Baggage weight: the airlines are serious

You hear all the time about extra fees for snacks, blankets, additional luggage, but you hear about it so much, that it's easy to tune out and forget -- the airlines aren't kidding.

My wife packed our suitcase for our recent trip from the Indianapolis airport to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, and she had done a masterful job cramming every item we believed we needed for our vacation into one piece of luggage and one simple carry-on. However, I can't blame her for what any experienced traveler can already guess happened. After all, she was nice enough to do the packing, and I lugged the luggage to our car. I had a fleeting thought that maybe it was too heavy, but then like a wisp of smoke, my worry was gone, replaced, I suppose, by something more substantial.

I'd like to think my mind was on the ongoing crisis in Darfur or the new one between Russia and Georgia, but if I were truthful, I probably suddenly wondered if our airline would be serving any snacks, or I began thinking about the rerun of Law & Order that I had watched the night before.

So we get to the checkout counter at the airport, and we learn that our piece of luggage is overweight. I don't remember how overweight. I just remember hearing the words, "That'll be an extra ninety-eight dollars, sir."