A bad trip from Europe ends with damaged luggage

Where Cuzz Was

If you recall, I had some issues at the airport in Germany both with checking my guitar and then fearing I’d be detained after accidentally carrying a pocketknife into security. However, it seemed all was well once I got through security and walked to my flight. Well, that wasn’t exactly the case.

My flight to London was delayed about 45 minutes, which made me miss my flight to the U.S. After an hour and a half of inching through Heathrow security that killed any happiness I had left, I made it to my new, turbulent flight that rerouted me to Boston.

I arrived, yet there was no suitcase, nor guitar. I checked with the baggage kiosk and the workers assured me they would reroute everything. It seemed like good news, but something made me skeptical. I left, and waited for my final flight with a new airline.

8:00 p.m. — flight delayed

I watched the departure/arrivals monitor, and thought, “No problem, I’ll eat something.”

10:00 p.m. — flight delayed.

Ok, not a huge deal but there’s only so much “boredom eating” I can handle.

11:55 p.m. — flight canceled due to storms.

My new airline would not cover a hotel for cancellation due to a natural event and the next earliest flight was 6 a.m. I envisioned myself sprawled out on an airport carpet using a backpack filled with books and electronics as a pillow, and I thought, “I can do better.”

With very little effort, I got a free hotel from my original airline. I put on the hotel bathrobe and laid in a soft bed, basking in my top-notch negotiating skills until I slept.

When I arrived in Baltimore, I got on my knees and yelled “Hallelujah!” Though, in hindsight, I should have waited about 20 minutes, because my luggage wasn’t at the carousel. I was the last person waiting there, staring where bags part the black dangling plastic and slide down the metal chute.

As it turned out, my guitar was late. I had to go back to the airport later that evening to pick it up (all in one piece, fortunately). But, still no suitcase.

A month later, plus multiple phone calls to airlines and airports, a delivery person rolled a beaten, soggy orange rectangle to my front door. It looked like someone dunked it in the Thames then left it on a corner somewhere.

I had, fortunately, stuffed a lot of my clothes into plastic compression bags which saved them. The unprotected articles, including a pair of leather shoes, were coated in black and green mold. Papers and documents I had, including my diploma, were ruined, and metal items were rusted.

The airline reimbursed me both for the destruction and likely to stop me from complaining on Twitter. The moment that cash touched my bank account was the official end of my worst travel experience.

Tip 1 — I’d imagine my situation was rare, but if your original flight is rerouted and you end up with a new airline that cancels and leaves you stranded, check with both airlines about getting some sort of reimbursement. In my case, my first airline realized I’d have never been in that situation if their first flight hadn’t been delayed between Germany and the U.K.

Tip 2 — If you choose a soft-shelled suitcase over a hard shelled, I would highly recommend whatever it contains be protected by something waterproof on the inside. I used travel compression bags, which not only protects items but saves lots of space.

Tip 3 — There’s definitely worse things than having to spend more time in a stable and loving home due to a pandemic.


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