Having just made my connecting flight in the very nick of time, this flight was uneventful, quite peaceful in fact.
I arrived at my final destination for that day, which was Miami.
After the helter-skelter rushing about earlier, this time I took my usual leisurely stroll from the arrivals gate to the baggage collection area.
As always, people were pushing and jostling and running past me in a frantic dash to get into a queue somewhere. I’ve experienced that phenomenon a lot. There are three main categories of these retards, 1. the inexperienced travelers, 2. the bloody idiots, and, frequently, 3. guys with suits and briefcases trying to look as if they’re so important the world can’t wait an extra five minutes for their arrival. I think the mentality of all these poor fools is, the faster they run the quicker their bags arrive. It’s moron logic, it’s always been that way, and I’m sure it always will.
Eventually cool dude me sauntered up to the baggage collection area, having had a pit-stop to change my oil and check my tires so to speak, and sure enough all the runners and jostlers were still standing there waiting for their bags.
A satisfactory smile appeared on my face, only dimmed by having to fork out $5 for a trolley (Miami Airport/rip-off city or what!).
However, it was only another brief moment of triumph.
Whistles and bells eventually started sounding signifying that the luggage was on its way, and sure enough in a few moments bags started appearing and people started doing themselves injuries trying to haul them off the conveyor belt. (Why do the smallest women always need the biggest and heaviest luggage?)
All of them seemed to be doing well, except for me, of course. I stood there waiting for my luggage to appear, but it didn’t, and slowly the number of bags on the conveyor dwindled to just a few, with mine nowhere to be seen.
I strolled round the conveyor, just to double check that no one had mistakenly lifted my bags off the conveyor and then not bothered to put them back on again. That happens a lot too, people are so selfish and self-absorbed these days.
But I wasn’t too concerned. On the flight here I had come to terms with the fact that, whilst I had made valiant efforts to get the connecting flight, the baggage handlers didn’t have the same commitment and anyway when I thought about it, there hadn’t been time to get my bags off the other flight let alone sort them and transfer them the mile or so to the Miami flight.
So there I was, carry on bag only, and with an empty trolley. A trolley that I had to pay $5 for, did I tell you that?
I made my way to the airline baggage office to plead my case – or lack of cases as it turned out.
There were a couple of desks and officials standing behind them.
The one I needed was occupied by a couple from Brazil who had lost a case and were flying on soon to San Paulo or somewhere. The woman claimed to understand a little English, but unfortunately the guy behind the desk must have chosen all the words she didn’t understand because he was getting nowhere fast.
“What colour is your suitcase?” he asked.
A reasonable question I thought.
“A blue one,” she told him.
“Very good, madam” he replied, sure he was making progress.
“Was it a blue one like this?” he then inquired, pointing to a dark blue suitcase on a large card full of colour pictures of cases of all shapes and sizes.
“No,” she informed him. “It was one like this,” and she immediately pointed to a picture of a big red one!
To be fair, the man behind the desk took it in his stride.
He tried another time. He pointed to one like the red one the lady had indicated, only in blue as she had first said.
“Like this?” he asked hopefully.
“No, no, no,” she replied this time. “Assim, assim,” she went on, which I assumed meant something like “like this”, and pointed this time to a green bag sitting on the office floor that didn’t resemble any of the others.
I heard a few muffled snorts and wheezes, that I discovered was me trying hard to suppress guffaws of laughter. So rather than upset anybody any further I turned my attention to the other desk, hoping the guy there would help.
I should have known better. It was the Luftwaffa.
I inquired about my luggage and handed him my luggage tags. He looked down at them momentarily, then back up at me with disgust and contempt written all over his face. “Vee do not deal vis ziss,” he said and dismissed me from his humourless life.
I tried to take back my luggage tags with the same disdain, I don’t know whether I managed it or not. That’s my second run in with Lufthansa, on neither occasion did I enjoy the experience. They really need to work on their people skills.
So I was back in the other queue again. Not much of a queue really. Still just me and the Brazil nuts in front of me. The airline guy was still struggling, although he seemed to have progressed as far as having identified a suitcase of the correct type and colour. I assumed so anyhow.
He was now trying to tell the woman that her suitcase would be sent on the next available flight and she could pick it up at the Varig airline office in her home town in Brazil the following day.
It was simple enough, but her little English was very little indeed, and she just looked at him with a blank expression, as if he’d just tried to explain the fundamentals of quantum physics.
I kind of expected him to start with that weird non language that many people try with foreigners when they are stuck. You know the kind of thing, “Pickie uppy casey manana….”
But to his credit he didn’t. Instead he persevered. It took a while but he eventually printed it all out in Portuguese, gave it to her and off she and her even more confused husband went.
Now it was my turn.
“This will be an easier one for you,” I confidently said, quickly explaining the lateness of the first flight and that there was probably not time to transfer the luggage.
Sure enough he had already been informed and all I had to do was identify my bags. For the black one I pointed to a black one on his card, and so on. I felt ever so smug. Then he gave me the paperwork and assured me that the bags would be delivered to my hotel later that night or first thing the following morning.
He was a nice guy, very patient and polite. I thanked him and folded up my papers and started to leave.
I have some Scots blood pulsing through my veins and just then it kicked in to play. Thank goodness!!!
“Hang on a minute,” I said. “I paid $5 for this here trolley gizmo and, through no fault of mine, I’ve no bags to put on it! You’re going to have to refund my money.”
He sympathised profusely. “I understand what you’re saying,” he replied. “But unfortunately I have no authority to issue a refund for that, it’s the airport that charges for the trolleys not us.”
I told him that may be so, but it was really unsatisfactory.
In truth I didn’t really care that much, but this had become a matter of principle, and I wasn’t for backing down. No, Sireee! Never!!
But then he said something else that shook my principles to the core.
“I can’t give you the $5,” he repeated, “but did you have to pay anything for your second bag?”
I told him, yes. They had charged me $70 for the second bag at embarkation airport, which is their standard charge for additional bags on transatlantic flights.
“Ah, ok,” he said. “What I can do is void the charge for the additional bag. I have the authority to do that.”
The bastard had outsmarted me and there wasn’t a thing I could do about it.
There was nothing for it but to throw my principles to one side, forget about my $5 and take the $70 refund.
But I had held out for a few seconds. You can’t take that away from me.
And I did put my carry on bag on the trolley and wheeled it about the airport for a while until thought I had got my $5’s worth, which, coincidentally, was when I got to the hotel shuttle pick-up point.
That good old Scots blood again, you don’t forget!
Have you had similar experiences? Send them along. Let the world know what is happening before it is too late.