We went to Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks by way of Salt Lake City. We had more luggage than usual, because we bought along our camping gear.
The Smartcart baggage carts cost $3 to rent. On principal, I refuse to pay for baggage carts, since they’re free in most airports around the civilized world. I remember way back in the day, even the late Herb Caen complained about SFO charging for baggage carts. (Actually, now SFO offers baggage carts for free in the International Terminal when you arrive.)
Anyhoo, on arrival, I found a cart left by someone who had been too lazy to park it back at the stand. After we loaded our rental car with the luggage, I walked it back to the stand, because I didn’t want to clutter up the sidewalk; things should be placed back in its proper place. Lo and behold, I got a quarter returned to me.
On our way back, flying out of SLC, we found another empty cart in the terminal (but most of the walking distance from the rental car return we had to lug the baggage ourselves. The baggage now also included a 3 foot fiberglass/resin girl gnome that I couldn’t resist in an Afton WY antique store.)
With the heightened security measures, you check in your bags at Southwest Airlines, where they give you the tags, but then, you have to walk the bags over to the TSA X-ray machine. From there, they load it onto the conveyor belts, which hopefully sends your baggage to the right airplane. . .
Near the TSA X ray/baggage check-in were about 5 carts, abandoned by folks who had checked in their baggage. I started to push them together, “Hey Joe, help me, we get a quarter back for each of them!”
Joe was rather embarassed by my tacky behavior, so he became a mere accomplice, by taking my backpack. I pushed the train of carts back to the smart card stand, where I got 5 quarters back! But $1.25 doesn’t buy you anything in the airport.
I don’t know if people are lazy slobs, or don’t know that they can get a quarter back, or think that it’s not worth $0.25 for returning the cart.
I guess in America, the airports don’t want to incur the cost of hiring baggage cart handlers to keep retrieving the carts and stacking them neatly, so that they just contract with the Smartcart self-service operation.