Now that it is the dead of summer, I am finally finishing my story about my crazy journey from England to Portugal to Spain for Christmas. Since this story, I have been to Ireland, Spain (twice), Sweden, and Greece. Always on the go….
The plus side: I had gotten a seat on my final flight to Porto. The bad side: It was several hours delayed, now to arrive at 2am (3am Spanish time). Once I even arrived to Porto, it was still an hour and twenty minute drive to my in-laws’ house. My husband had been waiting up at home until we took off from Lisbon. Usually I don’t travel with checked bags on intra-European flights, but this time I had to because I was bringing gifts and couldn’t fit them all in my carry-on.
Less than an hour after leaving behind the chaos at Lisbon airport, we were arriving to Porto. We disembarked and waited in baggage claim for our suitcases to arrive. My husband was in the arrival gate waiting for me to collect my suitcase. I sent him a text saying that I should be out soon.
I was fully expecting my bag to be missing. With the short connection time between my two flights, I knew it would have taken a miracle for my bag to have been put on the plane. The lucky bags that did arrive took an eternity to get delivered. Turns out not so many baggage handlers are working December 23rd at 2am in Porto. Once it was obvious my bag was not among them, I followed the other passengers to the Tap Portugal customer service office. Due to all the delays in Lisbon, many passengers were left without luggage. There was nowhere to sit outside the office, so we all formed a line on the floor. Only once did a Tap Portugal representative come out of the office to explain what was happening. Unfortunately for me, she only did so in Portuguese. She was taking people in one by one into the customer service office and closing the door behind her. Each person spent at least half an hour in the office before emerging out. I was at a total loss as what could be taking so long behind that door. How long does it take to give them your forwarding address?
I was using the free wifi to message back and forth to my husband, who was dying of boredom outside. He told me I could file my missing bag on the company website. He was probably right, but I didn’t want to take any chances. I was worried if I didn’t have my bag return form guaranteed from Tap Portugal, I might never see it again. By now it was about 4/4:30 in the morning. While waiting in line, I had the chance to catch up on all the world news. I read the papers from the US, UK, and Spain. I stumbled across a video of a man in Russia who drove his car through an airport “for love”. I sent it to my husband and he said he was about at the point to do the same thing.
When it was finally my turn. I was shown a catalog with pictures of suitcases. I had to identify which one looked the most like mine and describe its appearance. I wrote out my in-laws’ address for them to send me the bag. They handed me an overnight kit with a t-shirt and toiletries and I was out of there. It only took me about 10 minutes with the representatives. What was everyone else doing?
I walked through the exit doors and gave my poor husband a big hug. What a night. I only had my purse and a few gifts I had bought in the Manchester Airport for my brother-in-law: Christmas boxers and a singing chicken hat that British people like to wear for holidays.
We drove the final leg of the journey from Porto to Galicia. I think I passed out along the way and woke up as we were approaching his family’s house. I looked at the watch. It was 7am Spanish time (6am in Portugal and England). I borrowed clothes from my sister-in-law for a few days until my bag arrived. We didn’t have much to give out on Christmas day itself, but thankfully we had the Christmas underwear and chicken hat to entertain my little nieces!