Once we at the lab were going to an important conference to demonstrate some multimodal interaction and thus had to bring quite a bit of Fragile and Expensive Equipment with us. We packed it as carefully as we could, wrapping stuff in layers of our underwear, bubble wrap, foam peanuts and other soft items we could find. Then off we went to Arlanda and as we checked in we explained we had Fragile Things with us, so could they please be extra careful with them?
“Oh, then you must take it to Special Baggage around the corner there. Here’s some FRAGILE tape for you to mark your boxes with.”
We criss-crossed the box with red-and-black FRAGILE markings and then went around the corner to Special Baggage. Nobody there. We looked around a bit and went:
“Ho-hoo! Anybody heere?”
Presently a lady came out, looking very bored and continuing to look bored while she had us put our box on a conveyor belt and supplied it with the necessary bar codes.
Then she started the belt. We looked curiously as the box slowly moved towards a rubber curtain at one end of the room and then started parting the curtain so we could see beyond it. NOOOOOO!!! I threw myself towards the curtain and the π/4 incline beyond it. Too late, we could just watch in dismay as the box tumbled end over end down the seemingly infinite belt. The baggage lady barely bothered to look up at the commotion, but wore an expression of dull incomprehension: what were we going on about?
It was with some trepidation that we unpacked our precious box at our destination, but our careful wrapping had paid off and everything was in fact unharmed.
Now, many years later, I was again at Arlanda (I know, I know, but at least I’ve had planted 80 trees in Africa as an attempt at expiation) and, as usual, belatedly realised that my army knife had somehow returned to my pocket from the big bag that I had already checked in. What to do? Better put the knife in the backpack I had intended to carry on board and check it in. I return to the baggage drop and explain the situation and note I have fragile stuff in the backpack (the work laptop, some stuff supposedly couldn’t wait until after the vacation).
“Oh, then you should take it to Special Baggage over there.”
I take the backpack over to Special Baggage, where the guy at the counter x-rays it and notes I have a knife in the bag. Indeed. All contents of the bag are clearly visible on the display.
Off we fly and when we have arrived, refreshed ourselves and all that, I pick up the laptop to have a look at the latest messages. Oh, foo! The screen is cracked. Somewhat incensed I navigate a number of answering machines until I get hold of a person at SAS Baggage Handling. No, no, computers are not allowed in checked-in baggage, it’s all my own fault if anything got broken, and clearly their check-in staff has no responsibility to inform anyone of anything. Aargh!
Trains it is for the future!