Whenever I see my suitcase arrive at the luggage carousel, I am genuinely surprised. No, really, I literally speak to it. I say something along the lines of “Welcome, you made it!” or “Fancy meeting you here!” or “Thank you for not getting lost” or I might even greet it in the language of the country where we landed and say “Bienvenue” or “Quelle surprise”.
I never expect my suitcase to arrive at the same time and place as me. And so, its simultaneous appearance unfailingly brings joy. You would think that I have experienced significant luggage loss. You would be wrong. There were those two times in the late 90s when my suitcase was delivered to my house a day late, full of dirty vacation laundry. It was still under the Northwest regime. Funny, everyone who flies always says that whichever airline has the monopoly in their town is notorious for losing luggage, and I, too, used to say, Northwest always loses luggage, even though it only happened twice. But I digress.
The most recent and most dramatic missing suitcase saga took place when I flew to Budapest to meet my sister. Yes, I was meeting my one and only sister for the first time ever at age forty, a momentous and exciting and life-changing event, but the fact that my suitcase remained at the transfer location of the world’s if not worst, then the most inconvenient airport threatened to ruin everything.
Like a complete travel neophyte, which I am most assuredly not, I packed all my clothes and personal belonging into my checked luggage, and all the gifts for my sister and her family into the carry on. We were spending almost an entire week together—toys for my niece could have waited. My own clean underwear and eye makeup remover could not. I actually cried all night—a fact of which I am decidedly not proud, but for some incomprehensible reason cannot stop from telling everyone. We got up in the morning, promptly found Marks and Spencer and I purchased some clothes I still wear. The fact that I managed to not get hurt while shopping there was a bonus. [https://oldladywriting.com/2020/11/02/the-first-spanish-trip/]
I have had more bad luck with luggage literally not completing the trip with me *without* getting lost. One time, spouse and I were flying to Malta, if memory serves, and at the very start of our journey, right in Detroit Metro airport, were seized with uncontrollable hatred for one of our suitcases. At that point in time, we possessed one suitcase with wheels. The other one had no wheels [ https://oldladywriting.com/2021/04/10/meet-me-in-sistine-chapel-or-rome-second-try/%5D. It suddenly struck us both as an unforgivable deficiency. We spontaneously purchased a suitcase with wheels and repacked. I stuffed the now empty wheel-less suitcase into the garbage bin of the ladies room, and worried, until we boarded our plane, that airport security will suspect it of being one of those strategically abandoned bags.
Another time, we were traveling from London to Paris via the Chunnel. On the walk to St. Pancras station, one of our suitcases, while in possession of all four wheels, unexpectedly lost a handle. I mean, its handle came off and simply could not be reattached without tools—and who has tools in the early morning on an empty street in London while on vacation? Spouse gamely hefted the case and carried it. There is even a saying in Russian, “suitcase without a handle”—awkward to carry, but a pity to abandon. Well, we were perfectly willing to abandon it by the time we arrived at the train station, after many stops and many more curses. In fact, we were looking forward to abandoning it—but not so fast. The replacement model in the station’s store was insanely expensive in pounds, let alone dollars. The handle-less suitcase made its voyage to the continent. We had better luck in Paris, and any embarrassment at packing and repacking our stuff in full view of passers-by in the middle of Gare du Nord was mitigated by relief of finally finding four working wheels AND a handle. A lovely French saleswoman politely inquired if we would like to take our empty bag with us. Never have I said “Non!” with greater emphasis (though I did politely add “Merci”).
When my son was going to Austria for a summer exchange, we duly outfitted him with two suitcases. The American group’s chaperone, a personage who generally inspired less confidence and trust in me than my 13 year old, requested printed photos of the luggage to present to the airline in the event of luggage loss. I could not convince her that that is not how any of it works, and so I printed the photos of two blue suitcases well in advance of the travel date and congratulated myself on not being hostile or passive-aggressive. Then something made one of the suitcases unavailable to travel, and it had to be replaced. What would you do? Exactly what I did, I bet: put an “X” through one of the images on the photo and write “This one is now black”.
Meanwhile, my very first wheeled suitcase is still alive and relatively well. The zipper broke, leaving it permanently expanded and unable to fit into the overhead compartment . This is an non-issue, because I check it every time I travel because, as we say back in the Old Country, one who does not take risks does not drink champagne.
 Paris Charles de Gaulle, as if you had to ask.
 See, there I go again. To be fair, of the three people that regularly read my writing, at least two already know this story.
 Fun fact—it was the self-same suitcase that was purchased in an airport. It did not last long.
 But she was persuaded that a watermelon (1) is neither uniquely American for a cultural show-and-tell in Austria nor (2) can be taken on a plane—and not because it is big and heavy and can break…
 See above. Did you notice the luggage tag?