We’ve been hearing a lot of lost luggage stories these days, and in our family, my father-in-law was a victim. He and my mother-in-law went on a repositioning cruise from Europe to Florida. As the song goes, “All their bags were packed and ready to go,” and off they flew from YVR to London to jump on a ship for a 2-week cruise, stopping in a number of European ports before tying up at their final destination across the Atlantic in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.
All went well until they landed in London and were waiting at the carousel for their luggage. My mother-in-law’s bag was there, but not my father-in-law’s. They waited and waited, till they could wait no more. Off to the ship they went, thinking that the suitcase would follow. But no such luck.
The ship set sail, with my father-in-law in the clothes that got him there. He made do with purchases aboard the ship, like a toothbrush and some t-shirts and shorts. At various ports of call, he bought a few more clothes, but was missing one of the big items he had packed, his tuxedo for dinner at the captain’s table! Thankfully the ship’s crew loaned him a tuxedo for the fancy dinner. He attended the dinner wearing the borrowed tuxedo and his own brown shoes! Fashion faux pas you say? Well, yes, but the other guests on board were very understanding. “Oh,” they said, as they looked down at the brown shoes, “you must be the lost luggage guy?” Yup, that was him!
Two weeks later the ship tied up in Florida, and still no luggage. They flew home and after 2 more weeks had passed, he received a phone call that his suitcase had been found and would be delivered to his house! The case made a lovely trip around Europe, across the ocean, and back home, without ever being opened. It was a great cruise, they had a great time, and luckily he’s the type of guy who can roll with the punches, and now thanks to all the emergency purchases, he has a very eclectic wardrobe!
The wonderful world of travel can present any number of adventures, challenges, and frustrating situations. A friend of mine told me the story of an issue with “special” luggage that didn’t get the kind of treatment the owner was hoping for.
The owner of this special luggage was traveling in the first class section on a major airline and he wasn’t traveling alone. He had his guitar with him. As he came on board he was told by the flight attendant that the guitar had to be stored in the belly of the plane like all the other pieces of luggage. This didn’t sit well with the passenger, he wanted his guitar to travel with him in the seated area.
It almost became a “Karen” situation, where demands are made to speak to the supervisor, but the passenger was talking to the supervisor, the flight attendant was the head purser on the aircraft. The attendant stood her ground, the guitar couldn’t be stored in the passenger area. Rules are rules! The argument quickly died down, because the passenger stormed off the plane, with his guitar case, and was heard saying “I’ll never fly on this airline again!”
The details of this confrontation found its way to the plane’s captain. The rest of the story went something like this.
“Captain, sorry for the delay in departure, but we had a disagreement with one of the passengers. Seems this passenger wanted to have his guitar and case stored in the cabin of the plane, which of course is against the rules.” That piqued the captain’s interest, so he asked who the passenger was. “I believe he was a Mr. Gordon Sumner.” “Gordon Sumner?” The captain asked. “THEE Gordon Sumner, the person more commonly known as Sting?” the frontman, songwriter, and bassist for the rock band The Police? That Gordon Sumner?” The captain was a big Police fan, and an even bigger Sting fan and knew immediately this was not going to end well. The head purser had just told Sting, probably a regular first-class passenger on the airline, that his bass guitar had to go in the belly of the plane.
It could have been any one of a few bass guitars that Sting owns, the cream of the crop are his 1955 and 1957 Precision basses, which he still uses to this day. They were both hand-built by Leo Fender, and are full of history, which is something Sting loves about his instruments. No wonder he didn’t want to send them into the cargo bin! Over the years, some exceptions to the in-cabin luggage rule have been made and could have been in this case. The Captain would have gladly stored the guitar in the cockpit, had he only known! But it was too late, Sting was out the door and heading back to the airport.
Well, the incident didn’t end there. A strong letter from Mr. Sumner was received by the President of the airline, and in an attempt to make amends, the airline offered to fly Mr. Sting to his next engagement on a private plane, with his bass strapped in beside him. Did he accept the offer? Don’t know? Did Gordon Sumner ever fly with that airline again? I don’t know that either.
One thing’s for sure, the Captain won’t soon forget the day Sting got Stung!
Till next week...
Sting with his vintage Precision Fender Bass
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White Rock, BC • Canada V4B 3Z2