Packing for United Airlines’ New Basic Economy Class

I am compelled to join the family gathering in Austin next week.  Who knows?  Could be the last time I’ll see these people.  I bought an airline ticket with my credit card service, spending points I’d earned charging everything from surgery to groceries, to laundromats.

The only surprise was discovering my ticket was “Basic Economy” (B.E.) and that United Airlines’ new policies for that cheap ticket are extremely restrictive.

On United Airlines, B.E. travelers are allowed a single “Personal Item” in which everything– clothing, toiletries, supplements, jackets, food, purse, paperback, and umbrella – must be packed.  It measures 9 x 10 x 17 inches! The carry-on I used for years is 23 x 8 x 14 inches.  And I did not have to put my tiny travel purse, paperback, and apple inside it.  That’s less than half the old carry-on size!

Everything must fit in that smaller space under the seat in front of you or you must pay to check the rest, plus a $25 handling fee.  My total would have been $110 for checking that carry-on round-trip.  Is it worth it?

Not to me.  I hitchhiked in Europe for a month and camped in Mexico for seventeen days with the same small backpack. And even traveling professionally, wearing suit and heels (!) for the college, I packed only a small carry-on.  Yes, that was so many years ago, but I did it then and I can do it now!

First, I bought the Dalix duffel on Amazon that meets the U.A. 17 x 9 x 10 requirement because I didn’t have anything that small.

Selecting clothes began with the decision between “blue” or “black.”  The “black” choice made it easy.  I’d wear the multi-colored hoodie from Nepal, black T- shirts, and jeans.  I’d wear the same thing coming and going, and pack a pair of knee-length jeans and three extra tees and undies for the five days I’ll be gone.  I’d sleep in the T-shirt I wore that day and take some PJ shorts (only because I’ll be staying in someone’s home).  I’ll roll them because they wrinkle less and take up less space.  Clothing is not the issue.

The difference between then and now is not only the limited “Personal Item” space but all the vitamins and supplements I now take daily.  I have two days to decide if I want to pack them, mail them, or just leave them behind for the five days I’ll be gone.  Leaving them behind requires an act of faith:  trusting that I’ll have energy, be able to sleep, and will not experience the lingering surgery pain (for multiple fractures in two bones) alleviated by those supplements.

Till next time, Please be kind to everyone you meet, for we all have our hidden sorrows. ~Tzaddi


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