Work/Life: Bringing Chaos Out of Order

American Airlines may rediscover in the most unwelcome way possible that the Law of Unintended Consequences is not only alive and well, but probably was invented in an airport terminal.

In fact, American may end up erecting a statue to that law once the full implications of their new first-checked-bag fee policy goes into effect on Sunday, June 15.

Think about it. Not about the $15 or more you won't have in your pocket. I've almost come to terms with that. Think of what's going to happen in those ticket and check-in lines.

Because what's going to happen is chaos. Chaos the likes of which you haven't seen since the carry-on liquids limit rule was adopted.

I don't begrudge the airlines having to take measures to pay for the increased price of fuel. I fully expect the airlines to pass along that cost. But isn't there a less chaotic way to extract an additional $15 from their customers?

The ripple effect will be felt everywhere. Chaos will descend upon online check-in, curbside check-in, the check-in counter, etc. What we haven't heard anything about to date is what process(es) American will be putting into place to actually collect $15 from each person who checks a bag. Somebody please tell me they've thought this through.

As a road warrior, it hurts my head to think about the time it will take to explain the fee to the clueless.

Think about the time too it will take to collect cash or make change or run a credit card -- and, with a couple of dozen people in line, heaven forbid it gets declined!

Of course none of those people are ever champing at the bit to get to the gate, right? None of them are ever about to miss their connection, right?

As for my own hometown airports of Fort Lauderdale and Miami, well, I don't even want to think of what happens when the thousands of cruise passengers (which is big business around here) try to head home toting their "mega-luggage," which typically consists of two or three gigantic bags.

Frankly, American Airlines, my nightmare isn't paying you $15 to check my bag. My nightmare is the 15 hours I am going to be spending in line to pay the $15!

How much chaos do you think American is going to create with its first-checked-bag rule?

Road Warrior • Miami • www.amadeus.com

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