I’ve said it before, and I now say it again: Travel is not without misadventure …
Today, more than ever, it’s apparent to this traveller that patience and a sense of humour are valuable commodities.
So, too, are basics such as toothpaste and other core toiletries. As are cosmetics, much-loved clothes, shoes and special pieces of jewellery and items recently purchased specifically for travel abroad … all of which would be nice to be with, rather than without, when one arrives in Europe for long-planned and much anticipated holiday travel.
Air Canada, this is for you. As a generally courteous Canadian, and partly on the principle of taking the high road, I refrained from joining those who re-blogged word and photos highlighting your much-maligned baggage drop escapades earlier this year. We purchased our tickets before that PR faux pas, and now I’m sincerely wishing that you’d seen fit to drop my luggage in Lisbon with me … or, perhaps, that we’d booked with another airline.
However, after spending two days in Europe sans luggage, toiletries, wardrobe, perfume, favourite shoes and jewellery, without benefit of any communications from Air Canada or its partners, the gloves are off. An encounter with Alaska Airlines earlier this year left me with respect for how that organisation handled the temporary absence of one’s luggage, and a sense of readiness to fly their skies again.
What of Air Canada? Not a word. No response to my query seeking advice. No guidelines on what a traveller might wish to consider in such a scenario. No communication at all.
Wouldn’t you hope, after long planned intercontinental travel, that your favourite dresses, tops and skirts, as well as the perfumes, shampoos, conditioners, clothing, shoes, dental floss and other toiletries you’d packed would arrive with you?
I’m certainly not the first to arrive in a foreign locale without any of the belongings so carefully selected or acquired specifically for the trip. I know, from the disgruntled fellow travellers at Heathrow’s new terminal, that we were not alone in our frustration there. Readers may have already heard about delays ad nauseam, and are unlikely to be surprised of word of travellers who, after almost a two-hour delay, proceeded toward Gate 20 only to be met by a secured door through which we weren’t permitted to pass until three minutes or so until boarding time. We were as sheep herded into a bleak and airless holding pen. Heathrow employees passed through while we were waiting, and their comings and goings were marked by a distinct absence of eye contact.
To give credit where due, Air Canada’s Star Alliance partner TAP – Portugal provided service and food that were superior to their partner’s, even though they were more than an hour late in departing. Staff on the ground in Lisbon were gracious, even though they were dealing with at least eight parties on our particular flight who were equally discombobulated to watch the luggage carousel spin with their companions’, but not their own, luggage.
The bad news is that we lost most of our arrival day in Lisbon, where we arrived late and strove to find luggage instead of enjoying the festival outside our hotel. The good news is that the Portuguese have an innate grace, which compensated to a degree for frustrations with lack of follow up from Air Canada and its partners. Andre at the Lisbon airport seemed genuinely apologetic for a foul-up not of his making and, while the toiletries kit pictured above has not made up for a lack of change of clothing, or frustration over the apparent loss of favourite outfits, I appreciated his approach to the problem.
However, almost 36 hours after arrival in Europe and multiple status checks, all I know is that tracing is still underway. It’s time to bypass the intended visits to cultural sites, and go shopping.