Lost Luggage Full of Contraband

Practically everyone has a tale of lost luggage. Mine includes a $90 bottle of 10 year old rum, some contraband coffee beans, smuggled fruit and foreign currency.

Our first trip to the islands of the West Indies was a great adventure! My daughter and I toured a 16th century sugar plantation and rum distillery. They offered rum tasting as a standard part of the tour. One taste was enough to convince me that it was worth spending US$90 on a medium sized bottle of really good 10 year old rum.

Custom inscribed bottle of 10 year old rum.

Custom inscribed bottle of 10 year old rum.

We also toured a coffee plantation where we had some of the best coffee we’d ever tasted. While there, we managed to convince our guide to give us about 1/4lb. of the plantation’s fresh, unroasted coffee beans.

On our wanders about the islands, we picked mangoes and chanats right off the tree. We ate them fresh but also had a bunch left over to bring back home with us.

We also have a long-standing tradition that on every trip to a foreign land, we collect one of each of the country’s denominations of coins and all the smaller bills. We have collections of money from every country we’ve ever visited.

So it was that on our return from the West Indies we had one suitcase filled with dirty laundry, a really expensive bottle of rum and all this illegal contraband.

Leave it to the airlines to lose that suitcase.

They quickly located the suitcase when I called. It was still in Miami, having not made it onto our connecting flight. I was assured that they had already put it onto another plane to be forwarded on.

Here is one weak point to my travel planning strategy: we flew out of Reagan National Airport in Washington, DC. That’s nearly two hours drive from my house but the price difference for flights usually makes it worth it.

Since that is where my flight originated and ended, that’s where they sent the lost suitcase.

After explaining this to the airline, they offered to forward it on to Philadelphia which is only 30 minutes from me.

The airline really was trying to be helpful and accommodating so they also offered to have someone deliver it right to my house.

I should have known better.

My friends all joked that the delivery driver would show up on my doorstep drunk, empty bottle of rum in hand, wearing my clothes and holding out the tattered remains of my suitcase.

The reality was almost as comical.

Not many people know that there is such a place as Newark, Delaware. So when my “lost” suitcase arrived at the airport in Philadelphia, a well-meaning airline employee saw that it was to be delivered to my home in Newark and put it on a flight to Newark, New Jersey.

I had to call the lost luggage counter at the airport in Newark, New Jersey and have them put my bag on a flight back to Philadelphia. Then I had to call the lost luggage counter at the airport in Philadelphia and ask them to just hold onto it. I would come pick it up in person.

Another drive to another airport and after visiting four cities in four days, my red suitcase finally came home with me. Thankfully rum, fruit and money were all unmolested.

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