I'm very proud of that little family, who got through their week in two changes of outfits and a few pieces the rest of us lent them (I surrendered a t-shirt, a long navy Gap skirt, and a brand-new pair of espadrilles I'd bought -- Liberty print! -- that were sadly proving to be a bit too big anyway).
In future, Megan and Rob will be careful to include a change in their carry-on luggage, and they'll never again check their meds. It's tough, though, when you're wrangling an 18-month old. That wrangling is probably also responsible for the loss of that all-important baggage claim check -- you know, that little square of paper that always breaks away from your boarding pass? and has those sticky pieces on the back that correspond to your checked luggage but that no one ever checks?
Anyway, the bag has been sighted several times. At first, at the airport, their airline claimed no knowledge of it whatsoever, and Megan wasn't allowed to file a claim without her baggage check (since the bag did eventually surface in an airport away from the one they'd checked into, it's safe to say it's in the computer system along with everything else that travelled with them. It's also safe to speculate that a scan of a passport could probably bring up every piece of luggage any of them have ever travelled with in the last, say 5 to 10 years.) However, while Megan and Rob were making the most of their swim gear and shorts and sundresses and t-shirts (and Harriet was delighting in even more nudity than she's regularly allowed), they got an email from some alert employee somewhere in Rome. Is this your bag? Yes, yes it certainly is. Okay, then, we'll send it to Toronto.
But they didn't. When the family disembarked in Toronto at the end of a holiday spent without all their best summer gear, they hurried to pick up the luggage so they could bring it with them on the connecting flight to Vancouver.
Um, what bag?
Many phone calls and emails and tears and every bad word you can think of were employed. Rob made a trip out to Vancouver airport and talked to many people at many desks. And four days ago, they got another call and yes, the bag was in Rome. There was some question about how it would be returned, since Alitalia doesn't fly in and out of Vancouver, but it was there and somehow it would get to them. Just hang on. . . .
And then on Thursday, Megan updated her Facebook status to
Guess what??? They lost our baggage again. For the 3rd time. Is this funny yet? #alitalia #lostluggage #areyoukiddingme — feeling pained.
So we're all still waiting. Crossing our fingers. If you have time to cross yours too, that would be much appreciated.
Meanwhile, when Paul and I checked in for our flight, very early on the same Saturday that Megan and Rob and Harriet would be flying home without their luggage, we were pressured by the desk agent to check ours, although it was clearly within the guidelines for carry-on. Apparently the British Airways flight was fully booked, and there might not be room for our bags; we were given stern looks and frowns and admonitions about the possibility of the bags being left at the boarding gate and transferred to the hold. Paul was almost ready to comply, but I'm afraid I dug my heels in.
"Another airline has lost my daughter's luggage for a week, and I'm just not prepared to take that chance with mine," I said. I was inspired by a memory of a colleague who had refused a similar request by Air Canada. Her luggage had been "misplaced" for a very inconvenient two days on her two previous flights, and she just said "No, I'm not checking it."
We'd paid extra for seats at the curve of the plane's rear, where there were two seats instead of three, so there was plenty of room in the overhead bins. And we've become so practiced in our routines with our bags that no other passengers were disturbed by ours. We carry them easily, heft them above easily, and our other tote-sized/purse/briefcase carry-on slides easily and quickly under the seat. There are times when bags must be checked, yes, and we paid extra to do this with Easy-Jet whose guidelines are very clear and very fairly enforced on this issue (Based on our flight from Paris to Bari, I can't say enough good things about Easy-Jet; fabulous service!).
But if I made myself manage with only a carry-on for an entire month of travel, do you think I would then surrender the convenience that discipline had earned me, all because one desk agent tried to intimidate me? (and to be fair, every other aspect of our British Airways flights, particularly the Vancouver - Heathrow - Vancouver portions, was good)
So, if after reading all this, you're wondering what the photos have to do with the text, here's a sample of what that single carry-on yielded me in terms of outfits. The biggest demand of the capsule wardrobe was the swing from cool and rainy during our 4 days in London to the weeks of high-20s, low 30s temperatures in Bordeaux and Peschici.
Not shown here, but also in my Rimowa case were a Longchamps bag, 3 t-shirts (2 white, 1 aqua), a long-sleeved white shirt, two more scarves (wouldn't bother with this many next time, at least not at this time of year. No one was wearing scarves in the heat! no matter how French!). I also packed a swimsuit bottom with two tops, two cover-ups, and all my running gear. Leaving my running shoes behind (I'd deliberately brought along a pair ready to be retired) left me room in my case for the little bit of shopping I did, as did lending my skirt, a t-shirt, and my Longchamps bag to my daughter. The denim jacket, of course, got worn onto the plane rather than take up suitcase space.
I'm not saying the carry-on route is for everyone, nor that I don't occasionally regret it. We could have brought back some amazing olive oil at amazing prices had we been willing to check our bags. Then again, all that olive oil might still be Lost in Rome . . . .
I'm bringing my iPad mini with me and will surely Blogsy-post from Vancouver, but meanwhile, care to share your lost-luggage stories? Or travel tricks on avoiding them? (The best thing my daughter did, for example, the one that may yet get the bag back to her, is something I've been doing for years -- eschewing all those complicated luggage tags for the simplicity of an email address, both inside your case and attached outside -- it doesn't let potential thieves know more about your empty house's location than you want them to, and you're probably checking email regularly, even while away). Or you're more than welcome simply to lay down some sympathy and encouragement for a curly-haired redhead who really wants to wear a favourite long sundress before summer's gone. . . .