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Caution: Think Twice About Checking Your Backpack

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Wily, Aug 31, 2017.

  1. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    I'm just back from traveling in Central America and Mexico. On the way down, I had my backpack in the cabin with me as we were leaving immediately from our arrival city. However, because of some liquid purchases (wonderful Guatemalan honey) that could not be brought into the cabin, I checked my pack for my return trip. Well, as I'm well aware of the possibility of this happening, my pack didn't arrive on my flight with me. By the time it was all said and done last night, it took about two hours to fill out the delayed bag form and leave the airport without a bag. My pack also did not arrive this morning on the next flight! Maybe tonight? At best, by the time it will get delivered to me, it will be on the third day or later after arriving home.

    Because one can travel light when walking the Camino, choose a backpack size that allows you to bring it into the cabin with you. My 36L Osprey has never been questioned as too large for carry-on. Someone commented recently on the Forum that they brought their 47L pack into the cabin and that the overhead bin accommodated it nicely. What you don't want to happen is to arrive in France or Spain and not see you pack on the luggage conveyor belt. If you plan on immediately leaving Madrid or Paris, not having your gear is a real problem. Starting your Camino without your pack or waiting days for it to catch up with you are problems you don't want to deal with. So, my best advice: don't check your backpack! Buen Camino!
     
  2. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Apart from my last “Big” Camino where I walked out of my front door of my home in Cumbria and started walking, and then crossed by Ferry from the UK to Spain, the rest of the Camino’s that I have walked, I have flown out to various airports to my starting points of Caminos including Biarritz, Madrid, Bilbao, Vitoria, Porto, Santiago de Compostela and Seville, I always checked in my luggage, and “Touch Wood”, It always arrived at the airport with me.



    Now – As Wily has said, for sure, it could happen and you could have your hold luggage mislaid, but I wonder what the statistical probability of this happening is ??



    The problems of trying to take your entire luggage as cabin baggage is it will probably include restricted items that you will need on Camino (Swill Army Knife and Trekking poles, scissors in your first aid kit, nail clippers etc etc) - Although some airlines now appear to allow trekking poles as cabin luggage, there have been reports of people having them taken off them by airport security.



    Then airlines have differing cabin baggage allowances for both weight and size and, especially if you are transiting through an airport like Charles de Gaul, you might well find that what was acceptable on your first flight, isn’t acceptable on your second one.



    I am flying with Thomas Cook Airlines in 2 ½ weeks and their cabin baggage weigh limit is a measly 8kg !!



    Finally, and I know this might not be of concern to everyone – But I like to take home a few bottles of good local Spanish wine and if I only have cabin baggage, this is out of the question.



    So – I suppose what I am saying is weigh up the Pro’s and Con’s before you decide whether to restrict yourself to cabin baggage, or to take hold luggage.



    I would also like to hear what other people do ??
    Thanks and Best Regards

    Rob
     
  3. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    On travelling TO locations to carry out activities such as hiking the Camino, conferences, etc we always take our bags as carry ons. We travelled to Porto and Barcelona on two occasions with our Osprey 36L sirrus and stratus packs in the cabin with us. ospyer. On the way back, if our bags become delayed, well we are home and the need for everything in the bags (including the honey and wine mentioned above) is not needed for a day or two. So our policy is carry on on the outward journey to make sure we can start our activities immediately, and we do not fret on the return trip.
     
  4. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Calowie - Exactly! Carry it on on the outward journey and don't fret about it on the way home. If you can't start your activities immediately, then you have to come up with a Plan B. As many of us don't remain for long in our arrival city, if your bags are delayed, there's then a new problem to deal with that could have been avoided.

    When we went to Portugal last spring, I checked a separate small bag with our poles and knives. I figured that if they didn't arrive, no big deal. I'd buy new poles and knives upon arrival. But, I'd hate to be without my entire kit. Statistically probable or not, you're best off keeping your pack with you on the outward journey. Like you, no problem bringing my 36L pack in the cabin and I have peace of mind that I know where it is.
     
  5. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    I went from Fresno to Madrid and I carried my pack as carry on and checked my poles and Letherman on my most recent trip. The poles were delayed and I finally got them in Fresno.

    On return from Madrid, I checked my pack and in Washington DC it was put on a different plane. My plane was delayed due to weather and when I got to Denver I missed the connecting flight. My pack on the other flight did not miss the connecting flight and I had to stay in Denver without anything that United didn't supply.
     
  6. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Now that Wily has clarified / altered his stance from his original posting, I am much more inclined to agree with the “Advice” as, on your outbound leg, to check in restricted items as well as other items that are easily replaced and to keep your valuable and more cherished / harder to replace things with you as cabin luggage makes perfect sense.

    Then on the return leg, just to check everything in so that you can take wine / souvenirs and don’t have to worry about restricted items, again makes perfect sense.



    I would still be interested to hear more experiences such as above as, in all the flights I have done, so far (Touch Wood) I have only had bags delayed on two occasions

    1) On a flight with Biman Bangladesh Airlines from LHR to Bangkok my bag went missing in transfer in Bangladesh – It took 3 days to get to Bangkok and when it arrived it stunk to high heaven – With hindsight I blamed myself as I had put my rucksack into a heavy-duty black plastic bag to protect the straps and I think it had got mixed up with the garbage during the transfer – So maybe not the best idea to disguise my expensive rucksack containing all my gear as garbage ;-)

    2) On a transfer flight back to Newcastle upon Tyne from London Stansted – There was heightened security and I was told that in all probability I would miss the flight due to the massive queues – I didn’t miss the flight but my hold luggage did, but it was delivered to my door back in Cumbria the next day by a currier

    I would estimate that I have taken several hundred flights so far, so two delayed bags isn’t too bad – But my question is, is this about average or have I been lucky ??
    And, is delayed baggage more prevalent on Flights to / from the USA more common than Europe (I have only flown on two return flights to the US and didn’t encounter any problems myself)



    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  7. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Wily, so sorry to hear about the backpack on return. That happened to me last year in Paris after 2 delayed flights (Santiago-BCN-Orly), and this year when I checked only my poles, they arrived in Madrid destroyed and an entire section was even missing altogether. We're leaving in a few days and will be taking everything with us in the cabin this time, and if they won't let us take the poles, there's a North Face store across from Metro Trinidade in Porto. I know the route isn't that hilly, but if I remember, people have said there are a number of angry farm dogs out.

    Our first flights, at least, say that "walking devices" are acceptable, so we'll give that a try (I only buy bargain basement poles at this point). Kim F. just had to check her bag instead of carrying it on in Chicago because of her poles. She flew into Bordeaux a few days ago - maybe she'll post how things went.
     
  8. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey C4S - First, so glad to hear you're heading back over. I think you'll enjoy the CP? Central Route? We loved it! If you get to, spend a night at Casa de Fernanda between Barcelos and Ponte de Lima. With that said, let me say that we did not meet up with a single angry dog on our Camino (doesn't mean they're not out there). What we did observe was a large number of property watch dogs in Portugal. However, it was still a bit off season and people did not seem to be living on the property. But, every dog was either chained or behind a secure fence or gate. I don't think you need to worry about them.

    Ah, the tale of the lost backpack. Two full days and three more incoming flights from Mexico City and no backpack. Being home, it's no issue other than it being missing. But, as I said in my original post, you don't want to take a chance of this happening heading to start your Camino. Our flight to Porto was a nightmare in that we got there 12 hours late and ended up in Germany before landing in Portugal. However, our packs were in the cabin so no real worries. Amazingly, our small checked pole bag made it in one piece despite the flight changes! But, I remember meeting a woman on the CF who after walking for a couple days was still waiting for her delayed pack to arrive. Luckily, she was walking with friends who could help her out. Forewarned is forearmed! I trust all will go well for you on your travels over to Europe. You're most wise to take your gear into the cabin with you. Although the CP is pretty flat, I enjoyed my poles for pace setting. You won't have any trouble in Porto finding what you need. Safe travels and Bom Caminho!
     
  9. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Thanks so much, Wily! I remember about your flight to Porto because I remember thinking I could never have been so positive about the delays.....something about Belgian pastries was in there, if I remember!

    Sadly, my sister didn't want to be gone for as long as I would have liked, so we'll miss Fernanda's this time (we are going to train Porto to Barcelos and have a look around, though, before training on to Valenca). I'm looking forward to the food and the people in Portugal and whatever else we can see. It will be great to have a walking partner this time.

    We have a jet lag afternoon and a full day the next day to see a few things in Porto in case anyone would want to share what to add to the list of must-sees? Plan: Stop at Sao Bento to see the tilework and get onward train tickets. Stop at the Cathedral/Se to see it and pick up an extra credencial, eat at Cafe Majestic, visit Livraria Lello, and the next day walk the river and the coast up to Matosinhos past The Anemone (daytime though) and take the metro back. We couldn't get in at Poet's Inn, which if I remember you and your wife liked, nor could we get in at Gallery Hostel, but we're staying at Bluesock Hostel down by the river and the historic district. Will report back.
     
  10. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Unklehammy - Well, traveling is always an adventure! Or, as I like to think, a tough day on the road is better than a good day in the office. Sounds like you came out of it just fine. It's 90% attitude as you know. At least it didn't happen to you on the way to Spain! You were wise to take your back with you inside the cabin on your way there. Whether your poles make it or not, they're pretty easy to replace with all the outfitters in SJPP. Buen Camino!
     
  11. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    When my poles got home, one was broken in two places. The other one was fine. I had used bungee cords to keep them together in an old tent pole bag. Now I have three functional poles!
     
  12. hindsfeet

    hindsfeet Donating Member Donating Member

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    C4S...I hope that you and your sister have an amazing time!! Looking forward to hearing from you! Safe Camino!
     
  13. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Awww, that's so nice, hindsfeet - thank you! I'll definitely post.
     
  14. mvanert

    mvanert Member

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    Coming from N. America I would never, ever not have my pack with me. That means I all the things you cannot bring on board I have to buy in Europe, it means not bringing tubes of anything that have more than 2 oz. of fluid but, for me, it gives me peace of mind knowing all I need is with me. I even wait to buy poles until I am in St Jean or wherever I start and then leave them at my last albergue with the knowledge someone will need them and welcome them.
     
  15. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Mvanert - Well said! The last thing one needs to do is get to Europe and have to reconstruct from scratch their kit which invariable will not be as adequate as the one most pilgrims put a lot of time into creating while still at home. Peace of mind, so important!
     
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  16. anniem

    anniem Active Member

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    About 10 years ago I flew British Airways from Gatwick to Corsica for a 10 day hiking trip in the mountains. My checked luggage which held all my gear did not arrive. I am still waiting!! It was a major inconvenience and expense but I managed mainly because it was summer and the limited shopping in Corte provided the basics. Now when I check in luggage I have the basics in carry on. Buen Camino
     
  17. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    BACKPACK UPDATE: As the French would say, Il est arrivé! After three days of some extra globetrotting, my pack finally arrived in Montreal exhausted! Getting it to me is another story. It was easier to drive the 100 km to the airport to pick it up than try to coordinate some rendez-vous spot. In any case, five days now after arriving home, my pack snd I have been reunited. Had this been Paris on my way to SJPP, I'm not sure what my Plan B would have been. Would probably have had to repurchase everything so as to have been able to start my Camino. All's well that ends well! IMHO pilgrims, keep your backpack in your possession as you head to your Camino. Buen Camino!
     
  18. calowie

    calowie Active Member

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    RJS: A few years ago we travelled to Greece, and my checked bag did not arrive. No problem... it would arive on the next flight. Four days later we were preparing to take the metro system to the ferry dock whan I got a call at the hotel that the bag was on its way. I had a change of clothes and a swim suit in my carry on, but none of my better "conference" clothes. The bag arrived, we caught the ferry, arrived in Chania, Crete, took out a change of clothes for my backpack, checked the carry on in a bus depot locker, and walked along the south coast from village to village for 6 days, after which we caught a bus back to Chania where I finally spent some quality time with my checked bag. It can happen! I have seen people take posters to conferences and have them not arrive in time. Hope for the best but have contingencies in place!
     
  19. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    Hi calowie and anniem

    Thanks for posting and sorry to hear about your own experiences with delayed / lost rucksacks

    As I mentioned in my own initial post, I do realise that on occasion hold luggage checked into aircraft does get delayed and sometimes goes missing completely (I posted my own experiences of how this has happened to me twice myself) – And reading this thread, the problem, particularly for flights from / going to the USA, the problem is a lot worse than I was aware of.



    However, I still think that people could have problems checking in some rucksacks as cabin luggage on certain airlines as, particularly, the budget carriers like Ryan Air (That a lot of pilgrims us to get to their chosen staring point) are very strict and the “Cabin Bag” Must fit completely inside the measuring frame, otherwise it will be taken off you and checked in as hold luggage, And, there will be an extra charge (compared with booking checked in luggage inn advance)

    As an example Ryan Air’s cabin Baggage allowance is

    “Weighing up to 10kg with maximum dimensions of 55cm x 40cm x 20cm, plus 1 small bag up to 35 x 20 x 20 cms.”


    So (As previously posted) I do agree that you should “keep your valuable and more cherished / harder to replace things with you as cabin luggage”

    But, that it might not be possible to keep your rucksack with you as cabin baggage – So as long as everyone is aware of the airline rules regarding the size of cabin baggage and that, although I don’t know how strictly these rules are enforced in every country (Particularly the USA), I do know that airlines like Ryan Air and easyJet are very strict.



    So – I guess what I am saying is if you want to take your rucksack as cabin baggage, then do make sure that it’s small enough :)



    Good Luck and Buen Camino to one and all

    Rob
     
  20. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Another forum member just ran across a baggage-related problem I'd not heard of before. Her checked bag didn't show up (U.S. - France), and she wasn't allowed out of security without it! The people meeting her weren't able to find out what happened to her. Somehow after filling out the required forms they let her go, but the bag didn't turn up until a couple of days later. She was glad to get it when it arrived, but all stories combined, it seems to indicate that travel with checked baggage is indeed problematic, at least to/from the U.S.
     
  21. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey C4S - A similar thing happened last week to me in Montreal. After not getting my bag and finally finding an agent for assistance, in addition to filling out my "delayed bag" form with the airline, I also had to fill out a special customs form and get it approved before being allowed to exit into the arrivals section of the terminal. Without the stamped form, since I did not have my bag, I would not have been allowed to leave either. When a checked bag from an international flight doesn't show up it adds a whole new dimention to the adventure of flying. Buen Camino!
     
  22. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    That’s Awful Crepes4Suzette – I wonder what do people can do when they really have to take checked in luggage when flying out of The USA ??



    As security continues to be heightened because of world events, I really can’t see the situation getting any easier with regard to either what items are allowed as cabin baggage, or having additional security checks when hold baggage goes missing !!


    Oh Hum

    Rob
     
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  23. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    I wish I knew, Rob! I've heard that sending a box ahead can take an unpredictable amount of time - one month sometimes, and that getting it through Customs can be an expense. Everyone I know who flies for business is having trouble, finding it easier to just drive long distances sometimes both time-wise and for the peace of mind of being under one's own agency.

    This time I've factored in time on both ends for delays and problems (nice to be retired....). We're trying Azores Airlines for the first time and they told us up front about their strike. Seems they announce the start and end dates of their strikes well in advance, though, which is terribly nice of them:rolleyes:. Then RyanAir Santiago to Stansted and a few days in London and then will try out Norwegian for the trip across the pond. I take the train to and from the east coast, so at least that part is mostly predictable.

    There is good new, though! Very reasonable (almost cheap) one-way tickets seem to be becoming easier to find on Kayak and others, making an open-ended Camino easier for those of us not lucky enough to be able to access the Camino as affordably and easily as our European friends!
     
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  24. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    In May when my checked poles did not arrive in Biaretz I had no problems leaving the airport with my pack. That might have been because the poles were checked trough from Fresno and I then did a transfer in Madrid. It would have been nicer to have the poles but at least I got out of the French airport with no additional problems.
     
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  25. RJS

    RJS Well-Known Member

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    This Really Does sound Awful Crepes4Suzette and is Far Far Worse than ever I could have imagined – I am a regular flier and my main love is Nepal and since I am also now retired, I am able to go there twice a year most years – But I really couldn’t envisage going there with only hand luggage and couldn’t imagine that many other trekkers would be able to do so either – Just too much gear to take (And with having Porters or Porter/Guides carrying the weight isn’t a problem)

    And my November flight is also very reasonably priced, in fact I would have to go back to the 90’s to get one for a cheaper price than I found this time - £427 return, Manchester – Istanbul – Kathmandu with Turkish :)



    BTW - Is this all a fairly recent phenomenon, or is it something that has just gradually got worse - It’s a long time since I have flown over the pond myself ??


    Best Regards

    Rob
     
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  26. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey Rob - Having flowen over The Pond twice in the last year, like many others in this Forum, I can tell you that there are generally no issues North Americans face traveling to Europe. In fact, from an immigration point of view, my passport was hardly looked at when entering either France or Belgium last year. Worldwide, there are issues that have made travel, in general, more difficult or at least less convenient, but it is not destination specific. The same types of issues exist when I fly to Mexico or Central America. Europe still remains one of the easiest destinations for Americans or Canadians to travel to. And, I hope that never changes!

    As a number of folks have pointed out, there are difficulties that one can encounter when traveling if their luggage doesn't arrive with them. And, that was the only issue that I wanted to raise with my original post. When traveling internationally, at least on the major carriers (and I certainly understand that discount carriers like Ryan Air may be different), one can minimize the potential for certain problems by keeping their gear with them. On the eleven international flights on five different airlines I taken this past year, no one even batted an eyelash at a 36L pack in the cabin. The inbound flight is certainly a different issue than the outbound flight. Not having my bag return with me coming home was an annoyance and an inconvenience, but it didn't interfere with my trip plans. I'd hate to see someone's Camino negatively impacted because their pack didn't arrive when they did. Buen Camino!
     
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  27. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Nice! That sounds like a really good price for those fights, Rob! I remember that you like going to Nepal and I keep running into Camino people who have hiked there..... I'm a bit jealous.

    Oh I remember those 90's prices! Once flew round-trip to/from Paris for $250 USD. If those days return, we all may be away more than home.

    I'm not sure what to say about how bad it actually is with flights here. I haven't had much trouble on flights within the U.S., but I don't fly in-country more than twice a year unless going to a destination farther than the midwest (I live in Pennsylvania). I've also never seen the horrible behavior that sometimes is videotaped on flights here (yet, anyway). I know people who drive to their corporate offices 11 hours away and frequently make it there in less time than the people flying from the same starting area. It must be worse than in Great Britain though, because usually the worst I hear from Brits is that RyanAir charges for every little thing. What little trouble I've had related to airports and flights have been a small price to pay for the adventure of traveling over the years!
     
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  28. Crepes4Suzette

    Crepes4Suzette Well-Known Member

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    Geez, Wily. I guess I can imagine why it's important to match people with their bags on exit, but it sounds like yet another line to go through and a way for a whole bunch of people to have trouble when their bags don't make it. I do remember having an extra check after baggage claim in JFK in June, now that you mention it. I had my bag, but was asked the reason for having been out of the country. I think half the time at checkpoints they're just trying to engage you to assess whether you're a reasonably stable person.
     
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  29. Wily

    Wily Camino Francés 2016; Camino Portugués 2017

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    Hey C4S - Yes indeed, just another line to stand in. You and I both understand that we're not the bad guys, but in their attempt to try to catch those who are, it means greater screening and scrutiny for the rest of us (plus more lines). Argh!

    I know it varies from airport to airport, but part of the problem I encountered was that there wasn't an airline representative at the luggage carrousel to help folks missing bags. Finding out what to do was our, for three of us on this particular flight, biggest problem. Clueless would be a pretty good description of how we felt. Had we had connecting flights, that would have been another problem. Sorting this out took over 1 1/2 hours due to the lack of assistance by the airline.

    Like I said above, my problem was on my inbound flight so it was manageable. It's all part of the flying experience and will happen sooner or later to everyone who flies regularly. Buen Camino!
     
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  30. UnkleHammy

    UnkleHammy Well-Known Member

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    When my bag missed me in Denver it was quite exasperating to be unable to find an air line employee to help. After about an hour, or so, I finally found an uncooperative person to help.
     
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