Woman Trapped in Airport For 8 Days Over Baggage Fees

A California woman who was tripped up by unexpected flight fees spent eight days trapped in the airport after she couldn’t pony up the cash for the unexpected charges.

You may find hidden or last-minute fees to be an inconvenience, but what if you didn’t have the money to pay an addition to your fare and had no choice but to travel? That’s the situation Terri Weissinger found herself in when she attempted to fly last month with US Airways. Weissinger- who was, at the time, from Sonoma County- packed all her earthly belongings and left for the airport with $30 in her pocket and the dream of a new life.

Weissinger’s dream, however, only went as far as San Franscisco International Airport. As she attempted to check-in- her first flight in five years- she was told that she needed to check her bags at a cost of $60, more money than was available to her. She called friends and relatives, but no one was able to assist her in coughing up the cash so she could get on the flight.

US Airways “declined” to let her pay the fee on arrival, and said she couldn’t leave her bags behind, which would be- according to the airline- a safety risk. Predictably, Weissinger missed her flight- and the situation only got more bizarre and awkward from there:

That’s when things started to get truly Kafka-esque. To get a new flight “she’d have to pay her bag fees plus $150 in change fees,” [ABC Correspondent Michael] Finney notes. Without a place to stay nearby, Weissinger stayed the night at the airport. She awoke to more bad news: U.S. Airlines explained that, since she couldn’t pay a change fee, she’d have to book a new flight from scratch. That would run about $1,000.

Thus began Weissinger’s eight-day ordeal in the airport- perhaps Barbara Bush would have said it was “working very well” for her- kicked off, with US Airways refusing to budge on letting the woman fly with or without her bags. Eventually, an airport church kicked in the $200+ fees to get Weissinger to her final destination. A US Airways rep said:

“We have apologized to Ms. Weissinger, but unfortunately are unable to offer a refund. When you purchase a non-refundable ticket, you accept the terms and conditions. If a passenger cannot travel with their bags, they need to make other arrangements.”

Do you think the situation could have been handled more compassionately, or should Weissinger have “planned better,” as some commenters have suggested?