Come fly with me

I like driving. The longer the trip, the better.

But recently, being pushed for time, Sandy and I flew from LaGuardia to Tampa International Airport.

We don’t travel by air as much as we used to. I think part of it is the security. I’m not insecure about travel or my personal safety. I’m just a whole lot bigger on privacy and individual rights.

Plus, air travel just isn’t as much fun as it used to be… especially with all the up-charges and add-ons (planned or otherwise).

For example, my business bag is an L.L.Bean canvas shoulder bag. It’s my office away from the office when I’m moving through the city. It’s also a handy travel bag to slip under the seat on an airplane.

I supposed I should have cleaned out the little zipper compartment before heading to the airport, but I didn’t. And you guessed it. TSA discovered that I was carrying a pocketknife with a lethal blade measuring almost 1-3/4 inches.

Well, you know the story. Either donate it to the collection of stuff that TSA workers take home with them at the end of the day or get out of line, put the knife in my suitcase, and check the suitcase.

So out of line we go and out comes my wallet for a string of seemingly unending up-charges to come.

I can’t check my bag without checking Sandy’s. Well, I could. But I say, “Let’s check them both. We won’t have to think about them.” The up-charge for two bags is $50.

When I booked our tickets, Sandy and I were sitting together on the way down. But we didn’t have seats together for the trip home. In the old days, I’d wait until I arrived at the airport to have them changed. And I used the same strategy this time. But, because the plane was allegedly overbooked, the only way we could sit together would be to upgrade to emergency row seats. It’s only a three-hour trip, but I’m paying a lot of money and think that sitting with my wife should be part of the deal. No deal. Upgrade to emergency row. Two seats at $29 each.

While waiting for the plane to board in Tampa, we decided to grab a sandwich at one of the captive airside restaurants. The sandwich sounded good, but not the fried garlic plantains (whatever they are). So I asked, “Can I substitute potato chips for the plantains. “Sure,” comes the friendly reply from the waitress. “But there is an extra charge.”

Now, the up-charge that wins the prize was renting a car. The deal I booked online before we left was incredible. $88 for the 5 days we needed the car. By the time we added the taxes, fees, fried garlic plantains, and special insurance so that we’re not penalized for a spurious door ding that’s practically invisible to the human eye the total 5-day rental comes to $344.

It seems to me that the business to be in these days is up-charging. No one can argue with you. Either you pay, or you don’t go. Plus, there’s no inventory, no overhead, and no returns.

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