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Unfair Oversized Baggage Policies

Explorer C

Recently my wife and I traveled to PHX, Departing from MCI and OMA on two different dates, flying with identical rock climbing equipment referred to as bouldering crash-pads.

Essentially, a crash pad is a large piece of foam used to protect climbers from ground falls while bouldering.  Each pad weighs 10 lbs and closes securely with simple and clean metal buckles and folds down to 36" x 24" x 8" for hiking, 68" total. Over the allotted 62" inches, but the buckles compress the to an even smaller side as well as the foam losing expansion over its lifetime.

We both left our respective airports, with the Sky captains taking the pads at both MCI and OMA with no hesitation. 

A few days later COVID19 hit the US hard, and we were forced to leave our vacation early, changing flights 2 days early as well as losing out on refunds from Air'BnB. In extremely dire and rushed circumstances, we made it to the PHX airport that day after a 3 hour snow storm drive out of Flagstaff. When we went to check our luggage, our crash pads became an issue. With one bag agent ignoring the size of the pad my wife was checking in and another agent treating me totally different. She measured my pad at 63" inches and charged me $75. At that point, the agent in charge of my wife's bags went and talked to her supervisor and then came back later and said she would have to charge us, even though she looked right past it being an issue earlier.

I emailed customer service to which I got this response:

We ask our Employees to consistently enforce our baggage guidelines; therefore, a Customer should be asked to pay $75.00 even if the item is one pound overweight. There are some cases such as the one you experienced where our Gate Agents and Customer Service agents waive the fee for our customers as a Gesture of Goodwill depending on the circumstances.


I found that response extremely insulting, it can be paraphrased in my opinion as: 

We are sorry we didn't charge you the first time.

To some degree, I agree. Because had I known that our items would incur the fee and qualify for restrictions when we flew out, I could have mailed them since I had time on my side. I could have planned to mail them back home as well. However, in the rush of avoiding the worst traveling experience the economy has seen since the likes of 9/11, I did not receive the gesture of goodwill that Southwest speaks of. I received it traveling to our destination, but not returning, when my wife and I were as panicked and nervous as every other American trying to make it home safe.

Southwest picking and choosing their Gesture of Goodwill was an attempt to nickel and dime a collapsing industry. We fell victim to corporate greed. We were assured one way that we were going to have another enjoyable SW flying experience, but when profits were at risk, SW bared its teeth and showed it's true nature.

Setting up a standard of "It's up to whoever is nice when you get to check-in" sets realistic travel expectations for flyers, and when all hell broke lose last week, it made for one of the worst flying and SW experiences I have ever had.

When I called the customer relations number attached to bottom of my case, the final result of the phone call was "The decision was already made there is nothing we will change". Another upsetting practice is that you can't have communication with someone when you open a ticket, the first response back is the resolution, there is no chance to converse. I wish I would have known that. Case number 2314167617397


Re: Unfair Oversized Baggage Policies

Aviator A

Sorry, but this is not a case of Southwest doing anything.


It is a case of employees on you outbound flight not enforcing policy, while those on the return did. Uneven enforcement of policy causes problems every time. I see it when an obviously over sized bag is allowed as a carry on vs those times that I've seen bags rejected.

Same thing with the military boarding policy (in uniform vs. not in uniform).


You got lucky once, but not the second time. It really is as simple as that.


PS the baggage rules are clearly stated: oversize items incur a $75 charge.

Re: Unfair Oversized Baggage Policies

Explorer C

I would disagree.

My complaint is not that I got charged for something that was over-sized, albeit hardly.

My complaint is that Southwest set up poor expectations by allowing me to fly out one way, for free, then charging me on the return. Like I said in my original post - had I known they were going to charge when checking in at either MCI or OMA, I could have adjusted by shipping beforehand and planned accordingly.

The part that dissatisfies me the most is that Southwest says that sometimes they will extend gestures of goodwill, but failed to extend it when we needed it most - which was at the initial outbreak and panic of COVID-19, I think it's a completely audacious response given the circumstance.


Yes, my luggage was 1" over in measurement (when unweighted, at room temperature).  But seriously? It was foam. It only gets smaller in every situation except for when it's sitting out, with nothing in proximity to it making it more compressed. 

Re: Unfair Oversized Baggage Policies

Aviator A

So, you don't think the rules apply to you?


As I said in my first response to you, you got lucky once, but not the second time.


That's like getting pulled over for speeding and getting a warning. Then getting pulled over for speeding another time and getting a ticket and telling the cop: "that's not fair. I got a warning the last time I was pulled over."


gimme a break...


edit ad: would you feel better about the situation if you had been charged $75 on the outbound flight, too?

Re: Unfair Oversized Baggage Policies

Explorer C

I've said this twice now, I am not sure what you are not grasping.

Yes, if they were tell me on my outbound flight "This will cost $75" I would have been much happier.

Because I had time on my side, I could have shipped them. Then on my return trip, I would have not been in the situation I was in because I could have adjusted my shipping/travel knowingly.