I recently took trip to the Philippines for diving in the Tubbataha Natural Marine Park and in Puerto Galera. I was lucky enough to be invited on a familiarization trip with one of my suppliers. These trips are crucial to learning about an area for individual and group dive trips, which are my bread and butter. I get very excited about traveling before and during a trip and I am fanatical about diving. So this post is a totally different thing for me. I just need to sound off at the airline industry about the total annihilation of all things fun (and affordable) about flying!
First, let me say, this trip is not the only reason for the post. I have not really had a good flying experience for a very long time and I fly quite a bit. To start with, lets talk fees. Everyday I read about more and higher fees being added by the government or the airlines to make it more expensive to get anywhere. Last week it was that congress was increasing the TSA fees on every leg of every flight. Increase? They at least doubled every fee and added new ones if you have a long layover. Ok, so we need to fund the TSA, right? Wrong, this will not be used to fund the TSA. This will be used at the discretion of congress! Give me a break. Why are travelers the new unlimited bank for a totally out of control congress.
Now the airlines fees. First it was a small baggage fee for checked bags and no more free food. I have a group that will be going to the Philippines in February and I finally got the airfare arranged with United. This was after 2 months of trying really hard to get a decent group rate on at least 6 different airlines and finally giving up and booking individual air. Then I checked the bag fees. OMG, they just raised them earlier this year and instead of the usual 2 – 50 lb bags for an overseas flight, they allow one and charge —–READY FOR THIS—–$100 for the 2nd bag!!! That is highway (or skyway) robbery. When you are a diver (or a golfer, or a surfer, or a hunter, or a fisherman, etc.), you have some luggage because of your dive or sports gear. The only saving grace for this trip is the partner airline that will be the first leg back out of Manila, All Nippon Air, didn’t change theirs to 1 bag and $100 until 3 weeks after we bought the tickets. Lucky us, we only get extorted one time for $100 instead of two. Look out, I bet all the overseas airlines will be following suit. What’s next? Carry-on fees, charging for water, having pay toilets?
Now for the next thing. Theft out of checked bags. I have had things stolen out of a checked bag three times, locked with a TSA approved lock two of the three. This trip was the worst. My dive knife, a safety sausage, a retractor and several other items were stolen. The replacement cost is $120! I can’t use a regular lock because the TSA would cut it off so I can’t protect any of my belongings. I take all real valuables in a carry-on but this was just small dive gear stuff and the knife that I can’t carry on. My knife has been stolen from a checked bag before. It is perfectly legal for me to bring a dive knife and it can save my life if I get entangled while underwater. What gives some airport schmuck employee the right to endanger my life and steal my safety equipment?!?!? Why are they hiring thieves in the first place? I’ve seen hidden camera reports about this and it’s a serious problem and rampant in most large airports!
Because I flew on 2 airlines, I don’t have anyway of knowing who to blame. I flew EVA from Manila to LAX and United from there home. It’s just disgusting that they know they can steal anything they want and get away with it, no problem. You can’t secure your bags. I have tried the no lock way too. I still have had things stolen. I will be looking for a metal box to put the knife in from here on.
That’s just the first installment, next will be luggage abuse!