Aside from the melancholy of leaving Budapest, my home for the past 8 months, the experience of checking in overweight baggage at the airport was a nightmare.
I knew my suitcase was a little over the 23kg limit, but I had no idea just how heavy it was.
It was 30.1kg.
I could have cried, but I was too angry – with myself, for allowing it to get to that point, for too much shopping and present buying and shoe purchasing over the past 8 months. I had already sent home 12kg of stuff via the postal service, which came to about $170 AUD. I sent it in 2kg lots, as this meant I did not have to declare the value of the goods and pay extra for compulsory insurance.
The British Airways check in desks opened at 12pm, for a 2pm flight. We were one of the first in line, but a large group at the front of the queue was obviously having some difficulties, so our queue was not moving an inch. After 50 minutes in line, we were finally served, and we were one of the last. My bag weighed in 7kgs over the limit and I was given the option of repacking (with an hour to go before take-off, a cling-wrapped, busting-at-the-seams suitcase and a full carry-on bag…. I don’t think so) or paying the excess. It was expensive – so expensive, in fact, that I do not wish to publicly disclose it, because I am ashamed to say that paying that amount was easier for me than sitting in the middle of an airport, pushed for time, sweating and stressing and throwing things out into a bin.
Probably nothing in my suitcase is worth the amount I paid – in fact, the suitcase itself it not worth that amount.
I was sprung with an extra British Airways surcharge, plus a charge per kilogram. The check in lady put it through as 6kg over the limit, not 7.1kg, and I then had to go to another desk to pay the surcharge. A computer error prompted the second woman to call the first and suggest the just put it through without requesting payment, but the first woman wouldn’t budge. The second lady (a very sweet woman who was so apologetic) had told me an hour before the check in desk opened, that a few kilos over would not be a problem, and my carry-on luggage would not be weighed. At this stage I still thought that my bag was about 25-26kg… alas, how mistaken I was. (And how inaccurate my scales were last night.)
So, we got to the airport at 10.30am for a 2pm flight, keen to check in first in case there were problems, and ended up the last to check in, the last to board, in separate seats and with a severely injured credit card. Not to mention the mad dash through security, B being scanned because he’d left 2 luggage lock keys in his pocket as he passed through, mixing up our laptops (more on that later) and bolting through to passport control.
Passport control were quick to point out that we had both “over-stayed” our visas, at which point I produced my residents’ permit, and B produced his Hungarian passport. They asked him, “why don’t you just travel on this?”… It’s a long story…
We ran to the departure gate, sweaty and stressed, wondering what on earth had taken us from potentially being the first at the airport for our flight to the last. Airport staff lady number one was at the gate and said that one of the ticketing staff members wanted to speak to us. As it turns out, the plane had been delayed coming in from London, and we were not boarding at all, despite the screens telling us before passport control that we had 4 minutes to departure time.
Turns out the ticketing lady, whom I paid for the excess baggage, needed to write me out one more receipt so that when we travel with Qantas, they don’t charge me again.
In Heathrow, whilst going through security into terminal 3, where I am currently writing this from and fuming quietly, in the rush to get through, B left his laptop in one of the tubs and didn’t realize until at least an hour later. When he rushed back to get it, it turned out it was MY laptop, after our mix up.
We have now just received a message on Facebook from B’s cousin to say that one of the packages I sent home to my mum (to myself) has turned up at B’s aunt’s place in Nyíregyháza! I put her address as the return address and now it’s gone to her and not Australia! I paid 6500 Hungarian forint per package, so I hope they don’t have to send it again and pay for it. And it better not happen to every package I sent home either.
Talk about angry and stressed in transit.