Twice bitten, twice shy

Posted on September 23, 2014 by


So, I went to old south Wales, where I assume New South Wales is named after. Old south Wales was just awesome and I will get around to regaling you with my Welsh derby tales but first, let’s talk about travelling with derby gear. In particular, let’s talk about when not one but two airlines lose all your derby belongings during the one holiday!

Our first contestant is Air Canada. With an assist from Aer Lingus, Air Canada managed to put my suitcase waaay out of play on a one week trip to visit a friend in Toronto. It took Air Canada six whole days to get my suitcase back to me. I had everything in there: my gorgeous new skates, derby gear, team and travel team jerseys and, of course, all my clothes and toiletries for my trip!

For almost a week I wore the same outfit and horrible Walmart “fruit of the loom” undies. Every day those undies taunted me with their slight granny cut and dodgy see-through quality (rather than hey-hey-aren’t-I-sexy? see-throughness). Every day, my lovely friend Bec would hand me her mobile phone in the afternoon and say “it’s time”. I would call the Air Canada staff and hear the exact same script I had heard the day before. Word for word. It was such a disempowering experience. Bec was sure there was a magic room at Toronto airport where all the lost luggage hangs out.

On the phone to Air Canada

On the phone to Air Canada

By day six, we had been told for the last four days straight that my bag was at Toronto airport but that the staff there just hadn’t got around to acknowledging it. We resolved to go find the magic room for ourselves. After a couple of hours in bumper-to-bumper highway traffic, Bec dropped me at the airport and off I trotted, looking for the magic room. I had to ask a few different staff members and enter a “no entry” door against the flow of arriving passengers but I eventually found the magic room. There it was, full of luggage that people would be desperately worried about. I know you can imagine what the Air Canada staff were doing – “working hard to reunite stressed out and inappropriately-underweared people with their possessions?”

No! The keeper to the magic room was out the back trying to play someone’s lost ukulele. I was outraged. I tell you what, if I had arrived to find him giving my skates a go, I would have been delivering an expulsion-worthy high block in an instant.

It turns out my case had been sitting there for the last four days but, while we had been sitting in traffic, it had been transferred to a warehouse for delivery. Bec and I trudged home. We received a call that afternoon advising us that the case would be delivered between midnight and 1am. That’s ludicrous, right? The only thing more ludicrous is that the courier ran an hour late, dragging Bec out of bed at 2am to go down and collect the case in the pouring rain.

The gorgeous Bec

The gorgeous Bec, on top of Mont Royal

I had my belongings long enough to unpack everything, photograph all my possessions and then repack it to give back to Air Canada to fly me to London. They managed to not completely balls up that trip and I thought the luggage saga was over.

Maurice tried to smuggle himself to London in my case

Maurice tried to smuggle himself to London in my case

Oh, how wrong I was.

Contestant number two is good old strayan Qantas. I was confident my bags would make it back to Oz with them for two reasons:

  1. They’re Qantas – reliable, professional, not-a-budget-airline Qantas
  2. The odds of luggage being mishandled is 12 in 1000 or just over 1%. I felt I had already done my 1%

Well, I arrived home but my luggage didn’t. Right off the bat, Qantas handled the situation much more professionally. The first thing they did was have me identify my luggage type from a laminated card with different suitcases depicted. I rang almost every day and each time I spoke to someone who treated me like a real human. They would search for my luggage based on a description of the contents while I was on the line so I could hear them doing it and see that they were dedicating a lot of time to it. One woman even called and left a voicemail to let me know she was still looking and would call me when she found something.

I have to say, I did lose hope though. On day five, I rang to offer the photos of my belongings. The woman asked me again about the contents of the case. This time, she didn’t ask me for distinctive items, she asked me if I had food in there. Looking back, this was a stroke of brilliance. Australians travelling home keep food on top because they know they’ll need to show Customs. This woman also had a great memory and she identified my case contents from maple syrup cream cookies. I was overjoyed and just starting laughing with relief. Two days later, I was reunited with my derby gear.



My suitcase was a little worse for wear

My suitcase was a little worse for wear

During the time of separation, it was painfully apparent what was important to me. The things I was in tears about losing were:

  • My derby gear, especially my new Antiks (new for me; bought secondhand), already broken in and my helmet with its stickers that tell my derby history;
  • The photos on my netbook; I only use it on holidays so it contains a lot of holiday pics, including RollerCon 2011;
  • The gifts I had bought people and already imagined giving to them; and
  • Clothing that had been a gift from someone.

I have already devised a strategy for next time I fly with skates. I will take them through security as soon as I arrive at the airport to make sure there are no issues. Once cleared, I will point out to the security staff that I was just checking and exit immediately. Then I’ll check in my other luggage, collect my ticket and go through security again, this time confident that I won’t be stopped and told the skates aren’t allowed.

What do you think? Will this work? (Comment below)

Posted in: LimboLand