Saturday, July 13, 2013

Grown Man Cried Over Excess Baggage Payment



I have had few funny encounters when I was working as a passenger handling officer with KLM at the airport and after so many years, I still vividly remember this particular one.

In the 80s right up to the 90s, video recorder which was first introduced to the consumer market by the Japanese I believe was the 'in-thing' then and one particular model stood up, the Panasonic brand.  The demand for Panasonic video recorders from the India market was phenomenal, every flight that was bounded for India sectors could see an Indian passenger checking in the video recorders and stretching their 20 kgs baggage allowance to the limit or beyond.  Fuelled by such insatiable demands in vast India market, enterprising traders wasted no time sending out the video recorders via the fastest means by tapping on the passenger baggage allowance instead of sending via cargo means.  Indian passengers were offered commission for carrying the video recorders on behalf of these traders.  The traders were doing a roaring business with the video recorders.

Our flight to Amsterdam via Delhi was no exception.  On any of our typical departure via Delhi, we had more Indian passengers to Delhi than to Amsterdam and our flights were mostly overbooked.  At the check-in counters, it was usually mayhem when these passengers tried all means to get away with excess baggage payment and we really had to stay firm handling them.  One male Indian passenger thought he was smart.  I was on duty at the counters.  He was travelling with his family and from the first look, I knew they will have excess to pay later.  When he placed his baggage including his video recorder on the weighing scale and at the same time he placed his feet in between the little gap to lift up the scale.  In doing so, the weight will be greatly reduced.  I am aware of this old trick.  An inexperienced check-in staff will not notice it as the baggage that was placed on the weighing scale will block his or her vision.  I pretended I did not notice his action and went about with the tagging of his baggage.  I deliberately took a little longer time to process his check-in and there, he was still using one of his feet to lift up the weighing scale for the longest possible time.  He was struggling with it, the weight reflected on the screen was jumping up and down.  I was smirking inside me.  I had already recorded the actual weight before he placed his feet on the weighing scale.  When it was done, I handed him the excess baggage payment that he needed to pay before he can get his boarding passes.  Shocked, he went on to tell me that he had no excess but why must he pay for it.  I looked him in the eyes, pointed on his feet which was still holding on the weighing scale and he knew what I meant.  His ruse was exposed and he started to plead for leniency.  With two hands folded and held near at chest level, and at the same time, twisting his head ala 'Indian fashion', he kept begging for leniency but I was adamant.  Then, in his final desperate attempt, he cried in front of me.  Yes, it was real tears that flowed out but I did not bulge.  Had a woman cried in front of me, I could have relented I think but a grown man??? It actually back-fired on him and in the end, he had to pay up or miss the flight.  This is one lesson taught to him for trying to act smart in attempt to get away with excess baggage payment.

After sometime we could find our job scope rather monotonous but as front liner, we encountered different situations which actually made our job rather interesting.  More to follow...              

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