Man’s Best Friend


Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend.  Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.
– Groucho Marx

The journey from Heathrow to Rome goes without incident.  It was always going to be the change at Rome that was likely to cause me problems, though, and, true to form, it does.  The plane lands about 15 minutes late, which, when I only had an hour and half to change planes anyway, makes it quite tight for time at Fiumicino, which sprawls untidily all over the place.  Annoyingly, our plane lands only a few gates away from the one at which I’ll be departing in an hour or so’s time, but we are then bused about 50 miles across the airport to the arrivals gate.  When we get off the bus, there is a member of Alitalia cabin crew herding up all the people who are connecting to the Milan flight (why on earth anyone would fly from Heathrow to Rome to then go back to Milan is beyond me, but there’s no accounting for Italians), which is boarding now and due to take off in about 15 minutes’ time.  They are all hustled to the front of the security queue, while the rest of us mutter and grumble disgruntledly.  This is, of course, eating into my changeover time, and I’m beginning to get a bit antsy.  Finally, as I look at the clock and realise that my flight has opened for boarding, I decide to do as the Italians do and just push to the front of the queue with a winning smile.  Amazingly, I get away with it.  I should do this more often.

It’s now a marathon dash across the airport to make my plane.  I make it with about 5 minutes to spare, and board the plane puffing like a grampus.  As I sit down, I consider the possibility of my luggage having made the same change.  My bet at this point is about 95% unlikely, but never say never, right?
2 hours later, watching the empty conveyor belt at Brindisi, I finally concede defeat.  The shocking thing is how many other people have also not been reunited with their bags; there are a good 10 of us in the queue waiting to report missing luggage.  I text my mother to let her know that I’ve arrived safely but that my bag hasn’t.  She appears to have developed a sense of the surreal, however, as I receive the following reply: ‘Brilliant it all went smoothly now you can be warm’.  Er – right.

As the days go on and I hear nothing, I start to lose hope.  My sense of the macabre sends me to the internet to read Alitalia luggage horror stories (many and vitriolic). The things that I am most upset about are all the books in the bag.  I’d specifically asked for books for Christmas, so that I would have something to read while in Italy.  Yes, they’re theoretically replaceable via Amazon, but the post round here is no more reliable than the planes.  I’m also freezing my arse off, as all my jumpers were in the suitcase, dammit!  I ask Mum to send me receipts for as much as she can, so that if I have to make a claim I have something to make it with.  She manages to root out a load of genuine ones, as well as corralling a load from her friends to pad out the rest of the claim.  It may not be entirely honest, but my jeans, for instance, cost 150 quid to buy a year ago, and I’m buggered if I’m going to let the airline get away with losing them and not covering the cost somehow.

However, on Wednesday, 5 days after I arrived in Italy, I receive a phone call.  My bag has been found!  Hooray!  The woman on the phone says that it should be delivered to me within 2 days.  I mentally start dressing myself warmly and reading books, and can hardly contain my excitement.  Will the bag arrive intact?  Yes!  It does!  I email mum to let her know.  Her surreal streak is clearly coming on apace; she replies, ‘That’s brilliant, scanned receipts are a not great uniform for teaching mad youngsters.’

My faith in Alitalia has been restored – but I resolve to get home via another airline in the summer.
Image by Kate Bailward

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About Kate Bailward

Kate Bailward is a cat-loving, trifle-hating, maniac driver. You can also find her on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+
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12 Responses to Man’s Best Friend

  1. Sarah says:

    You realize that is what is going to happen to us soon.

    Mummy brain in the later years.

    We too will whiffle strangely at our bemused children.

    Mind you, some days I think I am already there. Less "am turning" and more "have turned" into my mother.

    I'm sure she knows what she means LOL.

    Yey for the bags, they lost my sisters when she came for my wedding. that went down well. Not.

  2. Katja says:

    They have an absolutely SHOCKING track record for baggage. I was one of the lucky ones, from the sound of it, in that my luggage arrived (a) at all and (b) intact and complete. Did your sister's bag ever turn up or did it just disappear into the ether?

    On a related note, there was apparently some guy from Germany who was finally reunited with his luggage in 2003 – which was lost 24 years earlier when he travelled to Senegal for a holiday in 1979. The mind boggles!

  3. Pete says:

    I'm glad it turned up; and spot on with the reciepts, they should be held responsible for everything anyone has ever lost. ;-)

    Is your mum Salvador Dali?

  4. Katja says:

    More of a Man Ray, I'd say.

  5. Mikeachim says:

    Fie and damnation.

    I commented on this post the other day, from my phone, and when I clicked "send" it went straight back to your homepage. Evidently this was cunning blog-speak for "I've just eaten your comment, laadeedah".

    So I'll repeat myself from memory. (Dagnabbit).

    ….

    You blog superbly. In fact so much so that I got told off by my boss for reading this post at work and ignoring a printer which had run out of paper.

    So as well as thanking you, I'm suing you.

    Seriously. Keep this up. It's stellar.

    Anyway – Fiumicino. Sprawling and generally incoherent with flashes of brilliance. I drew some analogy with Boris Johnson's brain, the phrasing of which now escapes me. Maybe "it's like Boris Jonhson's brain". That might be it.

    And my luggage went missing when I arrived as well. I thought it was their fault, but in fact I was trying to collect it from the wrong terminal. But the people I was visiting all had their own Alitalia horror stories…

    I can recommend the less cheap, more time-costly option of using Trenitalia, although preferably at a time when the Eurostar trains aren't freezing to the tracks/ exploding icily etc.

  6. Mikeachim says:

    Ah, that's better. It's worked this time.

    Evidently my phone can't handle complexities like Captcha and suchforth.

    Lesson learnt. :)

  7. Katja says:

    Hooray for comments! You've made me blush, sir – but also made me snort with laughter. It's an attractive combination: purple of face and piglike of sound. Combined with the hacking cough I'm sporting as this season's latest accessory I'm a catch and no mistake.

    I considered Eurorailing it when I first travelled down here, but the cost put me off. I might yet do it on the way back, though. Now THERE would be an adventure, by Jove!

    *dons cap at jaunty angle*

  8. Katja says:

    ps – it's Blogspot, not you. Even I have to submit comments twice – and I own the bloody blog. Grr.

  9. Ggnitaly84 says:

    haha this post made me laugh.. I too have had problems with Alitalia… they lost my luggage and the subsequent wait to file a claim took 2 hours ( we werent the only ones ) and I almost missed my ride back to Florence ( this was Pisa ).. not a big fan of alitalia.. but the light at the end of the tunnel is ta-da you got your luggage safe and sound!

  10. jmisgro says:

    Were the Jasper Fford books in the luggage?? Thank God it was located…

  11. LindyLouMac says:

    Just found you via Sarah's blog! Great writing.
    As a reader myself I have found these sites great
    http://www.bookcrossing.com/mybookshelf/LindyLouMac
    or
    http://bookmooch.com. I am LindyLouMac there as well!
    If you are interested I have a book by Sophie Hannah about to travel around Italy to Bookcrossing friends. You can read my review at
    http:lindyloumacbookreviews.blogspot.com

  12. Katja says:

    Joanne: No, thankfully they were safely at home in England! He's brilliant, isn't he? I love the way he plays around with known characters.

    LindyLou: Thank you very much. :) I shall definitely look into the bookcrossing site – it's something that I've considered in the past but have never got round to actually doing. Now would seem like the perfect time to start, however.

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