Woman sleeps in airport after baggage fee row

AAP Image/Tracey Nearmy

All of us get frustrated by added extras many airlines seem to add to the cost of our flight, but at San Francisco International Airport, Teri Weissinger got quite a shock after her airline demanded a further $60 from her to check in her bags.

Hoping to start a new life in Idaho, Ms Weissinger arrived at the airport with nothing but an airline ticket, two bags and $30 to her name. But when she tried to check in with US Airways, she was told she needed to pay a further $60 in order to check in her luggage.

Ms Weissinger said the last time she took a flight, five years ago, checking in luggage was still free. "$30 would get me there, so I thought," she told a reporter from KGO TV in San Francisco. "Now it's $25 for one bag, $35 for another bag."

She explained to the airline that she had no money and asked if she could pay upon her arrival in Idaho, but says the airline refused. She even offered to leave one of her bags behind, but the airline said this was against security rules.
"I started making phone calls to everybody I knew," said Ms Weissinger, but she eventually missed her flight. "I thought I might have to stay there, so I found a little stairway and I lay on the floor and slept."

The following morning she was told that she must buy a new ticket for a flight, and ended up wandering the airport for days, before being treated for anxiety at the airport's medical clinic. She says she asked the police for help but was nearly arrested for vagrancy.
After eight-days, her ordeal was ended when members of the airport's church raised $210 so she could board a new flight.

A spokesperson for US Airways said: "We have apologised to Ms Weissinger for her experience, but unfortunately we are unable to offer a refund. When you purchase a non-refundable ticket, you accept the terms and conditions. If a passenger cannot travel with their bags, they need to make other arrangements."

A recent study by Amadeus, a travel technology provider, last month found that the total revenue airlines receive from "extras" will total more than £20 billion in 2011 - a rise of 44 percent.
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