Carrying a Lot of Baggage… (my trip to LeWeb)

Just arrived in Paris from SFO, via Air France for LeWeb. A lots of “firsts” in the trip for me personally: First Leweb; First trip to Paris/Europe, First TransAtlantic flight. At LeWeb, I’ll be at the Seesmic booth and will be involved in a couple of sessions.

If you happen to read this and packing for LeWeb (especially if you’re staying longer in Paris), here’s my experience – mostly in preparation at the ticket counter. While the flight experience was very nice (very helpful flight attendants), I had a very interesting ticket counter experience that tested my patience: I got hit with overweight carry-on baggage.

According to the Air France baggage allowance webpage. You are only allowed 1 bag total (for economy peons, like me). What they didn’t include on that page was information on the carry-on. That information happens to be under “Hand Baggage.” This, of course, I didn’t catch as I was in the middle of packing.

Being the noob European traveler, I discovered that some ticket counter people at Air France were very strict about baggage weight. 23 kilograms (50.6 lbs)  for check-in. 12 kilograms (26.4 lbs) for carry-on. I was trying to carry on 4 laptops to be used for a combination of the Seesmic booth and the presentations for LeWeb and my check-in bag, although very small and compact, was 22 kilograms – and I swear, the ticket counter was going to call security on me. My smiles that worked on previous check-in experiences were not at all effective here.

Extra baggage costs $50. Extra weight would have costed more, but they wouldn’t even allow me to pay for the extra weight. I ended up having to split my laptops, have one of it wrapped (there’s a wrapping service in the middle of International SFO for $7).

I could have lied about not having a check-in bag, but they were tagging check-in bags, as well. I couldn’t tell you if attendants were checking- but I probably would have gotten busted if I didn’t have the “I approve this carry-on for this flight” sticker.

At first I thought the ticket counter attendant was singling me out, but I had seen another ticket attendant escort a person with their bag to be measured in one of those cabin baskets that (I thought) no one really uses (“Sorry, sir, but that bag is too big…”). Then, as I waited for the attendant after I re-adjusted my baggage, I turned around to see Iene Koehler was in line and had the same issue – and also ended up re-adjusting her baggage.

After that fiasco, everything was perfectly fine! It was quite the pleasant coincidence to meet and connect with another LeWeb participant. I also bumped into Phil Jeudy on the same flight. Along with Irene, I ended up hitching a ride with another LeWeb attendee, Myriam. She was a big Seesmic supporter and is very involved in the Paris tech scene.  Talk about your silver lining.

So, word to the wise if you are planning on bringing a lot to your flight to Paris – watch your carry on weight. See you at LeWeb!

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