Christmas means traveling with two bags. I arrived at the airport for my first experience in this checked-baggage-not-included world. To my surprise, they have not installed cash registers at the ticket counter! So how does a guy who uses a credit card only for large purchases check luggage on Delta Air Lines? Follow these easy steps:

  1. Identify yourself to an automated kiosk.

  2. When prompted for number of bags to check, touch “1”.

  3. The next screen asks you to swipe your credit card now to be charged $15. You never said you wanted to pay by credit card, so touch “cancel.”

  4. When prompted for number of bags to check, touch “1” again.

  5. When asked again to swipe your credit card, call for human assistance. Ask where the cash option is.

  6. Human will advise that the only way out is to choose “0” bags (an option now helpfully labeled “Free!”).

  7. Approach counter with bag to check. Identify yourself to counter agent.

  8. Agent will scan boarding pass 3–5 times before declaring it unusual that the computer will not permit her to check your bag. Wait for a supervisor to reach the same conclusion before asking, “Is it because I declared zero bags at the kiosk?”

  9. Agent will accompany you back to the kiosk to modify your check-in.

  10. Agent will advise you to again select “1” bag, but this time to answer “yes” when it asks whether the luggage contains sporting goods, live animals, dry ice or firearms, even if it does not. “I realize there’s no way you would have known that,” she will add.

  11. A helpful pop-up screen will now advise you to see an agent at the counter.

  12. Return to counter with the agent. Produce $20 bill.

  13. Agent says she will be right back and carries the money to the back room.

  14. Smile helpfully at the people behind you in line.

  15. Agent returns in 5–7 minutes, having completed the necessary paperwork to make $5 in change, and you are on your way. What could be easier?