Almost three weeks ago, my hold-all and I were on our way to a holiday in the Dordogne. Instead, it and I parted company at the easyJet check-in at Gatwick on 11 August, the day after the new security clamp-down was launched. And, while I made it to Toulouse, my bag is still languishing under a mountain of untagged luggage at the UK airport…probably.
I say probably because it is impossible to get any information on my luggage’s whereabouts out of easyJet. Up to 30 minutes of listening to a recorded message gets you through to a very pleasant call centre operator who does a few tappety-taps on her keyboard and gives me a more breezy version of the catchphrase familiar to any Little Britain fans: “Computer says nah”. In other words, they have no information on where my bag might be. No hunch, beyond that it is most likely at Gatwick. And if it’s lost its tag – like that’s down to my carelessness – it’s like searching for a needle in haystack. It might, they say, take five weeks to find.
Now I know in the whole scheme of things, compared with ruined family holidays and – God forbid – the terrorists being successful, my bag being lost for a month or more (together with BlackBerry, house keys, spectacles and spare contact lenses) is a minor inconvenience. I made it to Toulouse and had a very pleasant vacation. And if resources are scarce, I’d much rather the ground staff at Gatwick were concentrating on finding the bad guys and their Dr Pepper explosives than searching for my bag. But it’s just another small example of airport operator BAA’s inability to cope with the crisis.
Three weeks ago, the day before my holiday, I blogged about how Gatwick and the great British traveller were coping heroically with the new security regulations. The fact that the infrastructure coped at all I suppose was a minor triumph. But travelling through Gatwick again yesterday, two and a half weeks after the new regulations were imposed, there did not seem to be any undue pressure on the system. The August holiday rush is over. Why finding a very distinctive bag is still such a problem baffles me.