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new york, new york

November 27, 2012

In keeping with my need to control all aspects of my life, I’m sure it comes as no surprise that I will avoid checking in my luggage at all costs.

It is because of this that I have become an expert at rolling a week’s worth of clothes so they fit in a carry-on. It is because of this that almost every picture of me on vacation shows me in black and gray (they are the easiest colors to coordinate). It is because of this that I’ve mastered the art of sneaking my own items into Ali and Maya’s luggage.

(And since I have to pack both of their bags I don’t feel guilty about this.)

In any case, going carry-on only for a 5 day trip to NYC, as we did last week, is a piece of cake. But I made one fatal mistake on the return flight: I packed Maya’s coat in her pink polka dot carry-on so she wouldn’t have to coordinate carrying it on board separately.

Virgin America Agent:You’ll have to check the pink bag.

Me: But we brought the same bag from LAX to JFK with no problem. It’ll fit in the overhead compartment, I promise.

Virgin America Agent: Bring it here so I can ticket it.

Me: The reason it looks slightly large is because it’s bright pink. Plus I packed a coat in it. I’ll just take the coat out.

Virgin America Agent: It’s too late for that. We need to check it.

Me: It’s too late to take a coat out? That doesn’t make any sense.

Ali: I’m not sure you understand but 5 days ago we brought this exact bag from LAX to JFK and it fit with no problem.

Virgin America Agent: Well this is JFK.  And I said it needs to be checked.

Ali: But it’s the same plane and the same piece of luggage. How does the city we’re departing from make any difference?

Me: This is absurd.

Ali: I’d like to talk to the manager.

Ultimately the reasonable manager let us take a few things out so the bag appeared flatter, and then he let us board with the bag. Once we were on board we repacked the same items, and of course the bag fit in the overhead compartment with no problem. Just as it did on the way in to NYC.

So really, I’m not sure what the entire exercise accomplished? Except that someone at JFK felt authoritative for 5 minutes. And that our fellow passengers probably still hate us for causing a spectacle. And that despite a good few years, it seems that Virgin America is well on its way to joining the ranks of all the other crappy domestic airlines…

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103 Comments leave one →
  1. November 27, 2012 12:09 am

    Am I first?! AHHHH, so cool. How nice of you to have a hand in letting that employee feel all high and mighty. I think I would have spoken up in this instance too, nicely of course, but c’mon, just let me take out the jacket!!! I rarely fly, but if I could afford tickets to Hawaii I’d be there now.

    • November 27, 2012 7:38 pm

      The only reason I didn’t speak up more was because I was worried they wouldn’t let me board. Anything can happen!

  2. November 27, 2012 12:30 am

    Am I second?!!! 🙂 Alright, well- way to stand your ground. These types of people can be so hard to deal with. Today at Costco, I had my three year old sitting in the back part of the cart. I happily said upon checking out, “if you have boxes that would be great, thank you.” The helper to the checker came over and started in on this rant about how if I wanted boxes I would have to take my son out of the cart and that it’s very difficult to fill the cart when there are children in it. I guess she’s had some bad ecperiences but I thought it was obvious that I would take him out for her to put the groceries in?????

    Glad you got to spend five days in one of your favorite places!!!! And it doesn’t sound like there was any throwing up!!!!!!!! A bonus!!!! Take care Ameena,

    Shauna xoxoxxo

    • November 27, 2012 7:44 pm

      Costco scares the living daylights out of me. Costco during the holiday season? I can’t imagine. I hope you got your boxes Shauna…not sure why they have to make things so difficult!

  3. hcoving permalink
    November 27, 2012 12:48 am

    All the rules and restrictions with travel these days means that common sense usually is left out of the equation. You are smart to do the carry on. I prefer to check because I hate that whole jockeying for overhead space that goes on but that means that when things go haywire, like getting to Atlanta from Europe to find our flight home cancelled, I end up sleeping in my underwear, sleeping in my contacts, and being forced to use the hotel shampoo which makes for a glamourous look the next day. After having to do this twice in the last few years I now at least always carry on shampoo, a toothbrush and my glasses.

    • November 27, 2012 7:45 pm

      Hotel shampoo is the worst. Almost as bad as sleeping in contacts – which to me isn’t even possible! Not sure how you do it. My contacts drive me crazy every second I have them in!

  4. November 27, 2012 1:03 am

    I just got back from a five-day trip I broke down and checked a bag for and still felt like I didn’t have what I wanted/needed. You must teach me your art of packing. That or else I need to be less persnickety about have just the right clothes for every conceivable occasion with me…

    • November 27, 2012 7:48 pm

      My packing strategy for cold weather: wear black boots and a bright colored coat on the plane, and roll up 5 pairs of Splendid leggings, thin sweaters, tank tops, and collared shirts in black, gray, and white. Matching is so easy in this scenario!

  5. November 27, 2012 1:29 am

    Ooooh, we are in the same time zone now. 🙂 Glad you had a good time in NYC, aside from the VA rep. It’s so annoying when they become all bossy.. i’m telling you Ameena, I’ve been in CA for 5 days and the people here are SO much nicer than the east coast. It’s too bad all my family isn’t here, I would have moved in a heartbeat.

    Love all the restaurants.. didn’t you love Fig and Olive? I love Ilili. I have to try out Koi, looks very interesting. Lovely pic of you and Ali. 🙂

    • November 27, 2012 7:49 pm

      I love Fig and Olive (although I will say the LA location is better than the UES location), love Ilili, and Koi was tasty. Spice Market was a bit of a let down! But Tamarind came through for us (went there instead of Devi).

  6. November 27, 2012 3:23 am

    Your light travelling strategy is good and a smart way of doing things. As for the services at the airlines, well, on the few occasions that I have visited the States, I find the American airline staff to be very robotic and on repeat and very frigging arrogant.

    • November 27, 2012 7:50 pm

      Agreed. Not sure why American airlines are so unfriendly and dirty? I don’t seem to have so many problems on International flights.

  7. November 27, 2012 4:39 am

    Their flexing their athoritative muscles. What dill holes.

  8. November 27, 2012 5:06 am

    Thank God the manager was on your side!! And I hope he gave a little dose to that annoying agent. All the food looks really yum and it seems like Maya had a vomit-free journey!! Looks like she’s finally outgrown that phase :-).

    • November 27, 2012 7:51 pm

      She did have a vomit-free journey! Not sure if she’s outgrowing it or if it was because I let her watch TV the entire journey? LOL

  9. November 27, 2012 5:21 am

    I think the people who work at the airport prey on me specifically because I often look a little frazzled- so I deal with jerks like that all the time. I seriously hate flying.

    Also, I’m with you on always doing carry-on. It’s usually a weekend/week of browns or black… whichever I’m in the mood for. Because, you’re right, it’s all about coordination!

    • November 27, 2012 7:51 pm

      I doubt very much that you look frazzled. But me? I have my glasses on, my hair in a ponytail…things are a bit scary.

  10. November 27, 2012 5:43 am

    It makes me COMPLETELY CRAZY when people try to exercise their itsy bitsy bits authority for no other reason than being total jerks. I’m so glad you guys said something! Why does security have to automatically mean rude? Gah.

    • November 27, 2012 7:52 pm

      I don’t often encounter rude security agents, surprisingly the TSA are often super nice. But Virgin America’s flight/gate attendants are getting progressively harder to deal with…

  11. November 27, 2012 6:25 am

    It always amazes me that people have to feel like they’re in charge even over an inconsequential item! Glad it worked out. You need to tell us more about NYC…the food looks delicious!

    • November 27, 2012 7:53 pm

      You are so lucky to have all the great NYC food options at your fingertips! I recommend all the great restaurants we went to…Tamarind, Ilili, Koi, Fig & Olive, and Le Pain Quotidien is always a great option. Spice Market was just…okay.

  12. November 27, 2012 6:30 am

    Flying is the biggest pain in the @$$ there is! End of story. I was actually prepared to have the same discussion this weekend on my flight home. My bag looked kind of big but it fit in the overhead bin and didn’t take up more space than any other bag. Luckily, I wasn’t stopped. Glad y’all had a fun time and made it there and back safely!

    • November 27, 2012 7:54 pm

      Glad that your bag wasn’t stopped…not sure why there is so much inconsistency!!

  13. November 27, 2012 6:40 am

    I just think airports bring out the crazy in people. And I can’t tell you how many bags my dad has taken on the plane that don’t fit either in the overhead or under the seat in front of him. He usually just drapes a coat or blanket over his legs and the bag and pretends he’s sleeping.

    • November 27, 2012 7:54 pm

      Your dad’s strategy is brilliant! I think I’m going to try it. But that means that I’ll have to touch the airplane blankets, which I’m convinced don’t get washed after every use…

      Yes, I know I have problems…

  14. November 27, 2012 6:47 am

    ugggh what is it with airport employees? Recently I had to PAY to get my luggage changed from a checked bag to a carry on because the AIRLINE messed up my reservation. Not me, my print out said carry on, but theirs did not. I fought it as long as I could and then just gave up. It’s just absurd. I know they deal with some mean stressed out passengers and that must kill their patience levels but they should be nice until someone deserves meanness! ha

    • November 27, 2012 7:55 pm

      How does that make sense? I can’t believe they got away with it! But I can understand that at a certain point it’s just easier to pay for something than to keep fighting it.

      • November 28, 2012 6:28 am

        Yeah it was $3, and I didn’t want to miss my flight, so I got over it, but I was just angry on principle!

  15. November 27, 2012 7:20 am

    Ugh. That’s annoying. I’m glad you all held your ground though and didn’t let yourselves and your things get bossed around though.

    I had a similar experience at LAX a few years ago…. but it was before 6 am and I was tired and though I tried to hold my ground, the result was me throwing away 5 pounds worth of my clothing (which adds up to be A LOT!) though tears…. airport personnel can be so cold sometimes.

    As always, thanks for sharing and have a lovely day,
    Currie

    • November 27, 2012 7:55 pm

      You threw it away? I can’t even imagine. I’d be crying too…so sorry you had to deal with that, at LAX no less!

  16. November 27, 2012 7:32 am

    How annoying. Ugh. I hate it so much when do that. Don’t they realize that we are already part of such an unpleasant experience anyway. Way to make the passenger’s lives a little easier. Hope the short-lived power trip was worth it for this check-in person.
    Glad you had a great trip and sorry we couldn’t meet.

    • November 27, 2012 7:56 pm

      SO sorry we couldn’t meet…hope that you are doing better Sam!! Maybe December?

  17. thedelicateplace permalink
    November 27, 2012 7:45 am

    i learned many hard lessons and now i exclusively pack my life into my carry-on. glad you had a nice and safe trip! i have a funny story about a man who was trying to pass a piece of full blown luggage off as a carry-on when i was in prague. the attendant told him that it would not fit and needed to be checked. he threw such a temper tantrum that he exclaimed he would simply ‘take the wheels off’ the luggage so it would fit. LOL. i had to see this considering..who carries tools through security right? well. needless to say, mr. angry had to pay the fee and pouted all the way to paris!

    • November 27, 2012 7:57 pm

      The wheels? I love it. But seriously, I’m envious you’ve been to Prague! I really want to go there.

  18. November 27, 2012 8:12 am

    Yes, it didn’t make any sense at all. I’m good at packing the luggage but not a carry-on because I always have this nagging feeling that I might miss something so I always end-up overpacked.
    How’s New York City? Hope you had a fantastic time and will return again despite that Virgin America agent’s annoying attitude.

    • November 27, 2012 7:58 pm

      NYC was fantastic! Worth every second of Virgin America’s crappy flight! 🙂 I’d do it all again in a second…

  19. November 27, 2012 9:01 am

    I would never be able to fit everything into a carry on for the simple fact that I need too many hair products! So sad.

    I still love Virgin America. Unfortunately, assholes live and work everywhere – including JFK. Uggh.

    Kiran

    • November 27, 2012 7:59 pm

      I love Virgin Atlantic…but I’m kind of on the fence with Virgin America now. This is disappointing because I’d spread the word about how much I love their airline!

  20. November 27, 2012 9:08 am

    I wish I could hate you for these fantastic vacations but you are just to nice to hate! Plus, reading about your vacations is the closest I’m coming to a vacation so there’s that. I heart NY and wish I could move there 🙂

    • November 27, 2012 8:00 pm

      I’m really not that nice, but I’m glad you don’t hate me nonetheless! 🙂

      Please hop on a one hour flight and come see me in LA! I’d love it.

  21. November 27, 2012 9:53 am

    What a pain in the butt! I’m glad you didn’t let them get away with being ridiculous. I hear good things about Virgin America but honestly I don’t think it matters. Flying is just a racket and something to endure these days no matter what. You are my packing hero!!!

    • November 27, 2012 8:00 pm

      Flying is a total racket. Especially in the US. It’s just something you need to get through to get to your destination I guess….

  22. Jeena permalink
    November 27, 2012 11:36 am

    How incredibly irritating. I’ve had similar things happen, where I’ve had to argue, reshuffle things at the gate, and then adjust them back on the plane–it’s such an unnecessary pain. I think all airlines have that one jerk on a powertrip. And good for you guys for requesting a manager.

    • November 27, 2012 8:01 pm

      I’m my father’s daughter Jeena…the first words out of my mouth were “I’d like to speak to your manager.” 🙂

  23. November 27, 2012 11:37 am

    Wow..I usually like Virgin airlines…I think it was definitely the ticket agent wanting to feel and flex his authority.

    • November 27, 2012 8:01 pm

      I shouldn’t be so dismissive, especially since I’ve had more good experiences than bad ones…until now!

  24. November 27, 2012 1:02 pm

    Boo that is ridiculous, if it fits it fits. It should not be someone’s decision just clear facts.

  25. November 27, 2012 2:27 pm

    Seriously, call the customer service department and complain. You’ll get some free miles or upgrades because of it.

    • November 27, 2012 8:02 pm

      I wrote something on VA’s Facebook page. They told me to send them a private message, which I did. Let’s see if anything comes of it!

  26. November 27, 2012 2:27 pm

    impressed you got your way. Now tell me more about the food photos/what/where. Instead of seeing you I did a segment shot from a weird angle and I looked 50 and it ruined my Thanksgiving, wish we had hung out instead.

    • November 27, 2012 8:03 pm

      You never look anything less than perfect Lauren. Seriously.

      And the food was amazing. Couldn’t get a reservation at ABC Kitchen (They had noon or 2:30, neither of which worked) so maybe we can do that one together?

  27. November 27, 2012 4:28 pm

    On both of our flying vacations this year, I insisted on checking my luggage. Its not the duration – it’s the GIFTS !! Jus kidding, actually with my little one, there’s no telling when she’ll doze and boy, its an ordeal to get my luggage, handbag and hers and maybe help out Dad with the camera or backpack because he has those and a computer and he carries the sleeping child on his shoulders…….. yeah, you get the picture. Checking is easier for me/

    • November 27, 2012 8:04 pm

      Checking is easier…until things get lost/stolen! I am very fearful of that but otherwise I totally agree and understand what you wrote!

  28. November 27, 2012 5:43 pm

    Oh man, I always thought Virgin was different! You have to get over checking luggage if you want to bring back WINE. I’m over it (but we all carry our jackets).

    • November 27, 2012 8:04 pm

      I don’t drink so wine is no issue for me. A snow globe created a problem though once. It had to go in the trash. 😦

  29. November 27, 2012 7:55 pm

    I admire that you did not let it go!! Serious admiration Ameena and Ali.

    • November 27, 2012 8:05 pm

      We rarely let things go Anita…or should I say, I never let things go. 🙂

  30. November 28, 2012 10:24 am

    Somebody in Immigration had a MAJOR power trip with my husband who was there on business. His solution was to be ultra humble and keep repeating the same answer to the question asked a multitude of ways and they finally let him through. When I get really embarrassed is when they say, “You are in the United States of America” as if by their many words they will be more important. It makes me blush for my country sometimes.

    • November 29, 2012 7:41 am

      My husband has the same problem with immigration…even sadder is the fact that he was born in America and is a citizen! It makes me blush as well….

  31. November 28, 2012 1:14 pm

    I am glad you guys were able to talk to the manager and sort out the issue because whole checked in bags, extra cost etc does not make any sense to me. I hope you had a great together 🙂

  32. nadia permalink
    November 28, 2012 3:17 pm

    Fabulous!! All of it….totally drooling over your hot foodie shots!! can’t wait to get that pot of choc at fig and olive….i think you’re missing some fun shots of your room;)

  33. November 28, 2012 6:55 pm

    I have never gotten any grief from any airlines here in the US, but India…mmm..horrible. Even my extremely patient husband lost his cool with one of the agents at the Air France booth in Bombay.

    • November 29, 2012 7:43 am

      I remember our previously frequent trips to India and my dad (born and raised in India) losing it with the agents there as well. Talk about power trips!

  34. November 28, 2012 8:20 pm

    Wow, I’m totally amazed by this because I can’t believe the size of the bags I regularly see people carry on. And then they don’t fit properly in the overhead bin and the staff has to gate-check them. Or people somehow get onto the plane with 2 full-size carry ons, plus a gigantic purse, which, on the airlines I’m on, is not allowed.

    • November 29, 2012 7:45 am

      It’s amazing how people can get certain things on board but we can’t get a pink bag? Just proves how security is SO subjective.

  35. November 28, 2012 10:26 pm

    I think we all are looking for a little sanity these days and connection. Rules can distract us from real people and honest situations. And we use rules to power others and control them rather than interact with them.
    I am not surprised, but feel as our population grows and resources become more scarce that people will stop thinking for themselves (they won’t even be taught to!) and stop seeing others.

    • November 29, 2012 7:46 am

      I agree that as resources become more scare we will stop thinking of others…I find myself doing this! And it’s not a good thing.

  36. November 28, 2012 11:43 pm

    Wow that lady was on a major power trip! Especially given that you are traveling with a child, she could have shown a bit of compassion…but then again, that would be too much to ask for right! Virgin tends to be really good with customer service so perhaps send a complaint email…worse case they don’t respond! Lately I’ve only been traveling Emirates and fortunately I’ve only met with pleasant air hostesses…which makes me more inclined to continue traveling Emirates when possible!

    • November 29, 2012 7:47 am

      Virgin Atlantic is great but Virgin America is falling short these days. I flew Emirates once and I remember them being really nice!

  37. November 28, 2012 11:56 pm

    People in JFK are always rude. It almost spoils my trip to NYC all the time :-/ So glad to know that you stood your ground. I would have probably insisted twice and let it go… yes, I am a weakling.

    • November 29, 2012 7:48 am

      You are not a weakling! They are just taking advantage of you being nice. Ali and I are not so nice (or at least I’m not)!

  38. Asuma permalink
    November 29, 2012 2:33 pm

    Ugh. I feel your pain, Ameena!!! Some people at the airport could be pretty rude, also depending on the airport. In my experience, the female officers at the Hong Kong airport are the worst and the most cruel…. I have a 22″ carry-on suitcase, which is supposed to be the largest size allowed for most international flights, but most people at the airport just assume that it’s too large and try to make me check it in, so I have to tell them that it is the legally authorised size and ask them to measure it up. They just let me take it once they see the measurements do comply with the restrictions 😛

    • December 3, 2012 9:12 pm

      I’ve never been to HK before…but I am dying to go! I think that dealing with security will be well worth the trip. 🙂

      • Asuma permalink
        December 4, 2012 6:02 am

        Haha yeah, it definitely is a great place to holiday in!

  39. November 29, 2012 6:38 pm

    They really couldn’t make airline travel more miserable if they tried…except maybe if they left the windows out of the planes or something morbid like that. Enjoy New York. Eat lots of amazing food for me. Black and grey are great colors anyway, so I am sure you are looking fabulous. I am glad Ali was there to back you up…put that gate agent in her place!

    • December 3, 2012 9:12 pm

      I used to love flying…but I agree that it would be hard to make it more miserable than it is…

  40. November 29, 2012 10:35 pm

    I had the same thing happen and it’s really just nonsensical. I mean the bag clearly meets the measurements but the lady ‘eyeballing it’ says that it’s too big. So frustrating and you just feel stuck. I’m glad it all worked out for you. An exercise in seeing how much you can deal with illogical people?

    • December 3, 2012 9:13 pm

      I feel like I deal with illogical people all the time. After all, I live with a couple of them… 🙂

  41. November 30, 2012 11:19 am

    When not actually confronted by one of these people, I feel sorry for them…I mean, how pathetic does your life have to be to make you need to exercise this tiny bit of power to give you self-worth?? Of course, I am not particularly patient or understanding when one is doing his or her best to make my life miserable. 🙂 I’m glad that there was a reasonable manager around for you!

    • December 3, 2012 9:14 pm

      I’m not particularly patient or understanding either. Okay, I’m not patient or understanding at all! So yes, we lucked out with the manager.

  42. November 30, 2012 5:33 pm

    Having had my luggage lost on three separate trips, I go the carry-on route if at all humanly possible. It’s especially easy if you go somewhere warm, where less clothing is needed. And the “purse” I carry on with my small suitcase is a backpack.

    • December 3, 2012 9:14 pm

      3 separate trips? So I’m not just insanely paranoid about checking my luggage in?

  43. December 2, 2012 9:54 am

    congratulations for standing your ground. I always try to have carry-on only it’s just so much easier. Once you get past the occasional self important checkin staff. GG

    • December 3, 2012 9:15 pm

      Annoying, power hungry staff member aside, carrying on really is so much easier!

  44. caloricandcrazy permalink
    December 2, 2012 11:03 am

    Seems like airports are becoming just as frustrating as the DMV…the last time was at the airport, I was flying to a state in the Midwest from a smaller airport (and I just had a carry-on since I was visiting for ~ 3 days) and I had no problems 🙂

    • December 3, 2012 9:16 pm

      I luckily haven’t had to visit the DMV for a while but I expect that I’ll have a story or two the next time I do…

  45. December 3, 2012 3:03 am

    New York! 🙂 I’ve been there once. I really liked it and hope to visit again.

    • December 3, 2012 9:16 pm

      I love NYC! Nothing like it…hope you get there again soon too!

  46. December 3, 2012 9:09 am

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Glad you did, because I love yours..so witty & honest. You have inspired me 🙂

    • December 3, 2012 9:11 am

      Oops, I just realised I put my email in the website space..

    • December 3, 2012 9:17 pm

      Thanks Amelia…so nice of you to say so.

  47. December 3, 2012 9:31 am

    It never fails to amaze me how little people care about customer service these days. I think it’s a safe bet that the airline employee was in a bad mood that day and you were the lucky person that got to deal with it. I just love when that happens.

    • December 3, 2012 9:17 pm

      Customer service is (mostly) a thing of the past…

  48. emmymom2 permalink
    December 10, 2012 2:19 pm

    Seriously they try and do anything to make a little more money- it is so annoying! And yes once people in charge think they are right it is hard to change their minds.

    • December 16, 2012 3:04 pm

      I was surprised the manager agreed with us, honestly, I didn’t think it would happen! We were lucky.

  49. December 12, 2012 2:18 am

    I think sneaking in items into your husband’s and child’s luggage is every mom’s right. I do it all the time! And sometimes, airline employees just like to wield the stick because they are stuck behind a computer all day long. It’s worse with domestic airlines in India. Like, you could be one gram overweight and they’ll charge extra. Now I show my son off at check-in, so that they ease up a little!

    • December 16, 2012 3:04 pm

      I remember Indian Airlines…it was scary from beginning to end. For like 100 reasons!

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