Friday, September 07, 2007

Who Needs Luggage?

Our final day in the US was Friday, August 3rd. We left Hubby’s aunt’s house around 8:00 a.m. with four suitcases, and six carryons. The suitcases, it should be noted, were somewhat heavy – at least 2 of them were over the 50-pound limit. We were not, however, worried because I had silver status with Northwest and we both had silver status with Emirates and thus should be allowed 12 kgs each in excess baggage.

Our itinerary had us arriving home in Nairobi on Sunday evening. Before we got there, we had a flight from Illinois to Detroit, Detroit to New York JFK, JFK to Dubai, and then after a night at the Hilton, Dubai back to Nairobi. We anticipated being able to send our bags from Illinois through to New York and then rechecking them at that point through to Kenya. Good God were we wrong.

It started at the Northwest desk in Illinois and evil B!tch of a desk agent who was on a power trip. The agent refused to check our bags beyond Detroit. Since it wasn’t with their airline, it was against the rules, or so she claimed. She also claimed that Emirates wouldn’t let us onboard with the overweight bags despite our silver status. Working for a rival airline in a small Podunk town would give her far vaster knowledge than we had. Somewhere around this juncture, I had a small, tiny bit of a hissy fit and was escorted by Hubby to a seat in the corner while he continued to check us through to Detroit. For my own sake, I want to point out that She looked very superior when Hubby took her side and made me sit down. That B!tch. Oh and we had to pay for all of our overweight bags.

With three hours before our flight to New York was scheduled to depart Detroit, we thought we would have plenty of time to recheck our bags with Delta. Despite stopping for about ten minutes to “discuss” what had happened back in Illinois, by the time we arrived at the baggage belt our first three bags were sitting front and centre for us. Of course, since we had checked four bags through, this didn’t seem quite right.

After about an hour and a half of staring at the belt and waiting for the bag to magically appear, we went to the Northwest desk to ask about our missing bag. The first thing we discovered is that the B!tch was just that – an evil daughter of Satan on a power trip. Northwest has no such rules and our bags should have been checked through to New York at the very least. Lovely. Does anyone here have a feeling that She might be behind our missing bag? Me too.

Filling out the missing baggage paperwork took about another half hour and more than a few tears of anger and frustration. With our remaining three suitcases and six carryons, we headed upstairs to the Delta desk to check back in. Those lovely people said they would check us all the way through to Dubai. Thus cheered, we went back through security, stopped for sushi and bagels, and then sat at our gate for several hours – the flight was late.

When we finally boarded, the stewardess told everyone to hurry up and get seated because we had to take-off in twenty minutes or we would miss our “window” at JFK. Five minutes later, she made a second announcement: the plane was too heavy and they needed to off-load three passengers. Hubby and I looked at each other guiltily remembering our overweight suitcases in the hold below us. And then we waited. And waited. And waited.

When Delta finally realized that no one was going to volunteer, they came up with their own solution: they were going to randomly remove several pieces of luggage from the hold. Exsqueeze me?! Hubby immediately piped up and mentioned that we were flying overseas, so forwarding our baggage would not be quite as easy as they seemed to think. Not to worry, they assured us, anything going international was tagged and at the back of the hold: our bags were safe. For reasons completely unbeknownst to me now, we believed them.

The three hours we had at JFK turned out to be the exact amount of time necessary to change terminals and get through the incredibly long line at security. We likely would not have made it if we had had to check our bags. To add insult to injury, while boarding Emirates told me that one of my carryons was too big and heavy. Thankfully, I have the ability to look very cute and innocent when the situation warrants so they didn’t weight the extremely heavy bag (which, although full of hardcover books, was an officially sized carryon), and believed me when I said that it couldn’t be *that* heavy if little ‘ole me could lift it. Suckers!

Fast-forward 14 hours to Dubai. Guess how many bags were waiting for us? If you guessed zero, then you win the cupie doll! At this point, however, it was all becoming rather amusing and I wasn’t surprised, or even stressed. And, if I may say, if you’re going to lose luggage, then Emirates are the folks to do it with. They had a lovely office designed to calm you down and reassure you about their abilities to find your luggage in record time.

The next day, the Dubai Emirates clerk told us that our luggage had been found! It was even on its way to Nairobi! Once again, gullible us believed them. You’d think we would have learned our lesson by this point.

If you guessed that zero suitcases heralded our arrival in Nairobi. then you would be correct. It took two more days for us to receive the three that we suspect Delta removed from the hold back in Detroit. The final case containing all my clothes turned up on Wednesday.

In case the Greenpeace folks are reading this, then let me break down some environmental numbers for you. Hubby and I took four flights to get from Illinois to Nairobi. Our suitcases, since they were lost, took between 4-5 flights to return home to us. I’ll take a size 14 environmental shoe please!

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