Passenger Solicited For Bribe At Atlanta Airport Check-in Counter

A passenger checking in at the Atlanta airport reported being solicited for a bribe to avoid the overweight fee on a checked bag. He’s incredulous, despite the bribe offering a significant savings.

To be clear this would get an airline employee fired. An airline could easily look up photographer Kollin Benson and see whether he was traveling on one of their flights out of Atlanta on Friday – and which agent checked him in. There are plenty of cameras in the airport to verify this as well.

In any case, avoiding overweight bag fees is almost literally what sky caps (who do work in part for tips) are for. Too bad American Airlines has eliminated curbside check-in at so many airports, any reports on the outsourced vendors where it remains?

Twenty years ago a good sky cap made $100,000. It’s underappreciated the extent to which airlines have captured the money people were willing to pay for bags through checked baggage fees.

If you’re four pounds over the limit, I’d take a few items out of the checked bag and shove them into a carry on and into my pockets. I’d see if there was extraneous wrapping or cardboard to dispose of. All the while I’d be holding up the line.

And if I were just a smidge over the limit and an airport agent decided to enforce overweight fees, I’d file a complaint because odds on the scale’s accuracy hadn’t been tested in the immediate past – and with all of the bags on and off of it, getting slammed up against it, there’s a good chance the calibration was off.

It’s no surprise that this story comes from Atlanta, whose airport is among the most corrupt in the nation.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Also worth noting that you may want to try HUCA (the face-to-face version!:)

    Once at EWR, checking in at the premium check in area of United in Terminal C, I had an agent that for some reason was a total hard a$$, and wouldn’t let a couple of pounds slide.
    Normally, I would have just opened the bag and take out a couple of stuff to put in my backpack, but didn’t feel like it that time.
    She hadn’t tagged anything yet, so I went over quickly to the ‘non premium’ check in area, there were no lines, and just dropped my bag – surprise, surprise : they just took the bag, no fuss.

  2. Folks, overweight bag fees aren’t just a money grab. They exist to protect people, who do physical labor of handling bags, from injury and stress related to hauling big and heavy loads.

    If there’s something you can pack in a carry on instead of checked bag, you should do that ahead of time. But it’s a very common practice to hold up the line when shifting contents between checked bags. That makes it an acceptable practice. Anybody complaining about it is selfish. They want somebody ahead of them to pay extra money, so they themselves can reach the check-in counter sooner. That’s the definition of selfish. Checking in at a counter is a slow process and it’s incumbent upon travelers to arrive with plenty of time to spare.

    I hate people who think the world should bend over so they don’t have to be inconvenienced. If you’re so important, you would be flying private and not even standing in lines.

  3. However I do believe airlines should have scales available to customers BEFORE the check in lines, so customers can take care of the baggage weight prior to reaching the check in agent. That is a good solution. Still, f*** impatient people who want others to pay checked bag fees when they could simply transfer contents between bags.

    F*** impatient people in general, I suppose. The only people I get out of the way for are First Responders. Everybody else can wait their damned turn and quit rushing others.

  4. Impatient people typically were not loved enough as children, so they take out their impatience on the rest of us as adults.

    We healthy well-adjusted adults like to accommodate others because that’s the courteous and respectful thing to do. But if you’re going to make me pay a checked bag fee then F*** YOU!

  5. “Folks, overweight bag fees aren’t just a money grab. They exist to protect people, who do physical labor of handling bags, from injury and stress related to hauling big and heavy loads.”

    If that were true then airlines simply wouldn’t allow bags over a certain weight. But they do so no one is being protected.

  6. @Steve if you have ever seen a heavy tag, you’ll see two people handling the bag as the graphic.

  7. My wife and I usually have one item–a bag of books, shoes, etc. in the “heavier” suitcase. If things run over the limit we can quickly shift that to the other one. But I’ve just got my hand scale fixed so maybe this will be a non-issue. Incidentally, the agent at Sun County once noticed I was just slightly over the limit and said to fix it, which I did. According to her, the line keeps a computer track of all the weight readings and matches them with fees so she couldn’t let it go. I wonder if that was true and if so whether it is particularly common.

  8. Hey Steve: Our friend AS above is a troll, whom you took seriously. My favorite part is about how you should be glad to have to stand in line longer since you don’t fly private. That was actually pretty funny. The rest? Not so much. Gary usually gets better trolls, honestly, and they only have to post once, with their best stuff the first time around.

  9. Tom didn’t pass reading comprehension in second grade. I never said you should be glad to stand in line longer. I said if you are important, then you fly private where you don’t stand in lines. If you’re standing in line then you wait your damn turn. If the check in agent is just shooting the sh*t and wasting time, then you have beef. But if the passenger ahead of you is trying to save money then you suck it up and be patient.

  10. I don’t post sh*t based on whether some Dick, Tom, or Harry thinks it’s funny.

  11. As a skycap at ATL I take offense to this article. Where are your facts that skycaps make $100,000 a year? Or is this just something you heard and are repeating without research. Most if not all the skycaps at ATL make $2.13 an hour plus tips. This wage has not gone up in over 25 years. Plus the fact that the airlines in no way, shape, or form promote the fact that skycaps ARE TIPPED EMPLOYEES! So before you make a statement on the salary of someone do the research. And as always when using curbside service please tip the skycaps that is HOW WE MAKE OUR LIVING!!!!

  12. @Actual: I was thinking the same thing! If we had to lift hundreds of bags a day and each one was only 1/2 lb over, it’s like water torture, it would be a disaster physically. You raised a good point. When did we become a society thinking g the rules don’t apply to ME?!

  13. I wonder where he got the idea that bribes to a corporate employee in exchange of free company stuff is OK.

    Oh, probably from one of the “foremost experts in the field of […] business travel”:

    Unethical and morally corrupt.

  14. Well…since there is a footprint on everything that we do. When that agent is jobless, because I have a feeling that this will open a Pandora’s box that Gary may or may not (I’m going to lean towards the former, because he’s messy)……she’s going to think “Something told me to skip this one

  15. Kimberly, you have a way with words. A way to string them together into incomprehensible sentences. Seriously there are immigrants with thick accents who write English as a second language better than you.

  16. The real reason Airlines weigh baggage is to not add additional weight to the plane. A pound or to adds up if one considers the number of people on board. It’s a good idea, however, there should be a little bit of flexibility when one is over weight by a pound or two.

  17. Given the high inflation caused by the current administration, everyone is just looking for a source of additional income. As with hotels extorting “resort fees” to earn revenue off the tax ledger, crafty employees are just extorting “bag fees.” Maybe passengers caught trying to carry a gun on a plane by the TSA should be extorted for “gun fees.” Realize that TSA and gate agents do not have to have college degrees so they are not getting their $10-20,000 bribe from the administration.

  18. When airlines had large page count airline magazines, I removed one from my luggage to get under the limit and saved $50.00. I requested the check-in clerk to discard their airline magazine in their rubbish.

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