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May 30, 2010

Europe 2010, The Road Trip: Air Canada

Filed under: Europe 2010, France, MTB Travel, Road Bike Travel, The List, Travel — anotherheader @ 5:54 pm

Richard Serra's "Tilted Spheres" inside the Terminal 3 of Toronto's International Airport

Our 65-day road trip in Europe this summer stands to be our longest journey ever.  A trip that was initially conceived in a much simpler form rapidly evolved into a logistically complex operation.  Bringing the bikes without doubt added to the challenge.  And viewing the map of our European route with a kid in a candy store, “We can go there too” mentality didn’t make things simpler.

Becky, waiting for the car inside Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris with our mass of bags

Usually we start packing hours before we depart.  This time, with the bikes and all, we started three days in advance.  We still were pressing to finish up our bags in the wee hours before our early morning departure.  After passing into the “We will have to sleep on the plane” stage, everything, well, almost everything, ended up packed.

Thanks to Patty for dropping us off at the airport.  Inside, at the Air Canada check-in counter, we wrangled our bags to the counter.  The count was impressive—two bikes in their boxes closing in at 60 lbs, 3 additional pieces of checked baggage ever so carefully loaded to each be within a pound or two of the 50 lbs maximum, two pieces of carry-on luggage (one overweight, if Air Canada had bothered to check), a computer bag, and a day-pack.  At this point I usually point out that are large array of bags was related to Becky’s penchant for bringing along a large portion of her elaborate footwear collection.  Too many shoes was certainly a factor, but the truth is that 70% of the checked baggage was bike related stuff.  As we had learned in New Zealand, taking bikes along on this sort of trip is a real challenge.

It all fits in the back of the Renault Kangoo

The particulars of the luggage had been carefully researched at the beginning.  Air Canada was chosen through the combination of airfares and baggage fees.  It helped that Air Canada’s website said that, as Silver and Gold Star Alliance members, we could check 5 bags total, each less than 50 lbs.  The two bikes, being oversized, would count as two checked bags and cost an extra $100 each way.  But as we watched our bags weigh in at 49.0 lbs, 48.3 lbs, 49.1 lbs, Air Canada’s counter attendants assured us that we had it wrong—we were only allowed 4 bags in total.  We argued but to no avail and they charged us extra for a bag that should have gone for free.  Indeed, a later recheck of Air Canada’s website indicated that the gate agent was wrong.  Perhaps we will be able to get this fixed in the future.  Who knows?

At least this incident inspired me to write the very first song that I will admit to penning.  OK, maybe it’s not a hit.  And maybe I didn’t so much write it as re-write it.  So, without further adieu and to the tune of “Oh, Canada!” I give you my new song, “Air Canada”:

Air Canada!

Our bags are in your hands!

Our Visa card for your misstep you will demand

With glowing hearts we see thee raise,

The wrong and painful fee!

From far and wide,

Err Canada, we stand in rage for thee.

Oh take our handbags for a fee!

Err Canada, we stand in rage for thee.

Air Canada, we stand in rage for fees.

Serra's sculpture functions as a whisper chamber

At least Air Canada’s Maple Leaf Lounge, with its free pour for yourself bar, is open at no charge to Star Alliance Gold members.  This is definitely a nice little travel perk.  The downside is that we figure we’d have fifty bucks worth of drinking to do just to break even on the extra baggage charges.  And there would be big price to pay for pounding down fifty dollars worth of liquor during our layover.  This last charge would not be payable on a Visa Card.

The original O Canada, to remind you of the tune:

O Canada!

Our home and native land!

True patriot love in all thy sons command.

With glowing hearts we see thee rise,

The True

North strong and free!

From far and wide,

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

God keep our land glorious and free!

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

O Canada, we stand on guard for thee.

"Tilted Spheres"


  1. Addendum:

    Air Canada did eventually resolve the baggage charge issue and refunded the total luggage fee which more than we asked. They were pretty responsive to our complaint, as airlines go.

    Comment by anotherheader — November 29, 2010 @ 6:50 pm

  2. […] return on Err Canada, as Homer would say, was uneventful.  Well, mostly uneventful.  We were detained at US Customs at […]

    Pingback by France: Beaune « Another Header — March 1, 2011 @ 6:16 pm

  3. […] In San Francisco, the rotating museum displays are worth a visit on their own.  Toronto has “Tilted Spheres,” a cool art installation with interesting acoustics by Richard Serra.  Frankfurt has vanishing […]

    Pingback by Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport « Another Header — December 19, 2011 @ 3:22 pm

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