Is Honesty Always The Best Policy?

I arrived at the airport yesterday, as I mentioned in an earlier post, for a flight that marked my 2 millionth mile flown (and that’s with zero mileage runs, it’s all been business travel.) Charleston, SC is a very small airport and since I’m here a lot, I know most of the US Air agents. While I was checking in, I noticed that the man next to me was checking an awfully large bag that was a puke green color. The color’s what really caught my attention. I couldn’t imagine how much the overweight bag fee would be let alone what the fee would be if there were an ugly bag fee.

After going through security I discovered that my 4:30 flight was delayed until 6:30. After grabbing some snacks and a drink, I went over to chat with two of the US Air agents I know. As we were chatting, a man came up to ask about switching to a flight that wasn’t delayed. One of the agents started helping him and told him there would be a $100 change fee and he became pretty obnoxious. At that point I noticed that he was the same man who checked the puke green bag. After some back and forth, he agreed to pay the change fee. The agent asked if he had checked any luggage and he said NO!

I was sure that she’d see something in his record that would alert her to the fact that he was lying. I stood ther there, quietly listening. I was shocked, he was able to change his ticket.

Five years ago I may not have cared, but now, something felt different. The man, who clearly had bad taste in luggage, didn’t appear to be suspicious, but then, neither did the Boston Marathon bombers. Now, I’m not saying this man was a bomber or anything like that, but we live in a different world, a different time.

I decided to say something to the agent. I told her that I had watched him check a bag. She looked at her computer and typed in a few things and sure enough, she saw a baggage record attached to his ticket. The agent quietly called airport security who arrived with TSA agents in tow. Charleston is so small that it only took them about 3 minutes or so to arrive. The agent pointed out the man and they began talking to him. It was pretty hard to hear what they were saying, but it was clear that the man was unhappy.

The man’s bag was taken off the plane and he was escorted somewhere to be questioned. I said to the agent who I know best, “I feel kind of bad.” She said, “You shouldn’t feel bad. You did the right thing. There’s a 99.9% chance that he’s just some guy who wants to get home and lied. But it’s not worth the risk of that .1% chance that he’s not.”

She was right. It’s not worth the chance. So, yes, in this case, honesty is definitely the best policy. He should have been forthcoming and speaking was the right thing.

What would you have done?


14 Comments on "Is Honesty Always The Best Policy?"

  1. Agree with the agent – not worth taking the .01% chance. However, I also find it disconcerting that they could freely change the reservation despite there being a checked bag even if he says no. It seems like there should be something that prevents them from making the change if there is a baggage record associated with a reservation.

  2. I would have done the same thing. Don’t feel guilty!

  3. You did the right thing.

  4. Perryplatypus | May 5, 2013 at 4:37 pm |

    I think you did the right thing and I hope he got charged the overweight fee the second time. Better to be safe then sorry.

  5. I think a better question might be this: Had it been a polite man or woman in professional business attire and good taste in luggage (by your standards), would you have done the same thing?

  6. @Scott, the man was in professional attire and the suitcase probably was very expensive as it was brand name. So it really had nothing to do with appearance.

  7. @Perryplatypus, I agree, you can’t be too safe these days.

  8. Got we he deserved for being rude and lying. Well done.

  9. Kudos to you! You absolutely did the right thing. I agree with Craig; it is worrisome that he could just lie and, had you not been there, have gotten away with it. Next time you see your agent friends, see if they know what happened. I’m curious how the story ended.

  10. I probably wouldn’t have said anything, then worried through the entire flight that we would all be blown to smithereens. Makes you wonder where the word ‘smithereens’ comes from.

  11. Why are you feeling bad? I’d do the same thing in a heartbeat. Remember the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing? Kudos to you!

  12. Aptraveler | May 6, 2013 at 6:37 pm |

    I would have done the same, better safe than sorry, I say.

  13. We all need to follow,your lead now! Bravo!

  14. We all need to follow your lead now. Bravo!

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