Carry On Luggage
Even at the expense of my own personal well-being, I will not pay the airline’s extra baggage fee. I repeat, not!
I looked around to check that no one was watching and slung my bag over my shoulder and across my body. Inside were our passports, tickets, boarding passes and money. “Quick,” I whispered to my husband. “Give me my coat; I’ve got to put it on.”
“Why? It’s hot in here. What do you need a coat for?”
” It’s hot in here. What do you need a coat for?”
“Cause if I don’t wear it they’ll count it as another piece of luggage and make us pay for it. It says on the list one piece of hand luggage plus one small extra item e.g. coat, hat, handbag, laptop….I’ve already got more than one extra item so I’ve got to wear the coat. And in any case, the coat also has to cover the bag I’m trying to hide.”
I struggled to put my coat on, over the bag I’d just put on – the bag was only for my important documents- not a real bag by a normal woman’s standards. But this wasn’t just an ordinary coat– this was my full length heavy woollen only-for-cold-climates coat. We were leaving sunny Israel for dreary Manchester so a thick coat was a must. This heavy coat hadn’t seen the light of day for … I don’t know how long. A minute later I discovered just how long. I put my hand inside the pocket and drew out …”Oh my gosh LOOK,” I called to my husband. “POLOs”. My absolutely favourite mints that I only ever found in England. So how long had the mints been there? I unfolded the wrapper and searched for the sell-by date,,,2005. I spat out the mint I had just popped into my mouth.
“I can’t believe it. The last time I wore this coat was for this kid’s Bar Mitzvah 10 years ago and now he’s getting married.”
“Well I hope the food at the wedding is fresher.”
Gosh it really was hot. That’s the trouble with Ben Gurion airport being in Tel Aviv. It’s not puffy coat friendly.
We had already made it through the security check. Fortunately that went off without any terrible incident although I had to convince my husband that security guards had a difficult job and no sense of humour. When they asked you if I had packed my own suitcases they didn’t appreciate being told “Well I certainly did but let me know if my husband tells you that he packed his own, because if he does, arrest him immediately. I packed it for him.”
When my sister went through El Al security in New York once, the security guard asked her if she was religious. When she replied that she was he asked her what shul she belonged to. She told him and then he asked “What was last week’s parsha?” My sister blushed. “I don’t remember I got to shul late.” The security guard smiled “OK that’s a good Jewish answer” and he let her go.
As the sweat started to drip on my face, the guy at the check-in desk asked for our passports. Oh gosh what do I give him, our British or our Israeli passports? Or both? I was getting hotter and sweatier trying to decide. In the end I just poured out all four of them onto the counter and hoped for the best. Now he wanted tickets. I said a silent prayer that these bits of crumpled up paper in my hidden bag would pass as tickets. I’d just printed them up from the computer. I’d felt like a forger. The last time I’d travelled we had real tickets – you know a little booklet with lots of pages, half of which always seemed superfluous. But it felt like a real ticket and the clerk always tore off a few pages and I knew I had to take care not to lose the ones that were left or we’d be stuck abroad forever. Now I can print out as many copies as I like and keep them in every bag and case we have.
“OK put your suitcases on the scale please.” This part I wasn’t really worried about as I knew they didn’t weigh the maximum that’s allowed – there’s no point in traveling to your destination with too much luggage – I mean where would I put all the shopping I intended to do.
“Would you like to send that one in the hold as well Madam?” He pointed to my small suitcase on wheels that was my ‘official’ hand luggage.
”NO.” I grabbed it like he was about to steal it. ”It’s my hand luggage”
“That’s OK, I was only offering as you seem to have your hands full with lots of other stuff. I thought maybe you’d be glad to get rid of another one.”
Was he looking at my bulging shopping bag that I called my little handbag? Or was he looking at the bag that I was trying to hide under my coat? Or maybe he took pity on me realizing that I was just dying to take my coat off before I passed out from the heat.
I didn’t stop to find out. I pushed my husband ahead and ran off with my bag on wheels, shopping bag, and hidden bag under my heavy coat. I may have nearly fainted for heat exhaustion, but at least I saved the extra baggage fee. Take that, airline.