The hardest crusts always fall to the toothless” – Cypriot proverb
Last year we went to Portugal with holiday company TUI and they inconvenienced us by making several changes to the flight schedules which resulted in the loss of a complete day of the trip. We said that we would never go on holiday with TUI again.
Six months later we broke that vow and booked a holiday to the Greek island of Skiathos in the TUI January sale. A noisy fun island which attracts young high spirited people in high Summer but we gambled that it would be less frantic in early May.
After breezing through the check in and the security processes we settled in to wait for the call to the departure desk. Once on board we waited in eager anticipation for the pilot to confirm take off. Suddenly there was a crackle of intercom and the introduction from the pilot and then some unwelcome news.
It was raining in Skiathos, the short runway, which is apparently notoriously difficult, was wet and the plane was too heavy to land safely. The TUI solution was to offload half of the suitcases from the hold and promise that they would follow on tomorrow. I had some medication in my bag ( a couple of epi-pens in case of an allergy emergency) and was allowed off the plane to retrieve them so grabbed a few items that I thought might be useful such as phone chargers and sun lotion and returned to my seat in the certain knowledge that mine was one of the one hundred. We hoped that Kim’s might still be on board.
Half way into the flight more news and an apology and a caveat to the earlier promise, this time the pilot said that they would do all they could to get our luggage to us as soon as possible and later still this was watered down again to the company hopes to get our bags to us some time next week.
This has happened to us before when we flew to Reykjavik with British Airways and Kim’s luggage went missing for five days so our optimism was beginning to sink to our boots.
The aircraft landed at Alexandros Papadiamantis Airport, named after one of the most famous writers in all of Greece who was born and lived on the island of Skiathos. Later in the week I visited his house, a museum now and purchased a translation of one of his short story novels.
At the baggage reclaim we optimistically watched the conveyor belt complete about five full cycles, maybe six, maybe seven, and a forlorn pink suitcase go round at least four times, when it slowly began to dawn on us that the bag probably wasn’t going to come through the little hole in the wall where the luggage came from. I had a last look through the heavy plastic flaps to see if maybe it had fallen off the belt before coming through but it was hopeless. We had to concede the inevitability of our predicament that we were completely without luggage except for my epi-pens and the phone chargers.
It was nine o’clock in the evening, the supermarkets were shut so we were forced to take a taxi (I hate taking taxis) and ask the driver to find us somewhere where we might be able to purchase essentials. He took us to a mini-market where Kim concentrated on shampoo, deodorant and soap and I looked for a couple of bottles of wine. We continued to the hotel in stunned silence.
At the Agnadi hotel and studios there was happily something to smile about, the location was excellent, the rooms were very good in that very simple Greek style and after we had settled in (quite a short process of course with no luggage to unpack) we returned to the hotel bar and small restaurant and enjoyed a really rather fine Greek meal. We looked forward to a confirmation e-mail that the luggage would be delivered the following day. I confess that I didn’t go to bed in an especially optimistic mood.
Sometime during the night I received an e-mail apologising for the problem with the luggage and explaining that due to logistical issues the bags wouldn’t be arriving today after all. Apparently they were being taken from East Midlands airport to Birmingham. I wasn’t especially surprised about that I have to say. It thanked me for my understanding and patience which I thought was rather presumptuous because I was neither. It was a no-reply email so I was unable to tell them that. On the positive side it offered financial compensation 0f £50 for each bag on production of receipts for essential items. As far as I was concerned everything in my bag was essential so £50 wasn’t going to adequately cover it.
My heart sank for a moment but it lifted immediately when I opened the door of the room and I was rewarded with a most wonderful view.