Traveling can be such a joy, but at the same time it can be an absolutely nightmare. Take my recent trip to Europe for instance. Everything was going tickety-boo until I decided to take a side trip to Madrid from Amsterdam to see the Mad Cool music festival with my two sons.
The boys were flying directly to Madrid from Dublin, while I was flying to Madrid via Frankfurt, which is not my favourite airport at the best of times. If you think the departure gates are far apart at Pearson, try making a connecting flight in Frankfurt that’s less than 90 minutes apart.
My intention was to bring my backpack as a carry-on. Now, I admit, it was a smidgen over size for a carry-on, but I had done it before with other airlines. Not this time.
The Lufthansa agent at the check-in kiosk informed me that the flight was full and I would have to check my bag – and in an instant, she whisked off with my backpack and returned with my baggage tag.
Having read a few dozen stories about lost baggage on flights in Europe I had an inkling that this might not be a good thing.
When I finally arrived in Madrid, my backpack was no where to be found. “No big deal,” I thought. My luggage had been “delayed” before during my flight back from New Orleans in May and I ended up getting it back within 48 hours.
I gave all my information to the baggage tracing desk at the Madrid airport and headed into town to meet my boys. We were going to be in Madrid for four days, by which time my backpack would surely turn up. Well, two days went by, then another day, at which point I started getting nervous. I was also running out of clothes to wear since I only had two pairs of shorts and a couple of shirts, one of which I bought in Madrid.
When the backpack didn’t show up on the fourth day, I gave my forwarding address in Rotterdam to the missing baggage folks in the hope that it would show up before the boys and I headed off to the Tomorowland festival in Belgium which was five days and four nights camping.
Two more days went by and still no back-pack. In the meantime, I finally got a chance to wash the few clothes I had.
On the seventh day I headed off to the Tomorrowland festival sans backpack which was no longer “delayed” but misplaced. (I refused to use the word “lost”.)
I went through five days at Tomorrowland rotating the meagre clothes I had. Now, at this point if you are asking yourself, “Well, we didn’t he go out and buy some more clothes and send the bill to Lufthansa?”
Funny you should ask that question. I was using reverse psychology. I figured that if I went out and bought clothes I would never see my backpack again. On the other hand, if I delayed buying more clothes, my backpack would show up any minute. Unfortunately, my theory didn’t work.
I actually went another week without my backpack, which among other things, had a number of irreplaceable items inside including a one-of-a-kind muscle shirt that had been given to me by some Canadian peacekeepers in Dravr, Bosnia in 1999 and a Little League jersey that was given to me by the father of a player on the Mexican team who was 5-foot-11 and 195lbs. That was the kid not the father. It was the son’s team jersey from Nuevo Laredo. So I really wanted my backpack returned to me.
On my way back to Canada, I had a nine-hour layover in Frankfurt, which would give me plenty of time to try and find it.
When I went to the Lufthansa missing baggage office, I met a gentlemen who tried to help as best he could and end up finding out that my backpack had never left Schipol Airport in Amsterdam. The trick was how to find it at Schipol among the hundreds of other “delayed” pieces of luggage. I told him that it was a brand new backpack and couldn’t be missed. After all, it wasn’t as if it was just another Samsonite bag with wheels.
At this point he asked me if I knew what he did for Lufthansa. When I responded he was just another customer service agent among the half dozen or so other agents I had already dealt with, he proceeded to inform me that he was actually the chief financial officer of Lufthansa Airlines.
“Brilliant,” I told him “At least I knew who to sue if my backpack never show up.”
After a good chuckle, he agreed to see if there was some way he could get one of his people to try and find my backpack at Schipol using a photo of the bag.
Five days later, after I had returned to Canada, I received a personal phone call from my new friend Jörg Beifsel, informing me that my backpack had been found and that it was on its way back to Ottawa. It was like a Christmas miracle only five months early.
The backpack arrived at my house less than 72 hours and I was reunited with all my items including a power bank, which I’m convinced, was the problem in the first place.
You see, the Lufthansa agent in Amster-dam grabbed my backpack so fast I didn’t have time to realize the power bank was inside and there is a rule against having any lithium batteries inside your check-in luggage.
Some baggage handler probably dis-covered it and rather than removing it and allowing my backpack to continue on its merry way, they simply put my backpack aside.
Whatever the reason my backpack is now back in my possession and I can’t thank Lufthansa and Mr. Beifsel enough.
So you see, some lost baggage stories really can have a happy ending. .
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