Drunkard and Lost Luggage Create Flying Fiasco

July 26, 2014

in Odds & Ends Stories

Only minutes before takeoff, the seat beside me was still vacant when at the very last moment a harried looking man, clutching a well-worn bag and sweating profusely, looked in my direction as the stewardess pointed him to the last remaining seat. He stuffed his bag in the overhead bin and slumped down beside me. “Nearly bloody missed it,” he snorted as he wiped sweat from his face and fidgeted with his seat belt. I could smell booze as he leaned towards me, pushing his knees into the seat in front causing the woman in the seat to turn round and glare at him. “Sorry Ma’am, just trying to fit in,” he said with a grin. I turned and looked out of the window trying to ignore him, thinking it was just my luck to have a drunk sit next to me, when I saw what looked like our suitcases on a stationary trolley as the plane taxied towards the runway.

The seats were really small and I too had difficulty fitting my knees into the small space, finally turning them at an angle. Eating was going to be difficult, as the tray would not lie flat to place anything on safely. Headsets were being handed out for the feature film. My daughter bought some only to discover that the main feature was in Icelandic with no subtitles. We all had a good chuckle and my spirits lifted thinking about our trip to England to spend time with my wife’s father in Wales. My granddaughter would be seeing her great-grandfather who was 92 for the first time in her life. I had a good feeling about this holiday and was looking forward to the flight after all.

I could never have been more wrong. The pest next to me began ordering double gin and tonics whilst complaining about the seating and the absence of ice for his drink. “What sort of Mickey Mouse airline is this anyway,” he blurted to several passengers who by now were looking at him. The stewardess looked at me, rolled her eyes, then smiled at the friendly drunk as she gave him his fifth gin.

The seats were uncomfortable, and for myself with two total knee replacements, found that I could no longer remain seated in the same position for any longer. I had no option but to get up and walk towards the back of the plane. “Another gin and tonic,” I heard the pest yell out to the stewardess as she disappeared through the curtain, and in an even louder voice said, “and find some bloody ice.” Standing at the back of the plane, I got chatting with a young couple who also mentioned that they had also seen what looked like their suitcases on a trolley as the plane departed.

The film finished and passengers were told to fasten seat belts due to rough weather ahead. I got back to my seat hoping that the friendly drunk was asleep, but as I sat down he ordered another gin. I was entertained for the remainder of the flight with him telling me and the rest of the passengers how he was going to write a letter of complaint about this Mickey Mouse airline; his main concern was that there was no ice for his gin.

Finally we landed in Reykjavik, Iceland. There would be a short break whilst passengers lined up to get boarding passes for the flight to Gatwick. I could not believe what I saw – angry, frustrated passengers complaining about the time they had to wait while the airport staff made out boarding passes with a pen. Apparently the computers were not functioning. Each pass was hand written and it was taking too much time. The plane would be leaving late, and passengers with connections at Gatwick going to further destinations would miss their next flight. Our friendly drunk was right about the poor service. All the shops were closed; the only thing open were the toilets.

Eventually we went through security only to discover that there were two more security checks. I began to wonder if in fact there was an alert of some sort; nobody seemed to know anything. Finally we were permitted to board the plane and resume our flight to Gatwick. On entering the plane I discovered that our seating had been changed and my friendly drunk got to entertain another group of passengers. Most passengers were tired including the drunk (I think the steward cut him off the gin). Seated now in the first four rows, I turned and noticed that passengers were sleeping; I too closed my eyes.

We awoke to an announcement that we would be landing in 20 minutes. As the plane taxied to a halt we gathered our carry-on luggage, everyone thankful that the plane had made it safely and our uncomfortable flight was over. The airline had yet another surprise in store for all the passengers…

The real nightmare was just about to begin as we stood gazing hopefully at the empty carousel, wishing our luggage to appear. Not one case could be seen. The airline had managed to misplace the luggage for the entire plane. Tempers flared, patience had run out, people were very angry when it became obvious that the luggage had not been stored on our plane. There were passengers who were going to a wedding in Frankfurt who not only had no luggage, but also had missed the connecting flight and had to rebook and pay again. Friends of mine had wisely only used carry-on luggage with backpacks and were able to continue through without any problems. The rest of us had to fill out lost luggage forms and hope that the luggage would turn up by the next day.

Tired, disgruntled and impatient, I stood in yet another line at the Hertz rental kiosk. An hour passed by during which time I had calmed down and accepted what had passed. The girl at Hertz upgraded my booking for no extra charge having felt sorry for our tale of woe.

As we drove to our destination in Wales we laughed about our experience, and looking on the bright side said we would get to buy some new clothes. After booking in at our hotel in Caerphilly, having only the clothes we stood in, we found a supermarket and bought essentials. I found a helpful assistant who took me through the store suggesting what I should buy. I spent £145.00.

What a fiasco. Our luggage finally arrived eight days later. Compensation was $100.00 apiece, hardly enough to cover our losses. Our traveller’s nightmare had finally come to an end.

Michael Charles Scholfield
Calgary, Canada

{ 10 comments… read them below or add one }

flossiesdoll July 27, 2014 at 4:13 pm

Why do you say you were going on a trip to England to visit someone in Wales? They are different countries.


Bravo July 29, 2014 at 11:16 am


Your right, England and Wales are different countries.

But they along with Scotland and Northern Ireland are all part of Great Britain ( or to use the full name The United Kingdom of Great Britain) just like America is comprised of individual states.

Also the major international airports (Heathrow & Gatwick) are located in England. The best analogy I can think of is someone from abroad visiting family in New Jersey having to use JFK International in New York.


flossiesdoll August 9, 2014 at 4:02 pm

Northern Ireland is not part of Great Britain. It is part of the UK, which is the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Saying you're going to England to visit people in Wales makes as much sense as saying you're going to California to visit someone in Idaho.


James August 9, 2014 at 4:25 pm

Saying you're going to England to visit people in Wales makes as much sense as saying you're going to California to visit someone in Idaho.

I don't know. First — on the analogy, at least there is a direct land border between Wales and England — there is none between Idaho and California.

Indeed, there are no direct commercial flights from North America to any Welsh airport to the best of my knowledge. Whilst I might say "I was flying into London to go visit someone in Wales," technically this leg of the trip is "a trip to England." even if just a layover. I'll note that when I was going to St. Andrews (in Scotland) for school, I'd always inform the checkin clerks at the airport I was "going to London" since that is where the flight ended. And since this is "flights from hell" and not "vacation trips from hell" I'd give the original poster some leeway.

Pedantic, I know, but the original complaint was equally pedantic.


flossiesdoll August 9, 2014 at 5:32 pm

It's not pedantic if you're from one of the three UK countries which are not England, and where people are sick of ignorant people using "England" to describe the whole of the UK.


James August 9, 2014 at 10:28 pm

So, you're saying the flight isn't landing at an English airport? When I am going to fly from San Francisco to visit friends in Edinburgh, I should tell the check in clerk I am flying to "London, Scotland?"


GSTQueen September 18, 2014 at 4:24 pm

Not ignorant. I, for one, know that Wales and Scotland are sort of toy states (don't know about Scotland, they haven't counted the votes as I am writing this), but guess what? I just don't care. England is your master, so I just use England. It's easier on the tongue and everyone understands what I mean.


prp August 9, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Two Icelandic stories in a row……What are the odds!


luccia August 12, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Maybe call the flight Canada to Italy? No passport control means same country, right?


flossiesdoll October 4, 2014 at 2:16 pm

GSTQueen, you're either woefully ignorant or deliberately offensive. Either way, it's sad.


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