They say – The only real failures are the ones from which we learn nothing. They also said – You gotta fail at something to have a good laugh later. Actually no one said that. But you know it’s true. And we took it seriously on all our travels. In fact, we’ve jumped on the travel-mishap bandwagon way too many times than we care to remember.
I put up a poll on my Insta story recently asking you guys whether you would like to read about some of these mishaps. I received a unanimously positive response. And here we are.
When you are on vacation, every second becomes a story. Some stories are endearing, some are soul-soothing, and some we want to forget. But a really good, funny travel story is a result of something that has gone terribly wrong.
Let me take you on a trip down memory lane of some of these terrible incidents that we didn’t think we could get out of. You’re gonna enjoy it. Guaranteed.
Koh Samui Airport Mishap
Tathagata fell in love with Thailand on our first trip. So every time we travel plan, Thailand is where we end up. Our first trip to the Land of Smiles was a package tour with an agency. The second time, we decided to do the entire thing ourselves.
When you plan an international trip, there are a lot of details that you can accidentally miss if you are not careful and thorough. We didn’t miss any of those. The trip was a success. On our ride back to the airport, we were still in disbelief that we actually pulled it off. Down to the T!
Or so we thought.
Since we were on a tight budget, we took the long route to the island and back home with a lot of connects in between. Each of those went smoothly until the final flight from Bangkok to Kolkata.
We had a lot of time in our hands. We try to keep a buffer because we are anxious people. So, we walked into the airport smiling about the vacation but equally sad that it ended – gliding past the door, doing our happy walk past the counters, checking in, looking around, with all the time in the world. We spotted the Immigration section and we walked into a queue. The queue was long and was moving slowly. But we were too lost in our Samui memories to complain.
And then suddenly, something felt odd. We looked around and noticed that none of the passengers had check-in luggage with them. Except us. Now both of us are all for travelling light but the immigration area that day looked like a competition in travelling light! “Can you travel any lighter? Can you?”
Anyway, we shook that thought off our minds and moved back to our Samui memories. The warm sand on our feet, the waves lapping on the shore, the soft shimmering moonlight.
We were too immersed to notice that it was our turn. It all went smoothly and we were done in a few seconds. We stepped on the other side of the immigration booths with our luggage in tow. And that’s when it hit us– we had forgotten to check our bags in!
How did we forget that! I mean how? We were travelling with Air Asia and our cabin luggage had a 7-kilo limit per person which meant we might now have to dump 90% of our check-in luggage according to the rules. When you are on international ground, you automatically assume the worst. I started to panic.
We ran to the usher there and asked if there was a way to go back. She refused. We had cleared immigration which means we had left the country – on paper. The only way to go now was forward.
Up ahead was a security check. We went up to the attendants and told them our story. My face looked like I would burst into tears any moment. They were patient and tried to pacify us. One of the guards checked our boarding passes and called up the Air Asia main desk to confirm our names and flight number with them. The main desk confirmed that the Goswami-s had forgotten to check in their luggage. Imagine the shame!
We were told that there was a chance that our check-in luggage would be allowed in the cabin. For that to happen, our check-in needed to be cleared for the cabin.
So our bags were put through the security scanner which beeped out a couple of things that couldn’t be allowed beyond that line. We had to dump two deodorants and a full tub of moisturizer to get past security. My favourite deodorant – gone!
We were then asked to speak with the Air Asia personnel at the boarding area for further information.
The next thing we know, we were rushing past passengers, jumping over kids, missing steps on the escalator, stressing out sweat bullets to locate our boarding area. We ran up to the two ladies sitting there and out came my almost-teary face again as we recounted what happened. Our words were jumbled up and sounded like plain gibberish to me. I don’t know what they understood out of that.
They simply smiled, checked our boarding passes and said in a calm voice, “No problem. Come to this desk with your check-in luggage when the staff for your flight arrives here and one of them will load it on the plane. But please be careful next time.”
I was taken aback! That easy? We found ourselves apologizing profusely out of relief. Looking at our reaction, the attendants started apologizing back because they assumed that they had been rude to us somehow! How polite can people be!
We took a seat and waited. We were 2 hours early. Time couldn’t move any slower. It was 2 am in the morning and we were wide awake. I was feeling antsy. I couldn’t believe it was this easy. There had to be something we were missing. I just couldn’t take their word for it. So we waited. And waited. In the meantime, we called up both sets of parents back home with a straight face (or voice), updating them about our status, disclosing nothing of the mishap. They are even more anxious than us. Where do you think we get it from? So, we didn’t want to whip up unnecessary tension back home in the middle of the night.
2 hours later the air hostesses started arriving. We jumped up from our seats and took our luggage to the desk. Still in disbelief. Anxious. We went up to them and as soon as we opened our mouths to speak, they smiled and said that they would take care of it. They already had the information and had printed and brought the tags just for us!
It sometimes blows my mind how fast information travels in an airport. Even faster when you’ve been as careless as we were!
And then, in what seemed like a magic trick, the air hostess swiftly attached the tags to our bags, put one top of the other and wheeled them out the door to the loading area. Looking at our luggage being rolled out into the night, I finally swallowed the chill pill. I think I was thanking all the stars in the galaxy individually.
The moment I started to relax, three things became clear to me – I was hungry, I was sleepy, and we were lucky. To celebrate, Tathagata steered me into the closest ramen shop and ordered two large buckets of piping hot noodles. One slurp and bite into the food, we began to smile. Before we realized it, we had started laughing. We still couldn’t believe all that had just happened and that we actually got away with it!
This has now become a fun incident which we share at family gatherings. Looking back now, I remember waiting at the airport and telling Tathagata – I want to get to the point where I can laugh about this. Thankfully, we’ve come out the other side now.
Okay now that I’ve finished typing this out, I realize that I would need to turn this into a series. Otherwise, it’s going to look like a research article if I cram all incidents into this one. So, I’ll see you in the next part.
While you wait, you can read the Koh Samui travel series. You don’t wanna miss it. Man, the fun we had!