Air France extortionate charges for charitable goods

bad airline

Those of you who know me well know that I almost always write upbeat blog posts and one of those will follow I guarantee. In the meantime can you bear with me and possibly even help me.
Is it fair for an Airline to ask for £350 in excess baggage when the baggage is for charity in a poverty stricken country? Isn’t this just a little obscene when the item does not cost even half that amount and weighs only 12kg? Doesn’t it defeat the object of giving when you have to pay someone else to do so?
This is our current situation. Can you help?

In just over four weeks I am visiting Cambodia.
My visit will include working at several charities. One of those is Medical Cambodia. This organisation spends much time searching for medical equipment for Siem Reap’s Referral Hospital. Donations are often made from different parts of the world and then taken by anyone who is travelling to the country on holiday or business. I am one of them. The supplies that have been donated and which we wish to take are to improve the health and safety of the staff in the hospital. A donation of 50 pairs of plastic shoes will provide protection for the staff who are not able to afford any alternative to their open sandals, from needles and bodily fluids and the resulting risk of infection of hepatitis, Aids and other blood transmitted diseases. Medical Cambodia have searched extensively and similar shoes cannot be purchased within Cambodia, hence the importance of us taking them.
We are also wishing to take donated clothes and toys to an Orphanage in Siem Reap Cambodia. The children of this Orphanage can be read about here.
We are flying with Air France. I realise we should have checked in advance that Air France would allow some dispensation on the size of the baggage when regarding charitable items. However we didn’t. We have never encountered a problem before and Medical Cambodia has received numerous donations in the past, and no airline has refused any request for an extension on baggage weight or size.
We applied for an extension and were immediately refused. After much negotiations where Air France would not back down we were then emailed that we would be allowed only the usual 20% discount only to have this withdrawn when they realised we did not have a direct flight. No amount of pleading has helped.
They say NO.
We cannot give them £350. It is the principle not the money. I would rather give £350 to the Orphanages and hospitals there. But for Air France to take money from us before it will allow us to put our charity goods onto their plane is nothing short of extortion. It makes a mockery of charity. They are basically making money from a poverty stricken country.
The piece of additional baggage that they wish to charge us £350 for is one large box weighing only 12kilo and measures 42x74x66 cm in size. This is what they arguing with us about…
If you disagree with them and agree with us, here is how you can help.
1) Tweet on Twitter ‘@airfrance u should be ashamed. Allow @lyndarenham to take additional charitable baggage for a reasonable cost to Cambodia #badairline’
2) Go their Facebook page and state the same there http://www.facebook.com/airfrance?fref=ts
3) Or email Air France and simply cut and past the below text to The General Manager. hehourcade@airfrance.fr
‘Please would you allow Lynda Renham-Cook and Dr Andrew Cook to take essential medical items to Cambodia on 15th March without charging them extortionate extra baggage rates? We feel this is disgraceful.’

Bald men, tattoos and dodgy stomachs.

So we have arrived in Cambodia and here I am tapping away at my keyboard while sitting in an air-conditioned room a million miles away from England. But, of course, things are never as idyllic as they sound are they? Not in my life, anyway. But, as always I digress. Here I am telling you about Cambodia when the getting here was much more interesting. Did I say interesting? I am certain there are better adjectives to describe our trip. Did I mention we are here only one day and my tummy is already a bit Dicky? Ah the pleasures of a break abroad. ‘Such fun’, as Miranda’s mum would say. Here I am digressing already. Let’s start at the very beginning it’s a very good place to start. Should I need to run from the computer for any reason, I will be sure to let you know. Why should I be the only one to suffer?
It all began on Friday evening when we learnt that our connecting flight had been cancelled. I am so pleased it was now, although I wasn’t saying that on Friday. We arrived at Heathrow airport with plenty of time to spare so I dived straight to duty-free as you do while Andrew sighs and wanders around the whisky that he has no intention of buying. Finally, we sit and wait and frantically look at the other passengers wondering who might be on our flight and whether he or she looks the type to throw their seat back or get totally drunk during a long flight to Bangkok. You know the sort of thing, the usual flight anxiety. We have all done it right? Then, you spot the lovely elderly couple and spend the rest of the time praying that they will be in front of you. We are joined by two young men who sit discussing the chocolate they have bought. A family size bag of kinder, and their favourites Jelly Babies which are indeed very moorish, so we hear. Well, these lads seem harmless if they only plan on getting high on sugar. They won’t be so bad as travelling companions. One claims he has never had so much chocolate on his person and is loaded down with Mars Planets. Well, this was not quite how I imagined the young lads who visit Bangkok to be like. We start to get a little uncomfortable when they are joined by another friend however, who they advise will be sweating it out before the day is finished and begin describing the side effects of a cold sweat. He, meanwhile sneezes all over Andrew while studying his box of night nurse. Not a great start. Still, they seem very clean living, all three of them. Oh, they are now joined by another who produces the latest magazines and they all get very excited. We smile good-naturedly. Boys and their football, we think. Until, out of the rucksack comes the most recent edition. The latest porno magazine it seems. Good lord. I suddenly realise why they are going to Bangkok and visions of a repeat of ‘The Hangover’ flit through my mind. One of them is getting very excited and says how he has never seen so much alcohol and cigarettes in his life. I can’t help imagining that Bangkok has been quite an eye opener for him then. Finally it is time to board and I find myself praying that the elderly couple will be our nearest travelling companions. We board on time and everything is going well. Too well, I hear you say. A nice young Australian is in our row and Andrew introduces himself and they get chatting very quickly. I watch with trepidation as people walk down the aisle and finally three bald-headed men with tattoos approach and my heart is in my mouth and almost jumps out onto the floor when they take the three seats in front of us. Oh no, just what I had been dreading. 12 hours of noisy drunken tattooed men. This is turning out to be quite typical of a Lynda Renham-Cook holiday. I turn to Andrew who just smiles and continues talking to his neighbour. Great, what is the betting I get the one who throws his seat back, laughs raucously and causes scenes? Yes, I am a great one to exaggerate. But, hey listen, I know my holiday history.

‘Long fu**ing flight ahead then, so I’m going to fu**ing kip, the whole fu**ing way. I’ll probably take a fu**ing pill and fu**ing die.’

He says and I think this sounds like good news for me… and almost say.

‘Can you fu**ing take it soon please.’

Not that I wish anyone to die, well maybe just this one passenger.
And we are off and taken care of by lovely gay steward Cameron and his mate Jasper. Amazingly enough Mr ‘I’m off on fu**ing holiday’ literally does sleep the whole journey and fortunately doesn’t die either. What a stroke of luck I hear you say.
The whole journey was a stroke of luck, in fact. We arrived in Bangkok ten hours later where our connecting flight had been cancelled and we were to catch a later one. What a stroke of luck. It took us well over two hours to find our luggage, get through passport control and customs that we would never have made it had our flight been on time. Finally after numerous passport and security checks we arrive in Cambodia and are met by my stepson and we take our first ride in a Tuk Tuk and go to our accommodation in Siem Reap. More to follow…
PS The dicky tummy turned into very bad Cambodian belly, If there is such a thing. Oh, it was not ‘such fun’ at all…