What’s worse? Getting your luggage lifted or just looted? Having experienced both, CAROLINE HURRY is still undecided
You know how it is. You endure a 12-hour flight in (gah!) cattle class only to discover your suitcase has been molested. Eager to dig into the spoils, the thieves have ripped off the locks and slashed the leather.
Serenity in. Anger out. Things could be worse. In America, you could be pulled aside by the TSA (Transport Security Administration) or – more accurately – Touch Someone’s Arse. Their penchant for groping genitalia, confiscating soiled diapers off nonagenarians or strewing the ashes of diseased personages across the screening area, beggars belief. The TSA is the reason I won’t set foot in the US of A. Not even if you offered me a free ticket. Hell, no. I won’t go.
But back to the hallowed halls of OR Tambo Airport: A little perspective is all you need. Eight seconds or so and you’ll be home free. You can see the doors to the arrival area. Wilton Mcube, chauffeur for hire, will usher you into an air-conditioned Audi. There’ll be classical music. Soon you will be re-united with your pets and some potato salad. But no, 25 yards from the finishing line and now a customs official wants a good ole rummage among your personal effects. You want to say: “Don’t waste your time, Bru, the good stuff’s been nicked,” but you hold your tongue. Probably best just to co-operate.
“Care to open your suitcase for me, Miss?”
Sure. About as much as you’d care to stroll naked down Jan Smuts Avenue, which amounts to the same thing. By the time the official has unearthed to the passing public’s prurient gaze, the gussets of your unwashed knickers, your extra control compression girdle (with derriere lift) and held aloft –“What ees thees?” – the vibrating hand your husband got you in Copenhagen, your dignity will be dust. Red-faced, you will be forced to demonstrate how the oscillating fingers soothe aching shoulders and other hard-to-reach places at the flick of a button, handy – hah – after a hard day’s shopping.
The official will then turn his attention to your bottles of Scotch sealed in their duty-free plastic bag. He will say he is removing them for “further examination”. You will lose your cool and tell him you know your rights. You’ll storm off clutching the remnants of your luggage, daring him to take this further. He won’t. Richer pickings are heading his way. Compensation? Zip.
Option two will see you watching three lone suitcases – none of them yours – moving around Larnaca Airport’s carousel like some sort of grim metaphor for your life. Everyone else has baggage, except you – and not in a good way.
Dang! You will reflect on the irony of having wasted two red luggage straps and an extra R50 for a plastic wrap to deter OR Tambo’s luggage looters. You will endure lectures from your husband about how he specifically said to put his valuable engineering equipment in your hand luggage.
Forced to wear Y-fronts and his unflattering T-shirts for your month-long stay in Cyprus, you will be crabbier than a menopausal Madame deprived of her hormonal unguents. You will write copious emails to Emirates asking them to explain how their tracking system works. You will be told the airline regards your missing luggage as “a priority”. You will say: “Really? How can we tell?”
You will be ignored. In desperation, you will threaten to “go public”. Eventually, Emirates will admit they have no clue where your luggage is and compensate you a fraction of what your suitcase was worth. Still, you’ll reflect, it’s better than a slap on the arse from the TSA.