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Beware of unnecessary baggage charges

A cautionary tale: I arrived bleary eyed at the United Airlines counter at Los Angeles airport at 5.40am this morning and used the self-service checkin. Easy peasy. Just opened my passport and stuck it on the scanner, it came up with my flight details which I confirmed with my middle name and date of birth. Then the question: do you have luggage. Yes, said I, and pressed 1. That will be $25 (that’s $25 US dollars!) Gulp. I’d heard about luggage charges but thought you could get 1 bag free. I put my credit card in, out spat my boarding pass and a United Airlines employee came along to stick my bag tag on.

I asked her about the charges and said I was traveling from NZ. Oh baby, she said in her southern American drawl, you didn’t need to pay. If you’re leaving the country in 30 days, you get to take your bags for free. You should have asked the ground staff.

I replied that I didn’t know there was anything to ask about as the machine didn’t ask me if I was an international passenger. She agreed it should have.

In the end she said I could go online to United Airlines website and apply for a refund. Hmmm, thought I, I doubt that’s gonna happen. Not that I’ve checked, but I can only imagine the palaver of getting said $25, and would happily forfeit that to keep my sanity.

United Airlines check in

Check your fees at the kiosk – Pic/Flickr Travel Collector

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Hi, I'm Megan Singleton and I'm the word slinger of this travel blog as well as on radio in NZ every Sunday. Former Travel Editor at Yahoo NZ and current freelance writer for a few newspapers and mags from time to time, I set off on this travel writing journey 20 years ago and I've pretty much always got a suitcase half packed (or half un-packed!) I'd love you to join me on Facebook or Twitter and sign up for my newsletters if you want loads of travel tips, advice and deals!