The setting is Berlin Schönefeld Airport at 5:30 a.m. on a weekday in mid-June, 2015. Jessica had been on a bar crawl until an hour and a half previously, had made the mistake of napping for half an hour, and now felt like absolute hell.
As she squinted in the sunlight starting to filter in through the windows, a lovely airline worker announced to the line of passengers that they would only be allowed to carry one item onto the flight with them – which means not a small backpack and a small suitcase, which were the items Jessica had with her. Most of the flights she had taken on her eight-week European jaunt were with another airline that allowed two carry-on items if they both met the height and width requirements.
Jess and her five travel companions had read this airline’s baggage requirements online previously. Four of her companions had decided before they got to the airport that they would check their bags, so they just threw them onto the conveyer belt when they went through security. Jess and her friend Elena, however, are #TeamCarryOn all the way, and decided they would just “figure it out at the airport.”
So, here they were in the airport very shortly before their early-morning flight. When it turned out that the the airline indeed only allowed one bag, as their website said (rolls eyes at self), Jess and Elena started maniacally trying to see if they could squeeze their backpacks into their suitcases and still meet the weight requirements for carry-on luggage.
(Spoiler alert: they could not.)
After a solid ten minutes of squishing and cramming, Jess and Elena were told they had to check their suitcases, which would cost them €70. On top of that, the line to check bags was so long that waiting in it would absolutely ensure that they missed their flight.
Jess and Elena’s companions started lining up for boarding without them. In a burst of panicky genius, Jess asked the airline worker if she and her friend could take out all of the clothes they had in their suitcases and wear them on the flight on top of the clothes they were already wearing. This way, she thought, their suitcases would be lighter, and they could bring them on the plane.
The worker chuckled and said “Sure, if you really want to.”
So Jess and Elena began to pile on jacket after shirt after dress after shorts after skirt while both lines of passengers watched in amusement. They were each wearing four layers and sweating profusely when the attendant, who hadn’t quite stopped chuckling, said the suitcases were fine now and they could board their flight.
So wearing almost all of the clothing they had packed with them, and Jess holding her toiletries in a straw hat she’d picked up in Ireland, the two arrived safely in Amsterdam with their friends, without having to pay an extra cent for luggage.