Another day, another airport…why oh why can’t everyone just be consistent.
I was flying to Hannover via Schipol as due to the late booking I couldn’t get a direct flight, nor because I hadn’t booked them did I end up with business class tickets. Nightmare of a journey as once I arrived in Hannover I still had to get on a train to Wolfsburg where I had a meeting with Volkswagen at their production plant.
Added in to this traumatic journey was the fact I was delivering a tool that firstly was particularly expensive but secondly also fragile due to the sensitivity of the mechanism. It was decided (on my behalf by someone infinitely more senior than I – well my client at the time which amounts to the same thing) that instead of packing it in the hold to get thrown about by the luggage handlers I would be tasked with braving the hand-luggage option as I was assured it wasn’t on the ‘dangerous items’ list and there’d be ‘no problems’.
Everything went well at Heathrow (for a change) and I boarded the plane without any fuss at all. Not so when the transfer process started at Schipol.
Approaching the security check I placed my hand-luggage on the belt and walked through the metal detector hoop.
It seemed to take ages as the operator kept moving my stuff backwards and forwards through the machine until eventually it came into grasp. I was just about to take it when a man from behind the counter said “is this yours ?”
I could almost feel a sarcastic moment appearing “no of course not…in a heavily guarded closed facility surrounded by men with guns and security cameras following your every move I have decided that now is the exact time I want to try out a new role as a petty thief and pinch someone else’s hand luggage ! – are you a complete moron ?”
But instead I just said ‘yes”.
“Your item will have to travel separately from you.”
“What…why ? Do you think it’s dangerous or something, I was told it’s not on the forbidden list ?”
“Sorry sir for security purposes I’m not prepared to discuss the reasons why, but I’m informing you it will need to travel separately.”
“Can’t it go in the baggage hold ?” I ask in trepidation of the potential explanation I’d have to make should it get damaged.
“No, that’s impossible as it’s too late, it will have to be sent on the next flight”.
“But I need it – isn’t there any other way?”
Now whilst being very strict about their internal rules in some way this guy was also (like most Dutchmen I’ve met) trying to be helpful at the same time. He thought for a while and then said “Let me just check something Sir, just wait a moment and I’ll ask the pilot to see if he’s willing to take it”
A few minutes passed and then….
“He says its okay but it will have to travel at the front of the plane with the steward.”
“you’re telling me it’s going business class?”
“Yes, sir. You can pick it up from the flight steward once you’ve reached your destination and the plane has landed.”
I was relieved it was going on the same flight but at the same time somewhat shocked that not me but my hand luggage had been upgraded. I wasn’t therefore quick enough to selfishly suggest I swapped places with it so I sat up front with the steward and it had the reduced legroom halfway down the plane in my seat instead !
So for the rest of the journey through the air I had to sit drinking coffee and eating biscuits whilst my luggage was offered the luxury of free champagne and chocolates !
Upgraded…I wish !