By Olga Kaczmar, Newhall Community Contributor
Why was I working so hard to retrieve this dumb suitcase? Now I’m convinced there was a demon connected to the luggage. It was the riding boots inside which I needed. I had spent a fun week at Chukka Cove without luggage. Hotel staff gave me clothing and boots to ride and shorts to swim in the pool, and later I bought some clothing at the local bazaar. It didn’t seem worth it to pay another $100 cab ride to pick up the darned suitcase to clear it through customs. Staff drove me back to Jamaica-Jamaica hotel so that I could call the airline to ask them if I could pick up the luggage on Saturday prior to my flight home and take it onboard.
After several attempts the operator told me she could not get a line to the Airline. The ‘bush telephone’ route began again. They told me the airfreight was closed Saturday and no one else could clear my luggage through Customs. I tried to relay to the Airline to put the luggage on the flight without clearing customs. They insisted I had to claim it first. It didn’t make sense that a manager couldn’t expedite the suitcase out of airfreight and put it on a flight since it never left their storage. Now why did it have to go through Customs?
After I was home, I was told it was sent back to US via airfreight again. They said I couldn’t track my suitcase without an air bill number and the air bill freight was now another $210 dollars.
So far this luggage is costing me $520 freight, $100 cab, paying staff to drive me, and a lot of futile frustration… but I still wanted my riding boots. I blamed myself for not meeting the original airline to New York. If the baggage had traveled with me, it would have cost me nothing. I wrote to the Airlines asking them to waive the additional freight charges because there was nothing in the suitcase of value except my riding boots. Nobody could have anticipated so many bizarre communication problems that I encountered trying to pick up the luggage.
But this wasn’t the end of the elusive suitcase. They couldn’t find the suitcase since I didn’t have the air bill number. The luggage was finally found in Montego Bay, but wasn’t released because it had another $74 Customs charge on it. The Airline personnel paid the bill and routed it through JFK airport. Then it went missing. One month later, after tracking the suitcase across the US, it arrived in LAX.
But this wasn’t the end of the suitcase saga. I took off from work to retrieve the suitcase but ran into one traffic jam after another. After three attempts I found the airfreight office where my suitcase was supposed to be. There was another $92 bill waiting for storage fees. Then I was sent to Customs. Oh no, not Customs again! I had to drive to it and it wasn’t clearly marked, so I followed a map. After two more tries, I waited in the Customs line, explained my sad story and a woman agent finally stamped my papers and rerouted me to another location. I got lost again. Now I’m fighting for time to get there before closing. I’m stressed to the max.
Once there, they couldn’t find my suitcase. No kidding! They were trying to close shop and I insisted they find it. I didn’t want to pay for another day of storage charges.
Finally, the man brought me the box. I had told them it was a suitcase but someone had put it in a box. Hooray!
It was an unbelievable punishing sequence of events just because I remembered the wrong flight time. This didn’t ruin my vacation, however, because Chukka Cove was absolutely fun in every way.