Press-Republican

June 13, 2012

Lost luggage bane of trip

By SUSAN TOBIAS, Pinch of Time
Press-Republican

---- — I have just returned from 10 days in Colorado, relaxing and busy all at the same time, high-school graduations being the highlight.

Grandson Jesse Baker and granddaughter Maylea Young both excelled at CIVA Charter School, earning awards for best attendance and being the top students in mathematics, science and social studies. They were also part of a three-student video team to win the school $10,000, second place in the state.

Traveling to Colorado with me were granddaughter Kayla Estes, great-granddaughter Gabrielle Estes and granddaughter Kaitlyn Gardner, 13, who, on her first flight, was a little nervous but quickly relaxed.

We also enjoyed a long weekend at a lodge near the Continental Divide, walking the Garden of the Gods, seeing a college-theater presentation of “Hairspray” and eating great food.

Kayla and Gabby stayed for a longer visit. Katie and I got up at 5:30 a.m. June 2. Our daughter Carrie Lee drove us one hour north to Denver International Airport to depart at 9 a.m.

Moving away from the terminal, the captain announced a red light showed engine problems, but not to worry, in an hour we’d be in flight and could make our connections. He shouldn’t have been so sure of himself. On arrival in Atlanta, we checked the monitor, and our flight had left eight minutes before we got there.

The Delta service-desk employee said, “You can stay overnight in Atlanta, all expenses paid … No, wait, they have you re-booked on a flight to Minneapolis-St. Paul at Gate A1, and it’s leaving shortly, so get down there right now!”

Remembering we were at Gate A32, we hastened to the new gate, only to be told that the flight doesn’t leave for an hour. We sank into uncomfortable chairs, tired and just wanting to be in Albany. Soon we boarded and were upgraded to “plus seats,” probably to appease our grumbly looks.

In Minneapolis-St.Paul, we easily maneuvered from Concourse G/Gate 32 to Concourse A/Gate 17. After we ate, we heard the flight was canceled due to mechanical problems but a smaller aircraft would be provided. We would be leaving an hour later than scheduled, and the flight was overbooked. Many took the airline offer to give up their seat for a $400 voucher, and we eventually boarded.

All this time, I’m praying that my husband, Toby, didn’t leave home until he checked the answering machine, on which I had left a message telling him that my 5 p.m. arrival in Albany was now close to midnight.

I eventually found out that he had left Plattsburgh after having coffee at Campus Corner without going home and checking the machine. Thankfully, he had waited seven hours for us, but he said another 15 minutes, and he was headed to Plattsburgh.

My luggage was small enough to carry on. Katie’s was 3 inches too wide, so it had to be paid for and checked. It didn’t make it to Albany when we did.

We filed a claim and were told it would be in Albany the next day at 11:30 a.m., with delivery that afternoon to Schuyler Falls, near Plattsburgh. We spelled both locations, plus zip codes. I reminded her that we live two and a half hours north of Albany and that it was Sunday. She said it would be delivered.

Sunday night came, and no luggage. I called Delta; they said it was assigned for delivery ... to Ogdensburg on Cape Air. Ogdensburg? I called Cape Air, Ogdensburg, and a very sympathetic employee named Bryan said it was there, marked for delivery to Rennselaer Falls, about 10 miles from Ogdensburg. Could he send it to Plattsburgh by Fedex or UPS? He couldn’t do that because his manager was away on two weeks vacation, and he had no authority.

He said it could be put back on Cape Air to Albany, then sent to Boston and then to Saranac Lake, the only way to get it close to Plattsburgh.

At about 4 p.m. Monday, Cape Air agent Ron called from Lake Clear Airport, near Saranac Lake. The suitcase was there. How did we want to get it? Fortunately, Ron lives in Plattsburgh and volunteered, on his own time, to meet me on Route 9 for the hand over of the luggage. Can you believe it?

Needless to say, when Toby and I drove the luggage to Peasleeville, Katie was one happy person. She had her best jeans, new clothes and souvenirs in that suitcase — important items to a teen.

So the question is: Will Katie fly again after all this rigmarole? She said, “Yes” — if I will take her to London next time. Oh, the dreams of youth! I’m getting too old for this.

One last thought, please be kind to each other. The world needs more kindness.