a little and a lot

Monday, January 08, 2007

The Carousel of Conniption

It is the one thing I avoid on every trip no matter what. But I could not escape it this time.
It is the luggage carousel at the airport baggage claim.

Nick and I have spent the past week and a half visiting my parents in Atlanta for New Year's, flying to gorgeous Colorado Springs for NCYM (a youth ministry conference) and back, and then driving (dog in tow) back to Memphis. There will be more about that later, but two nights ago as I was experiencing my pet of peeves, I thought, "I must blog about this."

If you have ever traveled with me, you KNOW I hate checking my bag. Really really hate it. In fact, I pride myself on packing for the longest amounts of time in the smallest carry-on bag possible. NCYM is a time for me to really shine in this area because the conference is held in Colorado Springs every other year. This means a week of cold weather clothes must be smooshed into a roller-bag small enough to put in the overhead bin. Yesssssss...

I have attended this conference for six years prior to this one and each year I was successful in my endeavors of carrying-on. But this year was a first. It all started when I began to calculate how many items made up of liquids/gels that I would need to bring. Ok, I thought to myself, I can put my hair styling items in little travel bottles...check. But I HAVE to bring my full-size special toothpaste without sodium lauryl sulfate because it's the only kind that doesn't give me mouth ulcers. And my hand lotion...I can't forget that because of the dry Colorado air. Which reminds me, I'll need my lip gloss too. Ooo, what about moisturizer for my face? Then came the problem of not having a quart-sized clear plastic baggie within my possession. Which means I only had a sandwich-sized clear plastic baggie, which would not even fit my must-have toothpaste. (These are the things that cause me to say Why, God, must I be a freak of nature who requires special toothpaste?!) Curse those new airline regulations! A girl must be able to brush her teeth!

Regardless, it all boiled down to one thing: we were going to have to check our stinkin bags.

Which leads me to the point of this post...
The Airport Baggage Carousel:
  • Peeve #1: You are lucky if your luggage even sees this dreaded arena. Has an airline every lost your luggage? Not mine...because I CARRY-ON MY BAGS! The first time in years that I checked my luggage was on the way back from my Hawaii honeymoon (which I promise to blog about in a slow mid-winter moment...get ready for THAT story!!). We had a layover in a Denver before we headed on to Memphis. Evidently our luggage did not care to join us during the second leg of our flight, for when we finally kissed the ground of the Memphis airport (I'm telling you, you don't want to miss that story!), we were told that our luggage would arrive later that weekend. Served me right. (If you need a real fact to bag this opinion up, how about this: I just read in TIME magazine that luggage was lost by airlines twice as much this past year than the year before. Comforting, eh?)
After we had settled into our seats on our plane in Atlanta, readying ourselves for the flight to CO, Nick and I noticed that they were loading the luggage directly below us on the plane. 3 suitcases had been awkwardly placed on top of the baggage train, and two of them belonged to us. We watched as all of the suitcases were loaded below us...all except for the three forgotten on top. Then we watched as the baggage train/cart thingy drove away with our luggage. And what could we do?

Luckily, it seems our luggage was merely loaded onto another part of the plane and it ended up making the trip with us.

  • Peeve #2: Why is there no seating in the Baggage Claim area of any airport? There should be, because once you hurry off of your plain and hurry on the trams and escalators down to the correct area, you then must proceed to wait for an obscene amount of time before any bags start popping out of the giant luggage pez dispenser.
  • Peeve #3: As the bags circle 'round, who is to tell which is which? They are all identical rectangular boxes in dirty shades of black or variations of the aforementioned. (Except for mine, which has colorful sea green, white, and khaki flowers on it, thanks to Gap.)
  • Peeve #4 (and this is the one that really gets me): WHY must everyone stand as close as they can to the carousel???!!! The people that do the right thing, standing an appropriate distance away so that everyone can see the bags and step up when they see their own passing by, these are the people that get punished because the airport-etiquette-ignorant people step right in front of them, blocking their view. Thus, the shiny round conveyor belt is crammed with people looking over each other's shoulders because no one can see the bags. And then when that lady finally sees her oversized Samsonite that she HAD to bring just so she could fit all of her clothing options and/or pet elephant inside, she swings it off of the carousel out towards the knees of everyone else, dropping it on the feet of her neighbors. My friends, this should not be.

I will not even begin to mention how if you hand off your luggage to the airlines they are free to look at any and everything you have packed and that the lacy underwear you carefully folded and hid between a chunky sweater is now exposed and strewn all over the top layer of your suitcase for all to see when you open it just for a second to grab a magazine you placed on top but is now deeply buried in the middle of your chunky sweater.

Oh the depravity of it all.


Unknown said...

Do you think air travel is easier in areas of the world unconcerned with terrorist activity, or does no such place exist in 2007?

Mommy of Boys said...

You are cracking me up, Jesse! I'm glad you're back safe and sound now.

Tesney said...

My major complaint with checking: your bags get destroyed. We fly to Montana all the time to see Greg's fam and we've had to replace our luggage twice in 6 years. Ridiculous. AND, it once got completely soaked, inside and out, when they de-iced the wings with our bags sitting underneath waiting to be put on the plane...UGH! I'm going to try your method of not checking although I think it will be impossible with a baby!

Anonymous said...

Back in college I was the queen of mouth ulcers... it never failed, just when one was almost gone here came another. It was misery. I, too, have struggled with this and eventually did enough research to learn about the sodium laurel sulfate deal. I switched to the hard to find, ultra expensive SLS free toothpaste for a few years. Someone should look into making that with a good taste for a change- don't you think? Anyway, one time I was on a trip and I ran out, so I went back to Colgate... fearing what would soon greet me in my mouth. But to my surprise I never got another ulcer. I don't know if you can grow out of it, or it's a stress thing, but I'm back to normal toothpaste now and my mouth thanks me. So you never know, maybe one day you can fall off the wagon of being SLS free toothpaste dependant! Just my 2 cents... - Kim

Jesse Faris said...

That major stinks about the de-icing experience and I completely agree about how checking your bags make them so dirty or ruined! My pretty luggage has dirty black and brown smudges all over it.

I tried switching back to Crest one time. I was good for two weeks and was so excited. THEN, I got the worst ulcer I have EVER gotten. I will never do that again! However, I did find some special non-SLS toothpaste on the internet (isn't that so dorky?) that I love using--It still has a sharp minty taste. The website for it is: www.verveultra.com

Blessed said...

Ok, I am the lady that you hate carrying the oversized Samsonite, except I am actually much worse, Jesse! Can you teach me your ways?

I am known for being the worst packer alive. I can't even pack for overnight without looking like I'm coming for a month. I just can't stand the thought of traveling somewhere far away and then not having everything I might need, or get there without an important accessory! ;)

Funny honeymoon story. We were checking all of our bags at the counter, and the man starts laughing and gets on the loud speaker and says, "Hey, everybody, check out these 2 honeymooners with 7 pieces of luggage!! All they really need for Cancun is a bathing suit!" I mean, he kept going with it too! I was mortified, but not enough to make me stop!

Ashley @ pure and lovely said...

I hate flying, period. when jamin and i went to california a month ago, they had just made the no fluids rule. jamin had packed everything in his carryon. everything. shaving cream, contact solution, toothpaste, etc. thats expensive stuff when the greedy little check in people take it and put it in an evidence bin...aka, this is what im taking home to my girl after work bin...

I hate carosels, too. people are so greedy getting their stuff. and airlines are pretty incompetent about transfering your bags from one flight to another, thus ultimately ending in lost luggage. which reminds me, i really need to visit that place that has lost luggage. that would be awesome. their loss is my gain! thanks, incompetent airline workers.

Julie said...

I tie a brightly colored ribbon around my square black bag when I check it so it sticks out as much as possible.

I used to hate checking my bag, but now I am a fan for several reasons.

1. Usually where I am going involves a layover. Dragging my suitcase, purse, boarding pass, driver's license, ipod, gossip rag magazine and diet coke requires more than two hands. And I always have to pee and it never fits in the stall with me. It is so nice to just be free of the big bags as you have to cruise on and off planes.

2. The times when I have had difficulty with my luggage and it was their fault, I threw a stink and got some sort of compensation. Then again, they have never gotten lost enough to ruin a trip or anything. Just a couple hours behind me.

I do, however, loathe the people who crowd the carousel as well and make it difficult for you. This is a place where chivalry is most often dead and 10 good sized men will watch you struggle getting your big bag off by yourself.

Here is another tip (I used to work at an airline in the summertime): if you "gate check" your bag, they will hand it back to you when you are getting off the plane. This is how you do that: get on last and then tell the flight attendant that you need to gate check your bag because there are no more overhead compartments. Then they will check it, it gets put in the closest spot next to the luggage door, and they bring it up the jet bridge to you when you get where you are going. This works like a charm and I have done it myself many a time.

Brooke said...

welcome to the world of grownups who check their bags. its been time.

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