On a hot summer evening, Bruce and I packed our bags for a six week trip researching in England and driving around Europe. Bruce donned shorts and a t-shirt and put his jacket in his suitcase. We boarded the plane late at night and landed at London’s Heathrow airport early the next morning.
Of course everyone getting off the plane headed for the restroom, so by the time we got there, I had to wait in line. When we got to the baggage carousel, most of the passengers on our flight had already picked up their suitcases. We quickly spotted my bag and our extra bag filled with cans of tuna thanks to Bruce’s efforts to eat inexpensively. Bruce took both bags off the carousel. Then, we waited and waited for Bruce’s suitcase to surface. All the other passengers left with their bags. There was one last suitcase going round and round on the carousel. It wasn’t Bruce’s, but it looked just like his.
Only one thing could have happened. Whoever owned THAT suitcase had picked up Bruce’s by mistake! Bruce lifted it off the carousel and we read the tag. We recognized the name. We had met her on the plane, a teenager traveling with a high school theater group. She would NOT be happy when she arrived at her hotel, opened what she thought was her bag, and discovered men’s running shoes and shaving cream!
We took her suitcase to the baggage office and told them of our problem. They took her bag, and the address where we were staying, and promised to deliver Bruce’s bag when it surfaced.
We stepped outside the terminal. It was cold and foggy. Very cold. Bruce’s summer clothes were not enough to keep him warm. We quickly learned two lessons: Don’t pack your jacket in your suitcase, and be among the first to claim your luggage.
Have you had a research trip snag where you wished you’d done things differently?