We’re in Uganda again, finally. These kinds of trip woes we have blissfully avoided up until now, so finally encountering them is not soooo bad in retrospect, I guess. Good travel regimen suggests the wise traveler take certain measures so as to be prepared for such unexpected happenings, but, while we used to take these precautions religiously, I’m afraid we’ve become lulled into poor discipline from our many painless trips – didn’t even have pictures of every bag for identification purposes.

Also, I’m a bit of a procrastinator and historically pack toward the last minute. This trip we packed early using the two weeks before to gradually pull everything together, having our bags packed, sealed and weighed by the weekend before the Tuesday morning we were scheduled to leave. I’m sure my wife, who is quite the opposite from my style of packing, will never agree with this, but this I have to confess, the slow and relaxed pace of the packing lacked the hard-edged “screaming last-minute” alertness that comes from knowing you’re leaving for the airport in 5 hours and can’t find items 53 and 72 on your packing list, which by the way, is my own personal definition of mindfulness – but I may have that wrong. So without that last minute burst of horrified adrenaline to sharpen my “packing sense,” I’m, not really confident we have everything.

So be warned, wary travelers, pack one night’s change of underwear in your carry-ons. Mix your personals between several bags so that you will still get something if one or several of the bags decide to take a side-trip on the way to your destination. I well remember many years ago on some cross-country trip the bag that was finally returned to us days late that bore tags clearly stamped “Maui.” Our errant suitcase apparently had a much better vacation than we did, because it was many years before we ever made it personally to Maui.

This trip started off great. We were at the airport early, found the airport Dunkin’ Donuts and sugared up for the coming adventure – everything was perfect. I am wearing a sling for my right arm, mostly to remind me not to lift anything heavy like suitcases because of a hole in my rotator cuff that will see surgery in July after we get back. It’s more difficult to navigate one-armed, of course, but on the flip-side, we are boarded early on every flight, stewardesses are unusually helpful and sympathetic, as are other passengers. Am I above milking this a little? Probably not….

So everyone was seated in their seats, anticipating a short flight to our first stop in Atlanta. We would connect there with our Amsterdam flight and were both excited about the adventure ahead of us; the doors were closed, the staff was battening down for the flight, and all seemed in order in the world. Then the pilot came on the speaker and announced that we needed to deplane because the mechanics had found a faulty part and needed to replace it. Well, a bit inconvenient, but we preferred they found this problem while the plane was still on the ground, so we deplaned without grumbling.

We waited a bit and then the overhead sign posted that the flight would continue at 1pm. It was now 11:30 so we went and got some lunch – personally, I don’t think I’ll try the airport BBQ again. We returned to our gate, and the sign posted that the flight would continue at 3:30. We could still make our connection to Amsterdam, so we sat down to wait. The information machine was going through the crowd by then, and someone informed us that they ironically had to send the part for our aircraft sitting from Atlanta – go figure.

Anyway, by the time they had delayed our flight one more time, we realized we could not make our connections, and were not going to get out of Dallas that day, so we rebooked the flight for the next day, Wednesday, at the same time, connections through Detroit this time, and headed out to collect our bags and go home to spend the night in our own bed. Then they informed us that our bags, which were supposed to be on that very plane we could still see sitting at the gate, were already on their way to Atlanta by some time warping/interdimensional method that I still don’t understand. Say what? No no, your bags travel with you – what are they doing on another plane that’s already in the air, one noticeably that we are not seated on? See? I told you earlier that suitcases sometimes take on an itinerary of their own and go off without you to see the world.

Even the guy in the baggage office was a little perplexed by this, and he informed us that if our bags were sitting and waiting for us in Atlanta (like good little bags), they would never continue on in a timely fashion if we were routed through Detroit. Who knew? So now we had to cancel those tickets and get tickets back through Atlanta, so we could reconnect (psychically) with our bags.

Long story short: We restarted on Wednesday, got numerous assurances from the personnel at the computers in both Atlanta and Amsterdam that our bags were on board and would arrive with us in Uganda. Of course, when we collected our bags in Entebbe, we were one bag short. We filed paperwork for an hour, and finally limped into our hotel room around midnight. KLM assures us, by email even, that our bag, which apparently wanted to visit Atlanta for an extra day or so, would finally meet us in Jinja on Saturday (smile, wink, wink).

So be warned, my friends, I can give you this wisdom from the school of medium knocks (we did arrive with most of our luggage, after all): when you take long journeys while turning over your personals to total strangers, plan ahead for the change of underwear thing!