The Joys Of International Travel

It is cold, very cold here in Europe.  Yesterday the high in Geneva was -1.  Today it is likely to be a high of -2.  There is snow and ice everywhere.  And there is a stiff breeze blowing which makes for interesting wind chill statistics.  It was snowing heavily in Frankfurt as we transited there on Monday and it was the 20th straight day of snow in Vancouver (first time in living memory) when we transited there on Sunday.


None of this would normally matter except for the fact that snow = chaos at airports and chaos = delays.  Into the mix Air New Zealand and Lufthansa have managed to lose 3 of our bags.  Mine arrived safely but the children (both young adults) lost everything.  So here we are in sub zero temperatures with the kids having lost all their warm weather clothes (a few of my bulkier items were in one of the bags also).


We knew one of the bags was missing as early as our flight from Vancouver to Frankfurt as one of the crew advised us that a bag had been left behind in Vancouver and that we would get it in Geneva one day late (this bag has somehow been lost again).  We can only guess that the other two bags went missing in Frankfurt.  We were in good company at the lost baggage office at Geneva Airport.  Around 10 other families on the flight from Frankfurt had bags not arrive.


To make matters worse – Swissport (the people who handle lost bags here on behalf of Lufthansa, Swiss International and several other airlines) – have developed an ingenious system which makes it impossible to speak to a human about ones predicament.  There is an automated message that asks us for information, but we can’t extract any information from them.  And you can’t bowl up to see them as they are located in the secure area of the airport.


Overnight the automated message says that the bags are still lost and can we provide a detailed inventory of contents (to help identification).  No offer of any compensation has been made, yet it is now essential we start buying some essential items to stop the kids from freezing.  Luckily there are lots of sales on.  Geneva is not normally the place to come for good value clothes shopping!!


This is now the third time in my travelling career that I have had bad stories to tell about bags and Frankfurt Airport.  And this is the second trip on MFAT in a row (MFAT pays for three family reunion flights a year) that has seen my son with a lost suitcase.  Both my son and I had bags head for Heathrow from Zurich as opposed to Hong Kong and New Zealand in July (we got both bags back intact a few days later).  It is also the third time in one year that I have had to queue up at lost baggage offices (I had a bag go missing on a Wellington-Brisbane flight in May).  I do travel more than most but it is now becoming a one in three trip experience, odds that I don’t think are acceptable.  Actually it is worse than this.  On a trip back from either China or Japan earlier in the year my bag arrived back in New Zealand and cleared customs etc only to be lost between Auckland and Wellington (it arrived in Wellington about four hours after I did and I was able to pick it up at the airport on my way home).  For my son, who travels less than I do, this last twelve months have seen a bag go missing on two out of three trips.


So day one of our holiday in Geneva has been ruined and day two looks set to be equally messy.  I hope readers are enjoying nice warm weather. I will revert to more important topics in due course, but feel a bit better now having vented my spleen.  This situation also explains why I have not been posting.


I hope that David Walker and his lovely wife Freddie have better luck than we do in a few days.  David is travelling up to Geneva to be our next WTO Ambassador.  He and Freddie are travelling through Vancouver also.  If you read this David make sure you carry some warm gear in your carry ons.


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