The Science Experiment Continues

In my last post, I blogged about jamming a month’s worth of apparel into my carry on. But can I do better? What about just a backpack? What about just a backpack that was initially intended to accompany a carry on? Well, we shall find out, because Lufthansa lost my luggage. How could that be, you wonder? Isn’t the point of a carry on that you carry it on to the plane so that it is always close to you? Wonder no more, because I’m going to tell you.

When I learned that my connecting flight had been changed because of snow in Frankfurt, I envisioned several inches of wet slush. Jetways are not guaranteed in Frankfort. Sometimes you have to walk from the plane down steep metal stairs, to a bus that drives you to a door where you find yet more stairs, and if you are lucky, a working escalator. Carrying 26 pounds, plus backpack, through all that was not an appealing prospect. So, I checked said bag. But only to Frankfort. I’m no fool. What if the snow was so bad I was stuck overnight in Frankfort? I’d definitely want my jammies.

I was feeling pretty good about my decision as I walked down the stairs and onto the bus (yep, no jetway– but not much snow), but those feelings quickly evaporated as I watched bag after bag arrive. None of them being mine. How could you lose a bag that got on a plane in Newark, that landed in Frankfort? The list of life’s mysteries just got one item longer.

Here’s what immediately went through my jet lagged mind:

  • good thing I bought travel insurance
  • For once in my life, I have a complete record of everything my bag contained. Who knew blogging could be so very helpful?
  • Everything that is not easily replaced is in my backpack: my iPad, iPhone, chargers, camera, passport, money and charge cards
  • I’m so glad I only checked the bag through to Frankfort, because when Lufthansa changed my flight they put me on TAP Portugal. Can you imagine what a nightmare it might have been trying to figure out which airline was responsible for losing my bag? I know Lufthansa is responsible, and more importantly, so do they.
  • Let’s see how I do with this challenge. I only have the clothes that I am wearing and no toiletries. Snacks and a flight pillow aren’t all that helpful now, but the Motrin may come in handy.
  • Will my Amazon Prime work for deliveries in Portugal?

The line for customer service at Lufthansa was surprisingly short. When I asked the rep about the probability my bag would be found the same day, she said it was slim. So, since I was only going to be in Lisbon one night, I gave her the address of my hotel in Beja. She said they would call and email me with updates.

So what little pearls of wisdom can I share from my science experiment?

  • Lisbon has amazing malls, and the staff there actually HELP you, which was important in figuring out my size. I didn’t have the time or the energy to try things on. In Italy, I was saddened to learn only “molto grosso” fit; in Argentina, it was “muy grande”. In Lisbon, I was “medium”.
  • I didn’t need to know Portuguese to translate this sign. Bet you can figure it out too.
  • I CAN get by with one change of underwear, just not THIS one…
  • A tee shirt is still great for sleeping, just like in college
  • Next time, put an adapter in my backpack. Luckily, the mail had an electronics shop, but you can’t always count on that, plus they aren’t cheap – €20 or about $25 for a basic model.
  • My toiletry essentials are toothpaste (the hotel gave me a tiny tube but it tasted terrible), deodorant, a comb and brush
  • Shampoo works fine as laundry detergent
  • Although my underwear was perfectly dry by morning, my shirt was not. Wrapping it in a towel did NOT work. I tried the hair dryer, but it kept switching off after a few minutes. The front desk explained it was a “safety feature” to keep it from overheating. Good thing I kept the plastic bag from my shopping extravaganza for my damp shirt.
  • Not all hotels supply conditioner. It is wise to read labels so you don’t put body lotion in your hair
  • Conditioner DOES make a difference
  • In the future, avoid Frankfort airport. The gate for my flight to Lisbon changed THREE times.
  • Losing luggage caused my adrenaline to kick in. I was able to go without sleep for over 40 hours, then wake up completely jet lag free. Despite that happy side effect, I do NOT recommend you voluntarily replicate this experiment.

Bet you’re perched on the edge of your recliner, wondering how this saga ends? How long will our heroine have to wear the same corduroy pants and Keen sandals with socks? Are her air-cooled, memory foam Sketchers gone forever?

The good news? I got an email Saturday at 6 PM telling me the bag had arrived in Lisbon. The bad news? There was no way for me to get in touch with the courier to tell them to bring it to my Lisbon hotel. No phone number, no email address. The courier promised that EVENTUALLY it will make its way to Beja. I figure I can last a couple more days with what I have.


It’s ALL good. My bag arrived in Beja before I did. Not only that, but it was waiting for me in my room, so I didn’t have to carry it up a flight of stairs in this elevator deprived hotel.

Lufthansa has not mentioned any compensation for delayed baggage, however I have saved my receipts, and so far, they owe me €99.90, or about $125. Travel Insurance would cover up to $100, but I’m going to call Lufthansa customer service to inquire where I should send my receipts and how long before I’m reimbursed.

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I am intensely curious, with a spirit of adventure that is tempered by my very strong aversion to anything with potential to cause pain. I love travel, photography, reading, gardening, yoga, music and propelling myself through space (biking, dancing, walking, dancing while walking). I've never considered a lack of proficiency in any of the previous activities to be a hindrance, counting on abundant enthusiasm to make up for my shortcomings.

16 thoughts on “The Science Experiment Continues”

  1. Sounds like quite the start to your time away! All of your professional travel experience kicked in and you were able to rally and adjust! NOW- that’s a smart traveler. I hope you have a calm next few days to catch up on some rest.


    1. Just got my assignment. I’ll be teaching nights at the University. Tomorrow the work starts.
      Been reading the texts, so I’m up to date on the mashed potato caper. Yeesh.


  2. Omg. My flight to Venice on March 31 is via Frankfurt on Lufthansa! A few years ago we flew home from Barcelona on Lufthansa and were upgraded. I sent a thank you via email and they actually called my house to acknowledge it. I’m so glad things turned out for you, Shelley!


  3. What a start to your trip! I’m glad it all worked out but it’s such a shame you had to be put through all that (they may compensate you for the money you had to spend, but what about the time?). Funny about sizes… you aren’t a big person at all… molto grosso? muy grande? Are you visiting the land of the Lilliputians?


    1. Thanks Janet. When I’m with my husband and son I don’t feel tall, but in other countries I feel like a giantess!
      I too am glad that it all worked out so well and left me with lots of learned lessons (and tips from fellow travelers and bloggers).

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I told a friend today about your experience and the molto grosso idiocy! I bought a jacket in Chile and had to buy an extra large. My other jackets are size small! I wondered how anyone over a size 6 could buy clothes!


    1. I am way taller than most of the women and am about the height of the average Português man, so I was surprised that mediums fit so well, but then I wasn’t buying pants.
      Extra large doesn’t sound quite as bad as molto grosso, though.


  5. So I know this is a little late for you, but when I check a bag for an overseas flight, I always put an extra top and change of underwear in my backpack just in case…. But then of course you didn’t think you’d be checking your bag right? And all my adapters always stay in my backpack all the time. Along with a small bag that has a tiny toothpaste, travel toothbrush, face wipes, etc. that I normally use on the plane.

    They lost our bag when we went flew Barcelona a couple of years ago. I had enough with me to get me through the 24 hours until they delivered my bag so didn’t have to buy anything (even though I had travel insurance.)

    Then the next day my purse got stolen so watch out! (I got it back…) 🙂

    And I love El Corte Ingles! It’s actually a Spanish dept store but has branches in Portugal.

    Have a wonderful time!! Portugal is amazing… I’m ready to go back!


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