Sunday, November 21, 2010

Skyjacked


The sun shined bright that day.

And the air never smelled sweeter.

It was probably the beautiful sweet broom that grew wild on the rolling Italian hills both near and far.

Since my first visit to Italy in 2006, I've spent countless hours trying to devise a plan for how to live in my beloved Italy, but to no avail. Without a large wallet, a winning LOTTO ticket or Italian blood in my mother or father (none of which I have), I'm forced to sit state side and admire my love from afar.

So it's nice when I can spank my credit card in what has become my annual travel ritual back to Italy. Kinda like my own conjugal visit of sorts.

It was 2010 and I was lucky to have my feet on Italian land. This special year, however, there was a terror brewing. And it wanted me. Specifically, my money.

Gimme This... AND That!

Over the course of my two week stay in Italy, I consumed. And consumed I did. Ironically, as The World's Genuine Consumer Victim, the people and places of Italy have treated me well... excluding the two separate times I was short-changed on the Isle of Capri, but I don't like to remember that. Oh, then there's the time I was fined 25 € on the train for not knowing I needed to validate my ticket for the 1 kilometer long ride. Yeah, that robocop saw me coming a mile away.

So this being my fourth trip to Italy in four years, I considered myself pretty well-
seasoned on the joys of traveling. The lines. The Euro con-
version. The language barriers.

But this year, an unsuspecting terror loomed. A terror cleverly disguised as my friendly airline. Delta Airlines, to be precise.

Delta Dealt It

After a 2-week whirlwind dismount from a wonderful stay in Tuscany and Liguria, we were in our departure city of Pisa. And as all good tourists do, we flocked in search of the leaning tower of Pisa. We were lost for almost an hour when we realized there were no signs pointing this way or that.

Because of the time suck of being lost, we found ourselves pinched for time and bolted from a brief view of the tower power straight for the Aeroporto Internazionale Galileo Galilei. Apparently we bolted too fast, as I'm currently in a painstakingly slow process of receiving my first international ticket for a moving violation of an Italian something-or-other. And like a scream within a dream, auto rental giant Hertz was there to push me down ~ that docudrama arriving here soon.

At the airport check-in counter, a suave Italian (let's call him "Giuseppe") was quick to inform me that my luggage bag holding loot bought near and far was too heavy and I would be required to pay a supplemental "heavy bag fee" of 150 € (about $200 USD).

Really? This was the same bag I had stuffed every year on my travels and while I didn't think I had packed it any fuller than years prior, I accepted my Giuseppe smackdown, who was quick to charge my credit card the extra fine. Giuseppe would sleep well that night.

Maybe what tipped me over the weight limit was the 3 bottles of wine I couldn't bring onto the plane... or the 3 pair of CK skivvies. Ahhh, then there's the Italian children's book "La Cacca," a delightfully smelly read. Whatever the item, I was jacked.

Skyjackedin Pisa.

Time's A Tickin'

With only 45 minutes until my plane left, I felt helpless at the counter. Without time to sort my bag in hope to get it under the weight limit, I went ahead and paid the hefty fee, as did my partner, totaling $400 in extra fees for the same bags flown from the US.

When I got back on US soil, I did some math and realized that not only was I jacked, I was rolled in flour and olive oil then flash-fried and deep-fried skyjacked.

I later found out that had I just flown an extra bag all together, the Delta fee would have been just 50 €, but because my bag was deemed heavy, I had to pay three times that price for the privilege to fly my crap and keep it, too.

So adieu to you, Giuseppe. And "fork you," friendly Delta!... you do "love to fly, and it shows!"

So the next time I travel, I'll think thrice about flying your pricey skies. And I'll certainly think about it come the fine day I uncork the Italian wine that wound-up costing $400 USD.

Now that's tasty!

Victim's Notable: During this experience, I coined the term "skyjacked," which is now a published word on Urban Dictionary. So while not the luckiest of flyers, my bruises made me socially relevant.

Yeah, I know!

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