By Joanna Bastian

Everyone has a holiday travel story filled with unfortunate events. Here’s another one for the books.

I don’t normally check a bag, but this year I decided to take advantage of the convenient option of checked bags — roomier suitcase, space for gifts, and all the liquids a woman desires. We planned to take a flight from Wenatchee to Seattle, enjoy a leisurely dinner and a restful night’s sleep before our flight to Britain the next day. These plans were futile, beginning with the checked bag.

After landing in Seattle, we strolled to baggage claim with the other passengers to wait for bags that never arrived. While my husband walked the length of the airport baggage area searching for our bag, I stood in a long line at customer service. Apparently, all the bags were lost. All I wanted was dinner, a cup of tea, my liquids, and my comfortable pajamas from my checked bag. It was not to be. We gave up and turned in for the night — sans liquids and comfy PJs.

In the morning we lumbered down to baggage claim, and there was our bag, sitting all alone in a vast empty line of silent luggage carousels. We grabbed the bag and rushed upstairs to check it in before joining the security line before our flight to Chicago, which was delayed.

The flight from Chicago to Manchester was also delayed, so we missed the prime 10 a.m. train to Edinburgh, but managed to score tickets for the noon train. There was a bit of confusion before boarding the train, as our tickets did not match the train cars or seats. We stopped a uniformed man to ask which car we should board and were informed these tickets were for the metro train across town, not this train right in front of us, ready to leave the station. Being the calm, rational, people that we are, we tossed our luggage on the theoretically wrong train and jumped aboard. Long story short, the uniformed individual happened to be new on the job and gave us directions that would have most certainly ruined Christmas. The other passengers were very helpful in explaining the ticket and seating process.

We arrived in Edinburgh, the hilly capital of Scotland. Cobblestone streets and Harry Potter-esque architecture make up the section known as Old Town, lined with baked potato delis and shops offering highland wool and Celtic jewelry.

On the return trip, I ditched all the liquids and opted to carry on my bag instead of checking it. That was a “stable genius” move on my part because everything that could possibly go wrong in the history of air travel went wrong. Perhaps that sentiment is overblown. We did not die, there was no water landing, and the air sickness bag was not required. However, we were rerouted for an unplanned refuel stop, resulting in a missed connection and an unexpected overnight stay in Chicago. However, this time I had my comfy pajamas in hand, mitigating the inconvenience.

My advice for sane holiday travel? Forget the checked bag. Just take a backpack with a toothbrush, clean underpants and comfy pajamas. Be prepared to enjoy the “scenic” extra-long way home.


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