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Carry-on baggage discrepancy causing a serious issue


Michael_A
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Well, I finally got an e-mail from AOV directly to me!

 

This is the first and so far only one since I started communication with them in January 2023 regarding a January 2024 booking. In the ensuing months I inquired specifically about luggage limitations on their charter flight. These (and all prior communications) were done through my TA. On all occasions, I was given assurance that the luggage limitations were as posted on their website, which as of today have not changed.

 

Why is this so important to me? Well, I do unsponsored travel videos, some I have done with other cruise lines have racked up over a million views. I do not get paid for this, I do it because I love to do it, i have the means to do it, and the lines that I have featured have been very appreciative of this (after the fact, of course). As a result, I do travel with a lot of video and photo gear. I am respectful of the weight limitations AOV have posed and pared down my gear accordingly to where it will meet their published, and confirmed, weight limitations on my respective trip (EZE to Ushuia & return).

 

Now... here are the limitations I have been working with, that have been confirmed on three separate occasions, and as of this posting are STILL on AOV's website (you can see them for yourself on the FAQ page regarding charter flights):

 

 

AOV.thumb.jpg.ce9d452a0776938006191a278011f062.jpg

 

So I get a email from AOV today, as I mentioned above, that NOW states the carry on limit is 10 lbs. That is ridiculous. Especially after they confirmed earlier the weights posted on their site were correct. AND it is less then even their fly across the Drake limitations which are pretty severe (I get it. Really. I am a commercial pilot amongst other things).

 

Now this may seem like a small thing... maybe in the grand scheme of things it is. But it's pretty damn important to me (as a photographer and videographer it's the main reason for doing this trip) and I am quite upset that they now disclose a completely different condition in their email (which arrived just within the 120 day cancellation period, BTW) that contradicts what they previously stated and confirmed and STILL HAVE POSTED ON THEIR SITE. I feel this disclosure AT THIS TIME AFTER HAVING RECEIVED CONFIRMATION EARLIER is tantamount to a "bait and switch" and am so pissed about this I do not think this trip is salvageable, for me anyway. If I can't take even a minimal amount of gear needed to produce images and videos, what's the point?

 

In all honesty, communication with AOV has sucked, and this "surprise" is likely the last straw. I have to ask myself, this is supposed to be a VACATION, and I am continually dealing with a lack of communication, their inability to nail down basic details, and now THIS! Hell, it's easier to book, take equipment, and shoot videos in Afghanistan under live fire!

 

If you are a photographer or video guy, you can understand clearly why I am so pissed. You would be too. You MAY be about to be pissed as well if you were planning on taking anything other than a cell phone on these trips!  And I am certain if you are a serious photographer or videographer you are NOT going to baggage-check your gear! Several other lines I am now talking to that are doing Antarctica cruises are more accommodating to photographers and videographers and "get it" and are willing to make accommodations, not outrageous ones, even beyond their stated weight limits due to the exposure they garner from these images and videos. Perhaps I will further those discussions, but for right now this whole experience has left a pretty bad taste in my mouth and I am considering just being done with Antartica, AOV, et.al.

 

It remains to be seen if this can be equitably resolved, and I will post an update (with a link to the video that will be produced if this indeed is the summary action with AOV) but the standard caution applied:

caveat emptor

 

 

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There were weight limits on our charter flight to Longyearbyen last month, nobody ever checked the weight of our carry on bags. I repacked into a backpack since my carry on is always over 20 lbs. In the end it was not enforced. Cannot say what they may do for Antarctica. Best of luck.

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Resolution forwarded to me from my TA:

 

"Good Morning XXXXXX,

 

Please be advised that the carry-on luggage limit is in fact 10 kg (22 lbs) and not 10lb as stated in the letter your client received yesterday.

 

I apologize for the error in printing, thank you for bringing it to my attention, and we are in the process of fixing it at this time.

 

I will be sending you a revised letter, shortly after this email, with the correct information on it.

 

Thank you for your continued business with Atlas Ocean Voyages,

 

XXXXXX"

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Most of the world has carry on weight limits, the U.S. is the exception. I have gotten used to that as I have traveled. What ticked me off wasn't the fact there is a limit, it's that Atlas changed it to a considerably lower value without any notification and in contradiction to the values stated on their website that would pretty much preclude the camera gear I was planning on taking, thus not making the trip worthwhile at all for me. As you can see in their reply, they have restated again the maximum carry on weight.... from an original 17.5 lbs, to 10 lbs, now to apparently 22 lbs... though their website still states 17.5. Oh... and the Argentine airlines sites (that they charter with) are stating between 12-14 lbs. Sigh... I am hoping the actual cruise is as good as people are reporting because the front end hassles I seem to be encountering with them has all but put me off completely.... So... the weight limit COULD be:

10 lbs;

12-14 lbs;

17.5 lbs;

22 lbs;

OR... ignored completely....

OR maybe not....

😖

 

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On our expedition Aug.06 R/T Longyearbyen, many passengers had very high end cameras with tripods and extended lens.  The SAS staff that checked us in at OSL. did not check the weight of any bag.  However the passenger load was not at capacity.  In South America you may find that they are very strict about carry on and checked bags.  50lbs. Checked and 20 carry on, does not includes your "personal bag."

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I have received an email from AOV for my Nov trip and here's the limit:

 

Due to strict airline and destination requirements, the maximum allowed weight for all checked bags is one 50 lb. bag and one carry-on of 22 lbs. per guest.

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  • 1 month later...

Dear Host Jazzbeau,

I am responding to your “clickbait” comment after much deliberation and with all due respect. I realize I am a guest on this forum, and you as a moderator are in charge of keeping the discussion relevant and on track. However, I do take exception to my originating post being swept into the category of “clickbait” and will expound on my rationale as to WHY I originally posted it to clarify both my intent and AOV’s response.

As I have mentioned, I am a photographer and videographer. I, as do many travelers to Antarctica, plan on bringing gear. Antarctic travel does precipitate a different set of conditions than one may encounter when traveling to more “regular” locales. In the case of Antarctic travel it is the necessity of a separate flight, in my case a private charter, from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia, as arranged by the cruise company, Atlas Ocean Voyages. I am sure other lines make similar arrangements.

Atlas clearly posts the carry on luggage allowance of 17.5lbs. As I am sure you are aware many if not all photographers are unwilling to check expensive camera gear through regular airline luggage. There are numerous accounts of theft and damage and prudence dictates that this gear necessitates transport via carry on.

For a dedicated photographer trying to follow the rules this makes for a challenge to pare down equipment to meet that carry on limitation. Even a casual search on Antarctic photography reveals often repeated advice that one should carry two camera bodies and a recommended selection of lenses and accessories that will easily exceed the stated carry on limit. Some of this advice is even promulgated by the cruise lines themselves on their websites! Indeed, it would be most upsetting to arrive with the recommended kit only to be told that this valuable equipment must now be checked, incurring the risks I mentioned earlier.

Now, as I mentioned, Atlas clearly stated their limitations and I have done my best to abide by that and will. I have inquired repeated times about this limit and received confirmation in writing regarding this. I feel I have done as much due-diligence as possible in this situation that I am fully willing and able to respect and abide by.

However, it was upsetting to say the least that less than 48 hours after full payment was made the ONLY direct email I received from Atlas had in writing a weight limit for carry-on baggage that was greatly reduced to 10 lbs. This is significantly less than the restrictions for flights that overfly the Drake passage, and well below prevailing industry standards, and even significantly less than the published allowances on Fly Bondi, Arecolines Argentina, and other charter carriers.

 This limit alone was enough for me to consider cancelling this trip. As a photographer/videographer it totally negates even a minimal amount of gear for such a trip, and the changing of the limit without any notice or without even posting any update of the new limitation on their site and choosing to reveal it in documentation presented only after final payment can certainly smack of a deception at worst or sloppiness at best. If you purchase something with a stated quantity, and that delivered quantity changes only after you have confirmed that purchase, it would certainly seem to match the American Heritage Dictionary definition of “bait and switch” which reads as follow: A deception based on a false claim or enticement that proves to be disappointing.

Having said all that there were some heated discussions with my TA and Atlas to clarify this issue. As I posted in a later closing entry, I was told that Atlas mistook a limit of 10 kilos for 10 pounds, and in fact the limit is supposedly 22.5 pounds. A number that works in my favor, but is now in contradiction with what Atlas still has posted on their FAQ pages. Does this resolve the issue? To Atlas’ credit, they did get on it once the argument was presented and appear to have rectified the situation, though they still haven't corrected their website.

In closing, this is a cautionary tale for anyone considering a cruise such as this. It is a substantial outlay, and it is certainly not conducted as a “regular” cruise would be. There is fine print, and occasionally there may be errors. It pays to read the fine print, and to catch these discrepancies if any. The only one who can truly uphold the interests of the booked traveler is the traveler themselves and while reading the fine print, disclaimers, contract of carriage, etc. is not particularly glamorous or fun, it is eminently worthwhile for any traveler to do and insure they are getting what is being advertised, expected, and paid for.

The true value of a forum like this is the ability to communicate, share experience both good and bad, and educate potential travelers. I feel that within this experience, regardless of the “clickbait” label, the thread may have encouraged this to happen, and at the end of the day aren’t ALL form headings, headlines, and advertisements “clickbait” in a philosophical sense?

As I stated earlier, I know I am a guest here. If you truly feel this thread only offers sensationalist causality for the sake of clicks and doesn’t communicate a relevant point along the lines of “reading the fine print” or “buyer beware” so be it. I do not have the power to delete this thread; you do. However, in doing so do consider you may be doing other forum members a bit of a disservice.

One last item… I’m not flaming Atlas. No indeed. If I was I would have cancelled by now. I didn’t and am not. Indeed, you can see my other posts and communications including queries to James Rodriguez in your July subsection that I have maintained my cautious optimism and enthusiasm for this line for a considerable amount of time. Yes, Atlas has it’s growing pains. As a consumer I (and any of us) have a right to point out issues or problems, be constructively critical while at the same time supportive, and give the vendor an opportunity to "make it right" as Atlas' appears to have done. Some of this process deserves to be illuminated so they can be put on a path of rectification which I believe this thread has helped to do and future customers have the opportunity to both learn from my experience as well as see how it was resolved - winch is perhaps more telling of the character of a vendor than anything else. They acquitted themselves equitably, and that is very much to their credit.

Respectfully,

 

MJA

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In the same spirit of respect:  your originating post was not called 'clickbait.'  I only applied that term to the title of this thread, which I still believe is at best careless and at worst libelous.

 

I do not edit threads without permission from the author.  I still feel that you should request that the thread title be changed into something descriptive but not inflammatory.

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  • Host Jazzbeau changed the title to Carry-on baggage discrepancy causing a serious issue
2 hours ago, Michael_A said:

Thank you for clarifying.

Might I suggest "Carry-on baggage discrepancy causing a serious issue"?

Feel free to change it; I don't think I have the permissions to do so...

Thank you.  Title changed.

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  • 3 weeks later...

After my TA ran interference I get ANOTHER email from AOV correcting the earlier email and now the limit is back to 22 lbs. 🙄If you are hauling camera gear, best to check those emails from AOV as your trip approaches so you're not caught out and having to check your gear at the airport.

Like I mentioned (and documented) earlier:

The weight limit COULD be (and seems to change between):

10 lbs; (stated in their first email that caused a meltdown)

12-14 lbs; (for the fly across the drake expeditions, though 10 lbs is also referenced)

17.5 lbs; (which is on their website)

22 lbs; (which was their correction for misinterpreting 10 kilos for 10 pounds in their first email)

OR... ignored completely.... (as some have reported)

OR maybe not.... (as the airlines state)

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This is what our email from Atlas states (our chartered flights are EZE-USH with Fly Bondi which is the discount airline):

 

"Due to strict airline and destination requirements, the maximum allowed weight for all checked bags is one 50 lb. bag and one carry-on bag of 17.6 lbs. per guest."

 

I am betting that the carryon limit is either 17.6lbs or 22lbs depending on if it's Fly Bondi or Aerolinas Argentina, assuming the airports are EZE-USH.

Edited by ShopperfiendTO
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9 hours ago, Michael_A said:

image.thumb.png.99d4bcfc20ee214edce33a026ea3962e.png

 

This is identical to what we received from AOV on Oct 10 for our early Dec trip.

 

For comparison,  the weight limits for our Aerolineas flight from EZE to Puerto Iguazu (domestic) are: 17# for carry on and 33# for checked luggage.

 

I read somewhere that AOV used Aerolineas for the charter flight before.  Some documents might be outdated causing the confusion.

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I apologize if I missed this in the earlier posts. I understand it's a 50# checked bag and 17# carry-on. My question is about a personal item. For example, Delta allows one carry-on bag and one personal item (i.e. laptop bag, backpack) Is the personal item allowed on Fly Bondi?

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Atlas does state a "personal item" is allowed (and do not specify which of the charter carriers), and do not define exactly what that is or if it subject to a weight limit. I think you will be fine as long as your personal item doesn't resemble a 60 liter backpack or something....

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I'm not a photographer at your level (Lumix 1000Mk2 1"-sensor with Leica 25-400mm lens is fine by me), but I did obsess about the published carry-on limits for our Odysseys-Unlimited trip to the Chilean Fjords.  The flights were on Aerolineas Argentinas and LATAM, and had strict weight limits for both checked bags (33 lbs!) and carry-ons.  In the event, they did weigh the checked bags and charged overage fees [which Odysseys-Unlimited paid for us] – but no one made a move to weigh the carry-ons or personal items.  So it was a non-event.  [I realize that this can't allay your fears, but it is at least a small bit of info that things may work out ok.]

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Confront them on it... especially if you received a document earlier with an increased weight limit. I have had to twice through my TA, and both times resulted in an amended document with a stated limit of 22lbs. I fully expect to have to do it several more times before the sail date....

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Or you could do what I do:  pack what you need and want, show up at the airport, and be willing to pay overage if they actually weight your carry-ons.  So far, while my checked luggage has always been weighed, my carryons have never been.  So this entire thread is probably a lot of tsuris over nothing.

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