I spent Christmas with my family in Canada. I had a fantastic time, but by December 26th I was ready to return to my tropical Island home—Roatan, Honduras. I was ready to leave my fleece lined coat and woolly sweaters behind. My toes were screaming to be released from confining winter boots, desperate to be wearing flip-flops again. I arrived at Pearson Airport, Toronto, Ontario three hours ahead of my scheduled departure time (which meant I was there at 4:30 AM.) Little did I realize that three hours wasn’t going to be enough time!
Apparently, the day before (Christmas Day) a passenger on a flight from Nigeria to the US had set his lap on fire! RED ALERT! RED ALERT! RED ALERT!
Before boarding the plane there was an extensive list of new security measures in place for all flights landing in the US that took a couple of extra hours to complete. So by the time my flight landed in Atlanta, my connecting flight to Roatan had already left. I strolled off the plane knowing there was no need to rush; I’d be spending the night in Atlanta. Oh well, but what about my luggage? It’s hit and miss at the best of times to have your bags arrive with you when you fly to Roatan; throw in a twist or two and…
The airline re-booked me with a different carrier for the next day. So when I arrived home to Roatan and stood at the baggage conveyor belt anticipating no luggage for me, I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my bags snaking along the belt. As for my second suitcase, no such luck.
A routine familiar to most of us who travel to and from Roatan was about to unfold. I sauntered over to the counter (where you report if your luggage didn’t arrive with you) ready to explain what happened to the clerk behind the counter. I knew it would be an absolute waste of time, but what the heck—I’d give it a try!
I told my story…and waited. She listened to my tale, peering at me through droopy eyelids. I realized she had lost interest so I start patting my sides, demonstrating being physically searched; as I was at the Toronto airport. Her eyelids rise a bit. Ah ha, she feels my pain—I’m going to get my second suitcase…
Without keying anything into the computer terminal, without even a glance at the room where unclaimed luggage is kept, without suggesting I fill-out a missing luggage report, she said, “Come back tomorrow, your bag will be here then.”
She knew that I knew. It wouldn’t be.
Let the games begin!
Day Two, I returned to the airport. Same clerk, different answer, “Our airline doesn’t have your bag—you flew with another airline.”
Silly me, Wagging my claim ticket in-front of her, I tried to again explain what happened.
“We’ll call you when it arrives.” Her expression as dull as it had been the previous day.
She knew that I knew. Nobody was going to call me.
She won this round, but I’ll be prepared when I return the next day.
Day three, I marched toward the counter. She’s ready with the blocker. “Your bag is still on the Mainland, in San Pedro Sula. It had a RUSH, Expedite sticker on it (with this airline that means don’t send it on.) They took it off the plane coming here today.” She waved me away. “Come back tomorrow.”
Man! She’s good, two excellent fake-outs in a row. We stare at each other. I was weak, I admit it. I meekly suggested she go look in the back room, just to confirm it’s not here yet. She shuffled away, returning a few minutes later, “Your bag’s not here. Come back tomorrow.”
Day four, I’m really ready this time! I’ve studied the game plan book. I’ve been coached, and got the pep talk from friends who had met the same opponent. I’m not leaving the airport without my suitcase. I slammed my claim ticket down on the counter, my nostrils flared, and my stance offensive. “Give me my bag!”
She hesitated… “Your bag’s not here.”
I pounced, “Get my suitcase from the back room or I’ll get it myself!”
“Your bag’s not here,” she foolishly tried to regain her position.
“I’ll get it myself!”
She stepped aside, her gaze averted.
She knew that I knew. She had won the first few rounds—but I was going to win the game!
I went around the counter, (you can get away with doing that at the Roatan airport.) I entered the room where “not here luggage” is held prisoner and there was my bag! A little tattered, the RUSH, Expedite sticker half torn off, but it was here on Roatan, and probably had been since the day I arrived.
I pushed the button to release the pop-up handle, and wheeled my suitcase along. Stomping past her, tossing my claim check tag on the counter, my chin held high—I had WON the game!