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What was she thinking?: the story of my travel pillow

April 05, 2008 @ 08:58 By: gordon Category: General, Travelling

Something happened on the second flight on my trip home from San Antonio via Newark a couple of weeks ago and I’ve been fuming about it ever since. I’ve decided to stop fuming and write what’s turned into a long entry about it.

Every flight in or out of the northeastern US was delayed that day because of the winds. My flight from San Antonio to Newark was almost 2.5 hours late departing because of these delays, so my 3-hour layover in Newark turned into a 6-minute layover. In the chaos to get off the plane and to my connecting flight, which was slightly delayed at this point, I forgot something under my seat. I ran through the airport and made it to my connecting flight to find that it was further delayed. Phew!

I caught my breath while I waited for them to call the flight, which they did a few minutes later.

Upon boarding my connecting flight in Newark and making my way to my seat, I stowed my coat in the overhead bin, put my backpack under the seat and a plastic bag with my hat, scarf, gloves, travel pillow, books and some little boxes of cookies on the seat. It was at this point I realized that I’d forgotten something on the plane I arrived on so I made my way to the front of the plane and talked to the crew and gate staff and explained my problem. After some discussions, during which the flight attendant must have alerted the pilot to the fact that I needed to go back to the other plane and see if I could find my stuff because the pilot stepped out of the cockpit and told the gate staff the plane wasn’t leaving until I got back from trying to find my stuff. (How cool is that??)

After thanking him profusely, I headed up the jetway and out into the concourse.

I found a guy in one of those golf carts that scoot around the airport and asked him to take me to the gate, wait for me and then bring me back. He said he could take me there, but couldn’t wait because he had to go pick up a guy with a wheelchair. “Whatever,” I thought, “I’ll deal with that later”. So, off we went.

En route to the gate I again asked him to wait for me and then take me back to the waiting plane. He mentioned the guy with the wheelchair again. I mentioned $20. Without hesitation he said “Done”. Sweet. (Sorry guy with the wheelchair.)

After weaving through the hoards of people, many of whom seemed intent on walking in front of the large golf carts zipping through the airport, we arrived at the gate. Unfortunately, the cleaners didn’t find my stuff and they’d just pushed the plane back, so all I could do was leave my contact information with the gate supervisor and headed back to the waiting plane. (They turned the plane around in about 20 minutes, so I suspect they only did a cursory sweep through the plane.)

After more weaving our way through the wandering masses once again, we arrived at the gate and I gave my chauffeur a $20 bill, as promised and made my way down the jetway and boarded the plane. The flight attendant asked if I’d found my stuff and I said “nope and now I have a plane full of people who are angry with me *sigh*”. She told me that was their problem, not mine, because the pilot was the one who made the call to delay the flight, not me.

Making my way back to my seat, I discovered my plastic bag was no longer on my seat. After checking under my seat, I asked the people sitting nearby “where’s my bag?” Eventually, a guy a couple of rows back said “is this it?” and handed it over. I muttered thanks and asked him how he’d ended up with it, but he just shrugged. Whatever. (I just wanted to get home at this point.)

I sat down, buckled up and we pushed back from the gate a couple of minutes later. (In fact, we didn’t take off for most of an hour because we were number 25 or 30 in line for takeoff and spent a lot of time taxiing around the airport. I received a call from the supervisor who said the cleaners’ supervisor checked and none of the cleaners had found my stuff so it was probably on its way to Cleveland.)

At some point I went to retrieve my travel pillow from my shopping bag, only to discover it missing. Looking around, I saw a lady two rows back with her eyes closed, a content look on her face and my pillow around her neck. WTF????!?!?

The flight attendant was passing down the aisle so I stopped her and said “that lady has my pillow”. She said she’d look after it and continued down the aisle. After the flight, she told me that she walked up to the lady, got her attention, poked the pillow and said “Is this yours?”, and waited for an answer. After several seconds, the lady said “uh… no”, at which point the flight attendant told her it belonged to me and retrieved it and gave it to me on her way back to the front of the plane.

I heard someone in the row behind the lady say “so you got caught” or something to that effect and then some giggling.

Fortunately, the rest of the flight was uneventful and I was actually able to nap a bit. Upon arrival at the gate, we deplaned and I stopped to talk to the flight crew and thank the pilot again for holding the flight. The flight attendant recounted the pillow incident and both he and the co-pilot were dumbfounded.

So, the question I have to ask is: WHAT WAS SHE THINKING?

She knew the bag on my seat wasn’t hers, yet she picked it up, rummaged through it and took the pillow out. Where did she learn that a bag sitting on someone else’s seat on a plane is free for the taking if the owner is not actually sitting in the seat at that moment? Did she really think she’d get away with it? She had to know it was mine because the guy who gave me my bag back was in the seat next to her.

Seriously… just because something isn’t actually in someone’s hands doesn’t mean it’s free for the picking. Geez. Oh well, what goes around comes around.

I have to take a moment to thank the pilot, Angelo, the co-pilot (who’s name I didn’t catch) and Monica, rescuer of my pillow. You guys made an otherwise miserable situation as pleasant as it could be. Thank you! (Any brass from Continental AirlinesExpressJet partner reading this: please give these guys a gold star on their next employee review. They went above and beyond to help out a passenger in need.)

And if you’re wondering about my lost stuff: It hasn’t shown up yet. I’ve called the baggage counters at both Newark and Cleveland along with the airport police at both airports on a couple of different occasions and filed a lost items report with the airline. Given the amount of time that’s passed I’ve stopped holding my breath for its return. Oh well. *sigh*

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