Figure Skating Travel Woes: My Memories of a Bad Experience With United Airlines: December, 2008
After the April 9, 2017 incident with United Airlines, I remembered that I wrote this blog post below on December 17, 2008. After that bad experience I had with United Airlines, I decided to NEVER fly with them again.
Figure Skating Travel Woes
When a figure skater travels by plane to an important ice skating competition, the following items must be carried on to the plane:
- Skate bags with figure skates (of course!)
- Competition costumes
- Practice costumes
- Warm-up jackets or sweaters
- Competition Music
Airlines allow each passenger to board a plane with one personal item (such as a computer) and one carry on bag that must fit in the overhead compartment or under the seat. These strict limitations make it very difficult for figure skaters. I know this from a personal experience.
In 2008, I traveled to a major competition with my children. Five of us were traveling. We had the following with us as we began to board a United Airlines plane home:
- Two small skatebags with skates, skate guards, and gloves inside
- Competition costumes in a garment bag
- Sweaters, coats, and jackets (in a 2nd garment bag)
- Lap-top Computer
- Books and games to use on the plane
- Food in a grocery bag
- An opened tote full of the stuffed animals that were thrown on the ice after the children’s performance
- Purses and wallets
The United Airlines check-in attendent told us that the loose tote with the stuffed animals counted as a carry-on bag. He tried to take my little girl’s doll away saying that since the doll was packed in an additional bag, that she had too many items! He even said that the plastic grocery bag of food counted as a carry on item.
Each person in my family did carry two bags on to the plane, but we were told that a second garment bag had to be checked since my husband happened to be carrying both garment bags. The problem was that my husband was not carrying one small item and one larger item. (The United Airlines check-in attendant wouldn’t permit one of us to trade items with my husband to conform with United Airlines’ one small bag and one larger bag policy.) To solve this problem, we took the jackets and sweaters out of the garment bag and wore them as we boarded the plane, so we ended up entering the plane with only one garment bag instead of two.
We consolidated our luggage in front of the other customers right at the gate. The attendant said we were blocking the gate and kept trying to embarrass us and made my children cry as we moved things around. Finally, he reluctantly let us enter the plane and yelled at us and called us names and said how stupid we were. He publicly blamed us for delaying the flight even thought United had delayed our flight for three hours!
In an earlier instance with United, we were careful to consolidate all of our carrry-on luggage as we boarded a United Airlines flight. When the United Airlines employee heard me tell my children to consolidate their carry-on luggage, she approached me as if she was a police woman, and told me that I had to pay $50 to check our carry on bag, because in her opinion, our carry-on item was larger than she liked. After I was forced to pay the additional $50, that United Airlines employee watched us as we boarded the plane and made sure we didn’t “dare” to carry on that bag!
In my opinion, what we went through with United Airlines was ridiculous! The planes, in both instances, were very empty and although we may have looked overloaded, we were traveling with the correct amount of carry-on luggage.
Figure skaters must travel with their skates, jackets, and competition clothing. Why is United Airlines so mean? I’ve flown Southwest Airlines ever since and have never had any problems or issues….
By the way…did you know that United Airlines also breaks guitars?
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