Monday, August 28, 2017

Fly American

My friend Harry Anderson came in town over the weekend for the day to attend a funeral.  I picked him up at the airport and was amazed that he was traveling so light even for just a day's visit.  Literally he had come cross country with two small briefcases.  Both bags together were not as big as a single roll aboard and when he arrived on American Airlines he was carrying both the bags in one hand.  In fact they were of a size that both would fit easily under the seat.  But that is only the preamble to the story.
After the funeral service we headed to the airport.  On the way we stopped at Creature Features in Burbank. It is Harry's favorite store and he is arguably their biggest customer.  Of course while we were there we run into a mutual friend who is sharing the store with his friend from England.  It was serendipity, which we celebrated by continuing the conversation at the nearest pub.  Turns out it was only around the block from Creature Features. There was much conversation and since everyone is a magician but me, I heard secrets that I can't reveal lest they throw me off the Magic Castle roster of members.  So instead of commenting on that part of the trip, I will move on. 
I dropped Harry off at the airport in plenty of time to get to the gate.  But before I got home he called me to tell me what happened.  To get one of the best internet travel deals, Harry booked an arrival on American and a departure on United.  At the counter they asked how many bags he wished to check.  He held up the two small breifcases and said, "This is all I have."  That is when "traveling light" became an issue. 
It seems that this particular ticket on United did not allow for any carry-on bags. Yes you have heard that this might happen, well United has instituted this weird class of ticket.  Harry said he would pay the fee but that was not acceptable.  Even paying a checked baggage fee would not indemnify the cheap price. They said, "There is nothing we can do but check your luggage." 
When faced with rules that make no sense I too have been known to attempt use of the celebrity card. For Harry it went something like this:  "I am a magician and in these bags are part of my act.  I purposefully packed them in bags that would carry on easily. The last time I was here in LA I checked a bag and it was lost for two days. I had been inspected by TSA who did not pack it up the way it was and some of my stuff was broken."  When that fell on deaf ears he said, "Did you ever watch Night Court?"  No response, "How about the other show I did called Dave's World?"  Blank look.  "Maybe you saw one of the Saturday Night Live shows I did... maybe when I hosted?"  
The truth is these counter agents for United have not see a video screen that didn't have a reservation code and seat assignments on it in decades.  There was no way the bags would be carry on.  This conversation with these agents was a non starter. Suddenly, Harry's fairy godmother shows up.  She is a supervisor, older, more in the demographic that would have been a fan of Night Court.  Harry took a shot.  "Hi, I wonder if you can help me?"  
"OMG you are Harry Anderson. I've seen you on TV."  Selfie's came next with Harry and the supervisor.  Harry explained his delimna.  The agents countered with this logic: "Well, even if we let you go to the gate with those bags, TSA will not let you through. That ticket doesn't allow you to carry on.  They will make you check the bags and that is a bigger hassle."
Now let me say that in all my miles of traveling by air before and after the installation of the TSA, I have never heard this could happen.  The only thing TSA is looking for on your ticket is the TSA cleared stamp and if the name, day and time of the ticket is all correct. I can't imagine they know every code for every discounted ticket and what that means.  But that is the excuse the gate agents used to tell Harry he had to check his stuff.  
Harry once again explained the events of his last experience with checked baggage and once again held up the tiny carry ons.  
The supervisor looked at Harry, looked at the bags and then the agents who were holding firm on a draconian regulation. Then she said to the agents,
"Don't you guys know medical equipment when you see it" and stamped his ticket with red stamp.  She said, "You have a nice trip Mr. Anderson. " 
And that was that.  
Harry told me he thanked her and asked what would be the best thing to do if this ever comes up again.  She said, "Fly American". 
It was great to see Harry, we are like kids at camp every time we have the chance to get together.  However, I was glad this time he was flying and not me. 
As you were,


P. Grecian said...

I'm making a note: Mark props medical. Also introduce myself as "Doctor."

Pete Biro said...

two pals of mine had business cards with Doctor on one and Senator on the other. Great to get tables in crowded restaurants.

john ferrentino said...

Ok American Airlines,
I been a frequent flyer sine 1982. I been gold or platinum for 15 years. I am about 90k short of a million miles. Now keep in mind I have never flown them internationaly so that is a lot of flights.
Last year I had 33 flights booked. You need 30 to remain gold status. 4 of my flights go canceled so American put me on Another Airline.
I get a letter saying since I did not FLY 30 SEGMENTS I no longer have status.
I write a letter explaining everything even giving detailed flight numbers of the cancelations.
I get a letter back stating I am so close to 1 million miles gold for life, that I have been a member since 1982, taking in to consideration I have had status for 15 years in a row. They would reinstate my gold status for $400
Now that's great customer service!