Confessions of A Luggage Anorexic

What weight limit?
What weight limit?

I remember the days when the only weight I had to worry about was my own. Now, due to unbundling and surcharges courtesy of the airline industry, I’ve become a luggage anorexic. And it’s not images of thin suitcases that have me paranoid. It’s the sometimes hefty fees that loom over me like a cobra waiting to strike if I’m a milligram over the limit.

Yes, I know the basic principles of aviation as well as physics. I know that more weight equals more fuel equals greater costs to the airline. But can anyone deny that there isn’t at least some (read: almost completely) attempt at boosting profits here?

I know there are those who were ‘abusers’ before the nickel and diming began. My youngest sister would check in a suitcase that could comfortably house an immigrant family of four on several trips, so I get where the airlines are coming from. But that doesn’t mean that most people would do so, and by most people I mainly mean me.

The worst case I ever encountered was on the budget airline Virgin Blue. My flight from Cairns to Sydney had a stop in Brisbane with a change of planes. Not only did I have to pay excess baggage fees for being past their weight limit of 12 ounces (slight exaggeration) but they charged me again when I changed planes! So to avoid (unsuccessfully) this absurdity, I opened my suitcase and began stuffing all my pockets with balled-up clothes and souvenirs.

That sort of weight-related trauma eventually morphed into a paranoia. Now I try to re-use as much clothing as possible, hoping for a laundromat onsite at my destination, not only for my comfort but for those seated next to me. I even closely calculate the number of pairs of underwear I bring, since I know my wife would never let me flip them over and use the other side. And if push comes to shove I’ll drop them in the trash and go commando if it means I don’t have to pay another $75.

Air travel was supposed to be about escape, adventure, and the good life. Now I’m reduced to gutting my bags and fighting the temptation to eat an entire cheesecake so I can gain a few pounds just to spite the airlines. So if you’re seated next to me on a flight and I smell a little ripe, have pity on me, and just know that my name is Ben and I’m a luggage anorexic…

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