As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, part of my tortuous trip back home to South Africa from Canada involved my luggage going missing. It had been checked all the way through from Prince George, a mill town up in the Cariboo district of Canada, to Johannesburg, South Africa.
In Vancouver I checked how it was doing on its mundane voyage, and saw (with pictures even) it moving into the international baggage system – to my next port of call, Los Angeles. Again, I saw a mugshot of it as I passed through customs into the USA. When I got to LA, I was told it had arrived but that it had only been checked through as far as Frankfurt, Germany. They told me they would sort it out, though, making sure it got all the way to Jo’burg. That’s when the weirdness started.
When I went back later I was told that it had, in fact, not arrived in California and that they had no idea where it was. I was to check on its progress when I arrived in Germany.
I sought out the United Airlines help desk as soon as I arrived in Frankfurt. An obliging lass looked into it for me, calling down to the baggage handling section. She was quite excited to tell me that it was on the baggage carousel ready for pick up.
“Ok,” I replied. “But I can’t go through customs to get it as I don’t have a Schengen visa.”
I could imagine it going around and around, more and more lonely on the carousel, as all the other baggage departed for home, wondering why I had abandoned it there.
“Oh, no problem,” she assured me. “I’ve asked them to pick it up and scan it through to South Africa. Just check on its progress before your next flight.”
I was skeptical but was trying hard to trust in the system and its people.
Throughout the entire journey I had been quite fastidious about doing what I was told by those in charge. As soon as the South African Airways desk opened, I went to ask about my delinquent bag. Again, I was stunned to be told that it had not, in fact, shown up at the airport.
My bag was starting to take on “David Copperfield-esque” status with its ability to show up and then disappear on the “system” and in real life. I was wondering if this was all part of its twisted plan for one grand “reveal” at the end of the trip – appearing on the carousel in Johannesburg with a naughty laugh and an excited “voila, here I am, aren’t I awesome?”
Excitedly, it would tell of how it took a different route via Manitoba, Iceland, Mauritania and Kenya. I would commend it for its adventurous spirit but quietly chastise it for the stress it had heaped upon me.
And next time I embarked on a grand voyage it would find itself left behind, alone in the closet, replaced by a more cooperative, less adventurous bit of luggage …
P.S. On arriving back in South Africa, my luggage was not waiting for me as I had hoped. It is apparently definitely still in Frankfurt. Probably. Unfortunately the airline is not sure where exactly – they can see that it arrived but can’t seem to locate its exact whereabouts. Perhaps it slipped off to have a beer with some Bavarians, or is entangled in a clandestine game of poker with a few of the less savoury baggage handlers.
Let’s see what tomorrow brings though, and whether I will have clean underwear, long pants and shoes to wear to the wedding I’m meant to shoot on Saturday.