On A Carousel

It suddenly hit me. I say I like new places, but I don’t enjoy travel. That isn’t really true.

Travel, especially air travel, is full of frustrations. Airport security always seems to take forever. Airline food can sometimes be less than appealing. The in-flight movies may all be films I have seen before – or would never want to see.

Those are all relatively minor annoyances. I have finally realized though what it is that makes air travel something I approach with dread rather than excitement.

It is the waiting that eats at me. 

Not the waiting for the flight to board or take off. I don’t like that, and I have had some long waits and canceled flights. But I always have a book with me, so that time does pass relatively quickly. 

Nor is it the wait for the meal to be served or the plane to reach destination. You want both to happen quickly, but know that they are going to happen sooner as opposed to later. 

I’ve realized that what I dislike, what colors the whole experience, is the wait at the luggage carousel for my bag or bags to arrive. That seems to take forever. 

Last month I waited 45 minutes by the baggage carousel at Cairo International Airport watching suitcase after suitcase make its way past me. When I reached the half-hour mark, I was beginning to wonder. 

I’ve had airlines misplace my luggage before. When I was homeward bound it wasn’t that big a deal. When my suitcase stayed in Istanbul, the airline realized immediately what had happened.I had no wait, I was paged on arrival, skipped customs since I had no luggage, and the bag was delivered to my home the next day. 

More problematic is the bag misplaced at the beginning of a long trip. You wonder if it will ever catch up with you – and what you will wear in the meantime. 

Standing in the arrivals hall at Cairo airport I could feel my blood pressure rising with each passing moment. I was helpless, I had no control. I just had to wait. And wait. And hope. 

Orphan luggage – probably stuff that didn’t make iton previous flights that must now be reunited with owners.

I don’t know if my suitcase was the last one off the plane because I didn’t look once it hit the carousel. I just grabbed it and headed for the door with a sigh of relief. I didn’t look back.

To avoid such situations I suppose I could never check a bag and only travel with a carry-on. But frequently that isn’t possible. 

On my most recent trip, for example, I was bringing stuff from Canada for friends and family in Cairo and Germany. Too much to fit in a carry-on. Plus there were things I wanted to bring back to Canada.

Is there a solution to this problem? I don’t see one, but I’m open to suggestions.

Postscript; I wrote the preceding in May at Frankfurt airport on the way to the UK – with only a carry on. I scheduled it to post today.

Monday night though, we arrived home in Ottawa. We sttod at the carousel, waiting for our luggage. Then came the announcement: the luggage on the carousel was all that was on the plane. Our bags hadn’t made the transition from Toronto when we changed flights.

When I spoke to an airline representative I was told the bags would be on the next flight – due in 15 minutes. At that point I had been traveling for 18 hours, but I stayed anyway. One bag arrived. The other was dropped off at home the next day. 

Do you see whay I don”t like to travel?


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