I had been on the island of Oahu and visited several other islands while taking a dream vacation for three weeks. I am a woman. I do not necessarily enjoy it, but I shop. As usual, I shopped more for others than myself because everyone and their in-laws wanted souvenirs.
My luggage was packed meticulously, carefully, expertly, and perfectly due to the amount of stuff I had in them. Yes, it took sitting on two of the pieces to close them and yes, I had to pay extra for the excess weight. I was thinking it was a good thing I had taken this vacation, as it could possibly be my last! I was still spending money on my return trip home! Of course, I bought pineapples at the airport. In retrospect, I could have gone to my local grocer when I got home and saved a few bucks. No one would have known.
The name on my baggage claim identification ticket was the same as my E-ticket. It listed my first name as Avise and last name, Ward that was correct. My middle initial is “E” so when I heard Avise (sounded like A-vize) over the intercom, I didn’t recognize I was being paged. I arrive at the departure gate to check-in and was told baggage claim had been paging me and needed the combination to my luggage.
That dreaded feeling came over me. My meticulously, carefully, expertly, and perfectly packed luggage was about to have its contents strewn all over tables and the floor. I made sure the forbidden carryon items were not with me and my laptop was in the luggage along with souvenirs for everyone in Florida and South Carolina. What looked suspicious to them?
Me being who I am (by the way, I’m better at being myself than anyone else) asked the flight attendant at the gate if she would please call baggage claim and plead with them to be extremely careful with the contents of my luggage. She did as I asked because I was very polite and smiled throughout the whole scenario. My smile was nothing more than sheer terror and nervousness. I knew this security measure would be the one snafu to my dream vacation in paradise.
I continued with my trip home with thoughts of the lovely time I had on vacation. I also had images of my personal effects sticking out the sides of my luggage as jute rope held my luggage together. I really didn’t like not being present as strangers plundered through my personal articles. This unnerved me to no end but exhaustion won, and I fell fast asleep.
Arriving in San Francisco, I thought of my luggage requiring inspection again. I was a bit frantic. I listened for my name over the intercom but departed San Francisco on time and without being asked for the combination again. Then I thought, of course not, it wasn’t locked when the pieces left Oahu! More rope! We all know a female handler would have used duct tape.
I read from San Francisco to Atlanta. Images of the horrible condition my luggage was in floated through my mind the same as the story I was reading. To bring this to an end, I was surprised at baggage claim as my lovely set of Hartmann pieces emerged from behind the secret wall. (If you want my endorsement, buy Hartmann luggage.)
Not one piece of my luggage was in disarray, crushed or damaged. Rope was no where to be found. It was even locked! A wide neon pink sticker showed it had been inspected on Oahu and the inspector’s number was given, with a phone number. This was very official (I kept it as a souvenir). Unbeknownst to me, this sticker eliminated the need for inspection in San Francisco.
Upon arriving home, I found nothing missing, damaged, or soiled. I couldn’t believe the contents looked as I had packed the luggage pieces myself. I was overjoyed and in awe. Inside each inspected piece, was a business card of the inspector. How incredible to me! The pineapple looked as if it had come from the local grocer but my purse knew otherwise.
I knew I wasn’t a terrorist or risk to the population but they didn’t. That baggage claim security crew did their jobs and took care of the traveler’s personal possessions, too. For me, it was a nuisance but a very necessary one. The terror was in my mind, and they were not a real threat. I was, potentially. “I” was inconvenienced, upset, anxious and annoyed but strict Airline Security in our present-day world is a must. I want every checkpoint to be as thorough as the one at Oahu International Airport. My hope is every harmless traveler will be safe, even if it’s a nuisance or we are inconvenienced.