Continental vs USAirways
Both now charge $15 to check the first bag. I packed for carryon and since I had a nonstop flight from Cleveland on Continental, opted to handle my own bags on the Florida bound trip. It was morning and a small meal of cereal, a banana and muffin was served, along with coffee and juice, still free of charge.
I knew I would be boarding two separate flights on the return trip, however, and didn't want to have to wrestle my bag into two different overhead compartments. At 5 foot 3, I am somewhat vertically challenged and flight attendants aren't always willing to help.
On Sunday, I wanted to hang out on board the Solstice for a couple of hours since my return flight didn't leave until 2:55 p.m. But I was told everyone had to be off the ship by 9 a.m. so it could be readied for that day's arriving passengers. Shuttle buses to both Miami and Fort Lauderdale airports awaited at the ship's Port Everglades terminal as passengers disembarked.
I attempted to get on an earlier USairways flight but was told that everything was booked and overbooked. A sign informed me that the airline would not accept bags until two hours before the flight.
When I finally was able to check the bag , I was afraid I might be charged the $15 fee twice for each leg of the trip. But I paid once and my bag was checked all the way through to Cleveland. I was a little concerned that the bag might not make my second flight, which left Charlotte just 45 minutes after the flight from Fort Lauderdale arrived.
Fort Lauderdale Airport is impressive in the way it handles thousands of passengers on a Sunday - the day cruise ships arrive and depart at nearby Port Everglades. Many cruise passengers are elderly and a fair number are in wheelchairs, which complicates the security process. But my impression was that the necessary procedures are completed with grace and efficiency by both the TSA and the passengers.
Once on board my flight I discovered USAirways charges for everything. Coffee is $1, bottled water and soft drinks are $2, and beer and wine cost $7. There was no food offered, although I noticed several passengers brought sandwiches purchased in the terminal. In order to lighten the load and save on fuel, USAirways has eliminated beverage carts. Flight attendants bustled up and down the aisles during both flights, refilling coffee cups. Refills apparently are free.
Diswmbarking both flights was a super slow process since it seemed as if everyone carried their bags onboard to avoid the fee. When i got to my gate in Charlotee, the Cleveland-bound flight had begun to board.
Everything went as it was supposed to and my bag arrived when I did, although I was $15 poorer for having checked it.