Goodbye, Samsonite: Missed Flights and Lost Luggage from LA to Chicago

We’ve all had less than pleasant travel experiences, but a travel nightmare is when all of the regular nuisances of personal travel combine to create a perfect storm of frustration and inconvenience. I had just such an experience this summer while traveling on a business trip from Los Angeles to Chicago.

I’ll skip the uneventful parts because I arrived at my gate with plenty of time. I still had an hour to give. My only problem seemed to be that I would be last to board because of my mile-high zone number. This wasn’t a problem until I attempted to step onto the plane.

“I’m sorry sir, but we do not have room in the overhead compartment for your luggage. We are going to have to check your bag,” the young flight attendant sprayed into my face.

“I’ll give you my bag,” I said as I looked at the pilot to my right, “but I really need this bag in Chicago, so can you make certain it gets under the plane?”

The pilot laughed. I didn’t.

“Sir, we’ll take good care of your luggage for you. Please feel free to board the plane while we check your bag.”

Good bye, bag.

Knowing I had a 47 minute layover in Minneapolis before a connecting flight to Chicago, I was pleased to be boarding the plane on time. Early, in fact. 10 minutes. We pulled away from the gate and I tried my best not to think about the fact that I would never see my poor little Samsonite ever again.

Just because you begin your taxi on time doesn’t mean that you’ll take off on time. I watched the minutes tick by on the cell phone I didn’t turn off (is that why this happened?). 5 minutes. 25 minutes. 45 minutes later and now I begin to worry about my next flight.

We arrived in Minneapolis exactly 45 minutes late. We’d taken off an hour after schedule, but our pilot evidently knew a shortcut to shave 15 minutes of flight time. The same slobbering flight attendant came on the intercom and said, “Ladies and gentlemen, thank you for choosing our airline. We ask that you please remain seated and allow those with connecting flights to deplane first so that they may make their flights. Thank you for your cooperation.”

I ran from my seat to my connecting flight’s departure gate with my computer bag tucked underneath my arm like an NFL running back. I sprinted past the gate agent announcing connecting gates. “Chicago!” I yelled without stopping, “C14!” he shouted back. I never broke stride.

I made it to Chicago on the next flight out (my flight Chicago had begun its taxi early as well), and I made it to the rest of my appointments that day in the slacks and shirt I had on. For the next two days I wore new clothes. Luckily, I guess, the shopping on the Magnificent Mile was abundant. I suppose I needed new shirts, anyway. My luggage was returned to me, as well. 5 days later, back in Los Angeles.