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Monday, May 13, 2019

Koopmans' Travel Disaster #4,817


OK, so maybe I have focus issues sometimes [looks up to watch a butterfly flying around] however, it's not as if I wake up planning the latest Koopmans Travel Disaster.

Can I blame it on now being AARP-eligible? :)

This particular KTD marinated itself for more than a week and began when I met up with Mirjam ahead of our trip to Hong Kong. I knew something was wrong when  her first words were, "You checked-in a suitcase??"

"Uh-huh." (Followed swiftly by an internal "oh-oh.")

"Why did you do that?"

"I thought that's what we were both doing," I whined in a manly man way. "I'm bringing lots of different clothes, as I've got no idea what to expect."

Mirjam sighed, but off we went and had a wonderful, amazing and delicious trip.

However, my dratted checked-in bag went around the back of my mind like (dare I say it) a baggage carrousel, mainly as I hadn't judged the transfer times of my second, connecting flight from Holland to Spain. As I was flying two separate airlines with no bag-stuff agreement, I only had 60 minutes to:

  • Get off the plane
  • Walk to, line up and go through passport control
  • Wait and get my bag
  • Exit arrivals
  • Enter and find the right departure zone
  • Check in the bag
  • Get to the gate
  • Board the plane
Easy peasy it wouldn't be, but I felt like shit that I'd missed the whole point when Mirjam suggested we use carry-ons -- for this specific, time-issue reason.

Therefore, a back-up plan was needed! (And, what could go wrong when I'm involved?)

We walked through one of the many local markets and bargained for two cheap carry-on sized cases (that was fun.) I filled both with all me dirty pants, sweaty t-shirts, plus some dodgy souvenirs.

The plan was I would check in the now-empty big suitcase to Amsterdam, and when we arrived, I'd grab it and run! per the above list. If not, Mirjam would take it with her and return the suitcase on her next visit, but in the first scenario, I'd be able to wash me undies when I got home.

I checked in the one suitcase and walked over to Hong Kong passport control with my two, new carry-ons. Only I didn't know they have a specific "1-person, 1 carry-on" policy. Bloody hell😳. Thank God we'd had lots of extra time on the way out.

Back I go to the KLM counter and check in a second bag. Then, back to passport control I go. This time, not a bother and off we eventually flew.

11 hours, 38 minutes later, we landed at Amsterdam, and ten minutes early! I had 70 minutes before the second flight closed for boarding.

10 minutes later, the plane made it to the jetway. Drat. Lost me 10 extra minutes. 60 to go.

Lucky to disembark nearly first, we soon came to a junction. Transfer passengers to the right... baggage claim and exit to the left. I looked at Mirjam and so didn't want her to deal with two suitcases. I felt guilty enough. "OK, I'm going for it," and turned left.

48 minutes to go.... I'm standing at the baggage claim and the sign flashes up: "Baggage from Hong Kong expected in 13 minutes. Crap!!! But, I can still make it.

38 minutes: Mirjam mapped where my departure check-in area was, and it looked to be a good bit away. She told me to go, so I went, feeling pretty shitty.

30 minutes: I stood by the check-in desk, desperately trying to stay in text-contact with Mirjam, but the free WiFi kept dropping.

28 minutes: I get a message. Mirjam's got the first bag. Oh boy. C'mon, c'mon second bag...

25 minutes: Mirjam has the second bag. OK, I can still do this, people! She's on the way and I'm jumping up and down like I need to pee, trying to see which direction she'll come.

20 minutes: There's Mirjam! She'd thrown the carry-on inside the large suitcase. All I had to do was get to the desk and check in one bag, as planned.

18 minutes: I totally (but very politely) cut the small line, with permission from those in front of me. I triumphantly stand in front of the check-in lady - who promptly took a call on her work phone.

17 minutes: I slide over to her colleague who clicks and clacks on the keyboard and informs me the flight has already closed.

"No!" I say, "There's still 17," -- I look down at my phone -- "16 minutes to go... Please can you do anything? Something? For the children?"

15 minutes: Two phone calls later, and God bless her, the check-in lady found a supervisor who gave me the green light. The most beautiful check-in label ever printed was soon attached to the suitcase. I gave a thumbs up to Mirjam, who was also transferring, but had extra time.

(I was so happy she didn't have to lug around my luggage for a week. Seriously, there's love and true love, but she didn't need to be dealing with my dirty knickers!)

14 minutes: I grabbed my boarding pass, got a "Hope you make your flight, dude!!" from the guys who let me go first and off I ran toward the departure gates.

13 minutes, 50 seconds: I hear people shouting at me.

13 minutes, 30 seconds: I turn around and run, this time, in the right direction.

9 minutes: I've got a backpack on and a carry-on that's got 4 wheelies going in 23 directions. Instead of running like the wind, I'm more like meandering in a light breeze.

5 minutes: (my gate, of course, was at the other end of the airport) I arrive at the gate, met by a smiling check-in guy who's genuinely happy to see me. "You made it. Well done." I'm so knackered that all I can do is moan and drag more oxygen into my middle-aged lungs.

3 minutes: I'm at the end of the jetway, with a couple of people behind me. Ha! I so made it.

1 minute: I slide/pour/fall into my aisle seat, praising the airline gods that there was no one in the middle seat. I was sweating like a trooper and didn't have a spare bottle of deodorant on me.

0 minutes: An announcement from the cockpit:

"Hi folks, your captain here. We're continuing to fuel up, so please keep your seat belts off and your window blinds up. We're sorry for the delay, but should be ready to depart in about 15-20 minutes..."



Elephant's Child said...

Oh so familiar.
Travel disasters make for the best stories. My truly rotten self would rather listen to 'And then we were abducted and held for ransom (which no-one would pay) so the kiddnappers got sick of us and set us free' than 'We had an awesome holiday and here are all the selfies we took of us against the pool, sunset, bar, meal, waiter...'

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark ... oh I can't believe it?! So glad you had a wonderful holiday though ... travelling another matter! Cheers Hilary

Elizabeth Seckman said...

My son flies a lot and hates to check bags. He will wear one outfit for a week to avoid checking a bag.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Figures! All that rushing for nothing. Airlines are so evil.

CWMartin said...

I think you've broke me of any desire to fly...

Lisa said...

Okay dude, you really have a knack with travel! Have you thought of writing a unique travel blog about all the things that can go wrong? LOL!

Jo said...

You still haven't beaten the spewing volcano in Iceland which prevented a friend from flying from the UK due to all the muck in the air, lack of visibility and all that. I am so glad I don't fly any more, never had to do transfers either.

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