A Tale of Two Bags

It’s hard to quantify what a large bag can cost. If one purchases a ticket as a $9 fare club member with Spirit and has the forethought to pay for a check in bag, the fee is $21 each way. Of course, as I discussed before, without forethought Spirit’s baggage fees can feel a little more like robbery, but let’s stick with the $42 number.

Here’s a couple bags I’ve used for various trips:

BagsThe one on the right is my “Spirit bag”, and the green one on the left is my Eagle Creek roller. I have taken the Eagle Creek on a number of trips when I plan to stay over a week or feel like I need more variety of clothing. I normally use it as a carry-on since it fits so nicely in the overhead bins of the larger planes. Delta, American, and Royal Jordanian have never batted an eye. I think the only time I checked it was when I had a plastic bottle of Dead Sea water I wanted to bring home.

Then, one fateful trip to Europe, I decided to take it along. After all, I was flying Delta and their code shares (Air France and KLM) internationally so I figured I would have the luxury of rolling aboard and tossing it in the overhead.

When I scheduled the flight, I intentionally chose one of the flight plans offered with a layover in Amsterdam at the end of the trip of greater than four hours. That’s just enough time to catch the train into town and walk around, take a few pictures, and have a beer without missing the connecting flight.

I was flying back on a Saturday, so I started to hope that I could possibly get some bonus time in AMS. The flight didn’t have many empty seats when I checked online before I left. The young lady next to me on my first leg at the beginning of the trip happened to be a flight attendant on her way to meet her next working flight. She was kind enough to use the Delta crew app on her iPhone to confirm that my flight from AMS to DTW was in fact oversold by 12. Bonus time seemed like it was in the cards.

Leaving Barcelona, the KLM ticket agents were all OVER the bags people brought to the airport. Every carry-on was scrutinized and only the smallest got this beautiful tag.

KLM Carryon TagUnfortunately, my Eagle Creek did not and was checked through to DTW.

I was actually relieved to not be encumbered by the large bag during my whirlwind train ride and stroll through the city. At the gate, after the security screen and the immigration questions, the gate agents said they would love to offer me a night of lodging and a reward to fly out the next day, thereby helping to relieve their oversold condition. However, I had that checked bag and they couldn’t do anything about it. I was forced to board the plane, dashing my hopes of bonus time.

And the monetary reward they were offering?  €600. That’s $817 at today’s exchange rates.

That darn bag cost me nearly an international round trip ticket and a night in Amsterdam. Probably some meal money, too.

And the irony is that during the course of our week in Europe, we never saw the inside of a hotel and only showered one time. I could easily have survived that trip with just the Spirit bag.

Life is so much more free when you travel with just a carry-on.



I'm an engineer, a veteran, and an avid traveler. I agree with Robert Louis Stevenson - "I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move."

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