthetically pleasing rather than a blue and white woven plastic carrier...

GBS, I promise, no pants or toiletries were harmed in the repacking of our bags.

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