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Thursday, 5 July 2012

Flying Easy-Jet

Flying Easy-Jet – from Paris to Copenhagen 

"Caveat Emptor" (ka-vee-ott emptor): it's a Latin expression for "let the buyer beware." Unfortunately, this buyer, moi, was not aware. I had not read the the Easy-Jet's ticketing disclosures about the number of bags and suitcases customers could bring.  And I had to pay for my negligence.

I had three pieces of luggage – a large suitcase, one carry-on and a handbag.  Flying American Airlines from LAX  (Los Angeles airport) was no problem.  Passengers are allowed to check-in up to 50 lbs. of luggage. My large suitcase weighed closer to 60 lbs. The officer at the counter said, "Ma'am, I can let you go a few pounds over but not 10."  He suggested I transfer a few items to my carry-on bag, and I did. This worked out fine.  

I later realized, after the security check, even at the boarding gate, we could check in another bag. Ah! how spoiled we are as Americans!  After this personalized customer service, I didn't even think to read through the rules Easy-Jet sent me after I bought an online flight ticket from Paris to Copenhagen. I had not realized when flying Easy-Jet I could only check in one piece of luggage up to 20 kilos, plus one carry-on, and THAT WAS IT.

It seems I'm more punctual as I'm getting older.  I arrived at Charles de Gaulle airport at 10 a.m., more than three hours before my flight.  I bought my last French baguette sandwich, which was called the American sandwich with ham and cheese.   After two weeks in Paris, 5 Euros for a sandwich no longer seemed expensive.

In the food court there was a McDonald's which was still serving breakfast.  So I also bought a ham & egg sandwich for 1.40€.  I love their breakfast sandwich. I thought I could have the baguette later when I got hungry again.  

After having my breakfast sandwich I headed to the check-in counter.  My big suitcase was exactly 20 kilos.  The problem was I had to pay for the extra handbag.  After adjusting a few things, and transferring a few things here and there, my handbag weighed five kg. I heard the officer say I had to pay 19€, and I thought, "That's not so bad."

It's not an exaggeration to say that I went into a great deal of trouble maneuvering myself and carrying all my suitcases to the cashier at the other end of the hall. Why do Europeans have such illogical ways of doing things? Why couldn't we pay at the check in counter?

At the cashier's I found out that the surcharge was 90€, not 19. For my ticket I had paid only 60€. Go figure! With much resentment, I paid the 90€. After the fact, I realized that I didn't carry anything of value equal to 90€. Hindsight is 20/20.

Even before that unfortunate incident, prior to arriving at the airport, I was thinking that I should have taken the train instead of the plane to Copenhagen because I would have had more time to write.   My cousin had advised me that the flight would be cheaper than the train trip. In reality, it could have been cheaper if I had read the disclosures.  In my case the flight turned out to be much more expensive.  But I don't regret it, because at the boarding gate I met a young guy and got into a conversation that will always stay with me. 

His name was Mohamed and he was from Tunisia.  That 26-year-old, who looked much older than his age, put forward a sage argument.  Mohamed at his young age was able to solve the mystery of the Existence of God.  My fellow passenger said, "In my heart, not in my head, I believe in God. And since my feeling is stronger than my reasoning, I say God exists."

Now when I think back to our exchange of opinions about religion, I cannot recall how we got into a discussion about God. On the airplane we sat next to each other, and he told me that he was part of the movement that overthrew the old government of Tunisia.  I should admit that I didn't know much about Tunisia.  I only remember that I had read in Time magazine that the "Arab Spring," as they call the recent revolutions of the Arab nations, had started with an incident in Tunisia. 

Mohamed brushed over the surface of their revolution.  He also told me how he loves Tunisia and he thinks that tunisians are the most intelligent of all other Arab nations.  He also told me about their beautiful  beaches and made me want to travel to Tunisia. 

Mohamed now lives in France and he has high hopes that soon one day,  everything in Tunisia will stabilize and he will be able to go back to his homeland.  He said, "The main problem of Tunisia is corruption and no opportunity for youth to have employment ."  He hopes the new government will be able to solve the problems.  

Unfortunately two hours was not enough time to learn more.  I gave him my information and asked him to follow me on my blog.  I'm not sure if Mohamed will read this post or not.  But I hope all Mohameds will have the opportunity to follow their dreams.  

The following is about the incident that brought about the movement of Arab Spring.  Copied from Wikipedia.                     

"Tarek al-Tayeb Mohamed Bouazizi (29 March 1984 – 4 January 2011; Arabic: محمد البوعزيزي‎) was a Tunisian street vendor who set himself on fire on 17 December 2010, in protest of the confiscation of his wares and the harassment and humiliation that he reported was inflicted on him by a municipal official and her aides. 

His act became a catalyst for the Tunisian Revolution and the wider Arab Spring, inciting demonstrations and riots throughout Tunisia in protest of social and political issues in the country.

The public's anger and violence intensified following Bouazizi's death, leading then-President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to step down on 14 January 2011, after 23 years in power. The success of the Tunisian protests inspired protests in several other Arab countries, plus several non-Arab countries.

The protests included several men who emulated Bouazizi's act of self-immolation, in an attempt to bring an end to their own autocratic governments. Those men and Bouazizi were hailed by some Arab commentators as "heroic martyrs of a new Middle Eastern revolution."

In 2011, Bouazizi was posthumously awarded the Sakharov Prize jointly along with four others for his and their contributions to "historic changes in the Arab world".The Tunisian government honored him with a postal stamp. The Times of the United Kingdom named Bouazizi as person of the year 2011."


  1. Katya, it sounds like you're having such an interesting trip! I hope you continue to meet more fascinating people.

  2. Glad that the interesting conversation was worth it all.

    I'm afraid most people do not see the competition going on between the air-carrier companies. Flying was once very expensive, but today you can get cheap tickets which only pay the gasoline used for the transport - and hopefully also the maintenancen of the plane.

    If you should ever stumble across the TV-docus "Flight Catastrophes" you will seethat many of those were triggered by the crew being anxious not to cause extra costs for e.g. accomodations for delayed flight-passengers.

  3. If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the relgion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.
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