I travel frequently for my job, so it comes as no surprise that I’ve run into more than my fair share of travel nightmares. But the worst story from my travels comes from a trip last year before Christmas, when my boyfriend and I went to visit his family.
The flight from Seattle to Sacramento is a relatively short one, but apparently can be fraught with unknown perils for your luggage. We had a large bag full of clothing that we needed to check for our flight, since we preferred to carry on the presents that we had bought for his nieces and nephews. When we checked the suitcase, I watched the airline employee put the correct tag on the bag. I had flown to Sacramento previously, so I was sure that the airport code on our tag was right.
When we arrived in Sacramento, we waited near the baggage carousel for a long time. At one point, the carousel got clogged up in the back, and stopped bringing bags out. After the baggage handlers sorted things out and the bags began moving again, I was certain that we would see our big blue suitcase any minute. The conveyor belt stopped again, and airport employees assured us that all of the bags had been brought off the plane.
At the airline’s counter, a harried employee who had already lost his voice dug through computer records in an attempt to find our missing bag. He was able to track it down as having been sent to San Diego. For those not familiar with airport codes, Sacramento is SMF, while San Diego is SAN. I was utterly baffled as to how this mix-up could have occurred. But I thanked my lucky stars that we had carried on the presents for all of the kids, and gave the airline employee the information he would need to have our bags delivered to Stockton, where we would be staying. He assured us that the bags would be delivered that night by 8 p.m., and that they would not just leave them on the porch.
We stayed up talking to my boyfriend’s mom well past 10 p.m., hoping that any moment, the doorbell would ring, and our clothes would have arrived. Finally, after checking the porch one last time in case our bag had been left outside, we all began to prepare for bed. A few minutes later, we heard my boyfriend’s mom open the front door and talk to someone. Our bag had finally arrived, and had the delivery driver not seen someone moving around inside of the house, he was planning to just leave it on the porch.
Although lost luggage is an occasional result of traveling with checked bags, this has been the only time this travel nightmare has happened to me. We were fortunate, and got our bag and its contents before we needed to go out shopping for replacement items, but not everyone is so lucky. This incident has changed the way I pack for travel, though, always ensuring that we carry on at least some essentials so that we are not left without clean clothes and toiletries if our luggage decides to take a side trip without us again.