When Sonoma County resident Teri Weissinger showed up at the San Francisco International Airport with nothing but her luggage, a plane ticket to Idaho, and $30, she had no idea she'd end up spending more than a week there. What the hell happened?
As ABC Newsman Michael Finney explains it, Weissinger checked one bag too many and incurred a $60 fee that she couldn't pay on the spot. She hadn't expected the fees because her itinerary failed to mention them. For security/terrorist-related reasons her airline, U.S. Airways, wouldn't let her abandon one of her bags at the airport, and they also wouldn't let her pay the fees once she got to Idaho. So she missed her flight, which resulted in another fee. Then U.S. Airways told her she had to buy a brand-new ticket, which cost $1,000. And this is how she became trapped in the airport.
For eight days Weissinger wandered the corridors, slept on the floor, and generally felt like the star of a remake of The Terminal—minus the peanut can (we assume) but with some extra Kafkaesque elements (for example, she was nearly arrested for vagrancy...like being there was her choice!). She also had to be treated for anxiety. If it weren't for the generous parishioners of the Airport Church of Christ, Weissinger might still be stuck there, rooting through the trash for discarded Auntie Anne's pretzels and half-consumed soda pops for the rest of eternity. The Churchgoers put up $210 so she could cover the baggage fees and the missed-flight fee and make it to Idaho, to escape her airport jail and begin life anew (we have no idea why she chose Idaho but we respect her decision).
Since Weissinger's ordeal, some new federal rules have gone into effect that require airlines to disclose on their websites all their sneaky hidden fees. So if all you Poors out there can actually read, or do basic math, you can avoid getting trapped in your local airports. But if you can perform neither of these tasks you might actually want to bring along your peanut can so you can beg your way out of there if necessary. Just go stand by the church or chapel and hit up those bleeding hearts before they head toward the food court. [ABC]