Going Afar

My wife and I take very few vacations. When a friend was having a wedding in California a few weeks ago, we decided to take the opportunity to make a week out of it, and see some places out there that we'd never been.

The trip started to get interesting as soon as we went to check our bag (believe me, you're not going to be able to travel with a toddler without checking a bag). We got there, and we told that our bag was 19lbs over, and we needed to dump some stuff, or pay a $90 surcharge.

That surcharge being fairly ridiculous, and my wife having luckily thrown an extra bag into the suitcase, we pulled that bag out, and threw a bunch of things in it. After a couple of minutes, we had the big bag down to the maximum weight. We told him the extra bag was mine, checked that as well, and went on our way to the gate. When we got there, we checked our car seat (you can rent them along with your car, but they're way too expensive to rent for more than a day or two) and stroller, and got on the plane.

My point in bringing this up is just to point out how ridiculous the rules are. We ended up checking in probably about 100 lbs of stuff, plus another 20-30 lbs of carry-on luggage (we filled our quota there as well), without additional fees. And yes, we had a similar, but not quite as ridiculous, situation on the way back (them diapers are heavy). Oh, and that doesn't count the toddler herself, who's a bit more than 20 lbs as well (and was a lap-baby, so she didn't need her own ticket). The one way in which we weren't pushing it was that we aren't really heavy, ourselves.

I'm not sure how they should change the rules, but they seem pretty arbitrary. Checking two bags instead of one, in particular, is quite silly. Maybe they could help there by associating a bag with more than one person, and allowing it to go over one person's limit if so associated?

In any event, traveling with a toddler is certainly an adventure. This was our second time carrying our daughter on a plane, and the amount of stuff you end up needing to carry is really absurd. Happily, though, we got to San Fran without incident, although not without adventure. On final approach, we found ourselves frightfully close to another plane. Thankfully, there are two parallel runways, and we were going into different runways, but man that was close. Looking at Google Maps, they appear to be about 200m apart, and we landed only a second or two behind the other plane. That might not sound that close, but I can assure you, unless you fly into SFO on a regular basis, you do not normally find yourself that close to another plane while in the air.

I asked my dad about it afterwards (he was a pilot for many years), and he said that the pilots need to be certified for that, and they need to have slightly better-than-standard equipment onboard to land there.

I think I'll cut this here, and talk about more of the trip in separate posts.

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