Losing your flight or luggage is not fun. I cannot count how many flights I have taken the last years. However, losing my flight and luggage have just happened to me one time. And all I could do was to cry, and it actually solved the problem.
I had finished my master thesis in Nigeria, and was heading for Uganda. I went to the airport in good time, as always. However, my flight from Abuja to Lagos was delayed. This contributed to that I lost my connecting flight to Congo. Or I was supposed to lose it.
In Lagos I arrived 28 minutes before take-off. They had closed the check-in two minutes before. I begged them to please let me check in due to that my first flight was delayed, and that was not my fault. I also argued that it was still time until take-off. But the request was denied. I begged several times, to many different people working at the check-in. But it did not help.
“So if you won’t let me in what am I supposed to do??”, I asked the people working there in the end. I was told by one of the ladies to go up to the airlines office in the second floor to buy a new ticket in three days. I went, carrying my big suitcase up the stairs. I though all hope was out as I had used a lot of time downstairs trying to convince them to let me in, and now it was just a few minutes to take-off. I was really sad, tired and upset when I arrived the office. Firstly, because I had used so much money on the flight tickets that I though was lost. Secondly, because it was only two days until Christmas, and wanted to celebrate that with my friends in Uganda, and not alone in Lagos.
Before I managed to say a word to the lady behind the counter in the office, I started crying. Not on purpose, I could just not hold it in anymore. I tried to explain the situation while my tears was running down my cheeks. However, it was not easy to express any words.
The woman behind the counter did not say a word. She just went out the door of the office and waved to me to follow her. Together we went down to the check-in, and she demanded that they let me in. They did not have any other option than to do what she said, as she was their boss. Then it was just 10 minutes to take-off. I had to get one of the employees to follow me and run through the security and to the boarding. I was the last one entering to the flight.
I was so relieved when I was sitting down on my seat. I was so happy I did not give up. That I actually started to cry, as I am sure that was why the lady in the office helped me. If not, I would have lost my expensive flight tickets. Or maybe the insurance would have covered it. However, if I did not get on that flight I would have been forced to celebrate Christmas all alone. In addition, I would have lost out on a lot of fun with my friends in Uganda. As I do not think I would gone at all.
As innocent as I am, I understood later that probably they wanted money from me, and that was why they did not let me check-in. Lagos is one of the most corrupted cities in the world. However, even if I would have known that by then, I do not support corruption, so better that I did not understand that in that moment.
However, this was not the end of the problems of this trip. When I arrived to Congo, my luggage did not arrive. The workers told me to relax and that it would arrive to Uganda. It helped that I was up-graded to first class. But when I was in Uganda, the luggage was not their either.
However, I did not care that much about that my luggage did not arrive. I was just so happy and relieved to be in Uganda. That I actually had gotten on that flight when all hope seemed to be out. And I was so grateful that the lady in the office helped me. I also understood that as I was checked in just a few minutes before take-off, there was no chance that the luggage had enough time to arrive to the plane.
I was without luggage for five days. Also on Christmas. I had to buy some used clothes in the marked. The good thing was that the air-flight company returned some money, and so did my insurance company. Furthermore, my sister always advised me to put a couple of under-wears, and one change of clothes in the hand luggage in case the luggage gets lost. And that I was really happy I did that time. As well I usually put some toiletries in my hand luggage. Now, I do it every time I travel, and I would advise everyone to do the same. Just in case.
What I learned from this stressful experience, was to not give up if they do not want to let you in after check-in is closed. A little bit of crying helps as well. And if your luggage do not arrive, be calm. It most likely will. And if it don’t, you will get money to cover it. Everything will be solved in the end.
Have you ever lost your flight or luggage on your travels? What did you do?