Monday, March 7, 2011

Excess baggage

My son has developed some very un-British characteristics. He no longer automatically says please and thank-you. Americans rarely say please. I feel at my most British when I enthusiastically say ‘Oh, yes please!’ to something. Americans are more likely to say ‘thank you’. They wait expectantly for the ‘You’re welcome’ response. I can’t bring myself to do it!
Today at the bus stop, waiting for the yellow bus, the kids were all jostling. Their aim is to get on the bus first. My son had forgotten to hand a toy over to me when the bus came. Every day he insists on taking something with him. This is fine but some mornings I walk when the bus has gone. I find myself walking around the lake with Buzz Light-year. All the more embarrassing when I accidentally press his button and he says ‘take cover I’ll protect you with my Laser’ to a passer by. I feel I ought to press it more often to see if I can get a reaction. I have visions of a jogger jumping into the lake on hearing ‘inter-galactic emergency, there is a rogue meteor heading for Planet Delta’.
Today he lost his prime position after handing me his toy. He didn’t care. He did the most terrible thing. He just pushed in. He has turned into…. a European! I have to credit the Americans for mostly queuing nicely with their British counterparts.
I have been wondering about him wanting to get on the bus first. Makes no sense given he has an allocated seat. I have come to the conclusion he has caught something of the American instinct vital for flying. He is in training to get on the plane first so he can claim his overhead luggage space. I believe most American airlines charge to check baggage in so most Americans take the biggest carry-on bags permitted. They struggle to wedge them into the overhead lockers before wedging themselves into the seat below.
I take 3 small bags, mine, a bag of toys for the children and the laptop and my son’s Trunkie. Trunkies are great. I don’t know why Dragon’s Den rejected them. Little suitcases little kids can rid on. I’m just waiting for the motorised adult version to come out!
I had never experienced ‘overhead baggage locker rage’ until I flew to America. On every flight I have taken to and from the UK since moving here I have been subjected to someone’s attack. The problem arises because travelling with two children alone I don’t care where I put our bags as long as I can get them back again and get off the plane as quickly as possible. The immigration queue at Raleigh-Durham airport is hideously slow. They only have one international flight a day so they take their time. Illegals and smugglers be warned – they have nothing better to do than cross examine you. I like to get on a plane last and get off first! I have an allocated seat – I don’t feel the need to spring into action the second they call the flight.
Having had the audacity to put my bags in the space above someone else’s head I have been verbally attacked because it is THEIR space. Maybe I should be magnanimous about this but I can’t. I antagonise the situation either by ignoring them or giving them a look that says ‘tell someone who gives a f**K’. This may sound like I am not a nice person, but you have to fully appreciate the madness of my son to realise that facing an 8 hour flight with him, where I put my bags is the least of my worries. They actually expect you to move the bags and usually point to a space in the lockers the other side of the middle row of 3 seats I am in. I’m not sure what they expect me to do, vault over the 3 seats and my children wielding 3 bags?
The people who do this are never with children. One woman told me she was only trying to help. ‘Really? And here was me thinking you were trying to stick an American flag into territory that isn’t yours to claim! I should have told her if she wanted to help she should have my son sat next to her! Another man was truly vile and asked me to move my bags from his locker. I said I didn’t think it mattered. He told me I was mistaken and that It did matter’. I tried really hard to be polite. I actually apologised for my initial rude reaction and moved the bags. The look he gave me was so smug I wanted to punch him and I am never violent! So the ‘overhead baggage locker rage’ usually emanates from me. Rage that people can be so petty and mean! I have to say though I always get the last laugh.  The smug fat bloke sat in his seat with his smug little grin and put his eye mask on and prepared to snooze for the flight ahead. My son rolled up his sleeves, ready for action. Eventually after half an hour of his seat being moved by little feet and fingers opening and closing the tray, he turned and said ‘I was hoping to get some sleep on this flight’. I said very sweetly ‘then you are sadly mistaken!’


  1. Locker rage is sadly not limited to America. Try flying to Africa when returning locals are attempting to get TV's, I kid you not, on board as hand luggage. They don't trust checking in baggage so the absolute maximum possible is taken as hand luggage.
    P.S Why do you take a bag of toys for your laptop?
    "I take 3 small bags, mine, a bag of toys for the children and the laptop and my son’s Trunkie"

  2. LOL!!! The laptop gets a little flat on long journeys and needs entertaining! Perhaps I need to change 'of' to 'with'!
    I don't think I would ever want to fly internally in Africa! Too scary!
    I know this rudeness is not the exclusive remit of the Americans but I personally have only ever expereienced this baggage space free-for-all with Americans!

  3. lol, I can just imagine the locals running for their lives when Buzz Lightyear inadvertently cries out!

  4. Sometimes been disabled has its advantages. Having assisted passage is great , no queuing.On the aircraft first and usually help to put your baggage away. At your destination you are last off the plane but usually first through the terminal and this extends to whoever you are travelling with.So it would pay you to travel with mommy!!!! I can just see you whizzing through the airport on a trunkie with the children behind

  5. Love it Jane, and yes it happens on flights over here. I quite often see locker rage on internal flights to Scotland and NI....sad isn't it that people resort to this. Hope all is good with you over in the states. Sounds like a great adventure.

  6. Mother comes in handy for parking in disabled spots but then it can be a drag walking with her around the shops (XXX)And dont bet on them whizzing you through at RDU!
    I have the perfect solution. Take Buzz on the plane and press his button 'There is a fire on starbase 7, intergalactic emergency, engage hyperdrive now!' They would all adoped the brace position and I could put my bags in un-fettered!
    Hi Louise! Adventure Yes! great....Mmmmm!

  7. Buzz Lightyear, I think u need ur own! Use it in the park and on the plane as previously said, u will have a ball!
    Your last line in the above blog "I said very sweetly ‘then you are sadly mistaken!" I can just see u saying this.. I bet his face was a picture!
    Bridget’s disabled badge has its uses when we are out, not suggesting u get ur own but helpful with family if they are with u.

  8. People w/out children really have no clue. Then there are those smug soles with older "behaved" children. Those people are worse. Makes want to scream, "don't act like you haven't been here before move over!" I've never flown, but I am no stranger to transit bus and road rage.

    LOVE the "then you were sadly mistaken". PRICELESS!!

  9. Having experienced this first hand when I came to visit I know exactly where you're coming from. On our flight home one of the lockers flew open on take off and out popped an unfeasibly large suitcase that had been forced in- glad it wasnt in "my" space directly over my head. I bearly had room for my duty free.....Deb.Sxxxxx