The Saga Of “The Chair”

When I came back to Buenos Aires for this most recent trip, I was determined that I was bringing a Herman Miller Aeron chair with me.  Good office chairs are almost impossible to find in Buenos Aires or are ridiculously expensive, and I was pretty sure it would be nearly impossible to find this particular model.

Now, if you’ve never tried the Aeron chair, you may not understand the slight obsession I have with it. Suffice it to say that this is one of the most comfortable chairs available, and it’s made out of mesh, which means it is super-breathable as well. They are not cheap. New models can easily cost US $1200. But, when you spend 8+ hours a day in a chair, aren’t you worth it?  I’m a firm believer in spending good money on mattresses and office chairs.

Luckily, I found a like-new model on eBay for slightly less and had it shipped to my house in the States. I had previously called American Airlines to confirm that I could take this box on the plane with me, and they said I could – for a $100 third bag charge, a $150 oversize baggage charge, and a $50 overweight baggage charge. Ok, so $300 more to bring it with me – still a good deal in my mind. The chair arrived at my house with no problem, and I carefully opened the box to see if I could remove any excess items to get it below the weight limit. No such luck. I carefully repacked it, including putting the plastic straps back around the box that I had carefully slid off before.

On the day of my flight, I carried the chair out to my car. Crap! The box was too big to fit! Ughh… Undeterred, I went back in the house, unpacked the chair and then wedged the pieces of the chair and the folded box into the back seat and trunk of the car. Whew! It just made it. I then drove to a friend’s house in Boston where I was leaving my car and having him drive me to the airport.

Now, he had a pickup, so once at his place, I reassembled the box and put it on the back of his pickup. He dropped me at the airport doors and took off for a weekend in Vermont.  I piled my three suitcases, backpack and this huge cardboard box onto a smart-cart and wheeled them up to the airline counter.

“Where are you headed, sir?” the American Airlines agent asked me while peering at my pile of luggage.
“Buenos Aires via New York,” I replied as she started typing away.

She looked up and said, “Sir, there is no way that box is going to fit on the plane.”
“What? I called American Airlines and they said I could bring it with no problems! I just have to pay the charges.”
“Did you tell them that you were on a small commuter plane between Boston and New York? It will fit on the plane from New York, but not on your connecting flight,” she said.
“Yes, of course I told them that,” I lied.

She called someone else over who looked at the box and confirmed the bad news.  So, here I was standing at the counter with no one else around and wondering how I was going to make this flight.  I asked what my options were.

“You can drive to NYC and still make that flight,” she said.
“Ahhh…I don’t have a car and my friend has left for Vermont,” I replied.
“Let me see if I can get you on a flight to Miami and then connect to Buenos Aires,” she said as she started typing away. “Hmmm…unfortunately, it’s spring break and all the Miami flights are full. Let me look for something else.”

As I waited, I started to try and think about all the possibilities I had for myself and my chair. I could call my friend and beg him to come back for the chair, but that would mean leaving it in the States.

“Sir, I can route you through Dallas, but you’ll have to overnight there because the next flight to Buenos Aires is not until 7:30pm tomorrow.”
“I’ll take it!”
“You’ll have to pick up all your luggage in Dallas though as they cannot hold it overnight,” she told me.
“Ok, I’ll manage it.”

So, now my chair and I were going to Dallas. Luckily, she took pity on me and decided to overlook the excess weight charge of $50, which meant I could apply that to the hotel room in Dallas.  She then directed me to the TSA oversized baggage area, where I once again had to unpack and repack the chair. We put it on the luggage belt and I ran off to find wifi access so I could book a hotel room.

Luck was with me – I found a $49 room at the DFW Airport Hyatt on Priceline! I boarded my flight and arrived in Dallas with no problems. I picked up all my bags and once again loaded them on a smart-cart to go catch the shuttle to the Hyatt. The next day, I did the same thing to head back to the airport.  And, yes, once again I had to unpack and repack my chair for security.

The chair and I made it to Buenos Aires the next day and only one day behind schedule. At customs, I explained that yes, I was bringing a “silla oficina” (office chair) with me and I presented him with the receipt.  I had to pay 50% duty on any amount over $300, but the process was painless – you just walk to the bank counter near customs and pay cash for it.  My chair and I had made it to Buenos Aires!  We hired a van to take us to Laura’s apartment in Olivos.

So, I’m sitting here on my new Aeron chair and writing this to you. And yes, it is incredibly comfortable!

When I come back again in July, I’m bringing a 46″ Samsung LCD TV with me, but don’t worry, this time I learned my lesson and I’m flying out of JFK on a large plane.

ps – If you happen to know that they do sell Herman Miller chairs in Buenos Aires, and you know the price, do me a favor and please do not tell me.