Just when I thought I had learned all the life lessons New Zealand had in stock for me it presented one last one – an obvious one though: Never exceed your airline’s weight limits when it comes to your luggage. Or rather: Don’t rely on having a handsome guy at the counter who will just check in your excess luggage just because you’re blonde and a ski instructor. There might only be dragon-like old women instead who are pretty unimpressed with your excuses and flirt attempts….
Anyway – here’s the story: When I had booked my flights to New Zealand in spring I paid a decent amount of money to be allowed an extra 16 kgs in my ski bag – which had worked perfectly fine on my way here. On my way back I had repacked my bags slightly different – putting most of my stuff into the ski bag to the point where I almost couldn’t carry it any more and downsizing my big suitcase to a more Thailand-friendly small backpack. In theory not a bad idea, in practice the ski bag was just too heavy for the luggage boys to lift it into the airplane. I was kindly asked to remove a couple of kgs from my ski bag and put it somewhere else. I had heard from other ski instructors that it is completely fine to strap your ski boots onto your hand luggage so I thought I’d solve the problem by doing so. Since my bag was still a couple of kgs too heavy I dressed up in my winter gear (it was 25 degrees that day and I was must have looked ridiculous showing up at the next check in counter in five layers of winter clothing).
The ski bag was fine now and could get checked in but this time they argued about the weight of my hand luggage and even made me weigh my ski boots individually to proof that they were too heavy for cabin luggage. Time was running and I got so desperate that I even offered to put on my ski boots and strap my jandals to the backpack, if necessary but that wasn’t allowed “because of security reasons” (whatever they might be).
I managed to squeeze one of my ski boots into my Thailand backpack and took the other one in my hand, hoping that I would finally be allowed on the plane. Now the next problem showed up: They could see my booking of an additional sixteen kilos of luggage in their system but it seemed as if I hadn’t paid for the excess luggage. Triumphantly I pulled out my booking confirmation, with the proof of payment for excess luggage and the journey details. Just that this one flight – from Auckland to Sydney – was missing on the confirmation. Everything was there: Munich to Dubai, Dubai to Melbourne, Melbourne to Auckland and all the way back from Sydney via Bangkok and Dubai to Munich – just the leg Auckland to Sydney was nowhere to be found. I was furious and wanted to shout…. but nothing came out….
I had been terribly sick during my last days in Piha up to the point that I had completely lost my voice. So there I was – standing in five layers of winter clothing at 25 degree Auckland Airport, boiling from the heat my head had turned into an Italian tomato red, I had just dragged my 46 kgs of ski luggage to four different check in counters and I couldn’t even express my anger in style because everything that came out of my throat was a miserable rasping sound.
I checked the clock and realized that boarding had already started – the last thing I wanted was being left behind at Auckland Airport. So I regretfully paid the enormous fee for 16 kgs of excess luggage until Sydney and prayed I would make it onto the plane. As soon as my luggage had disappeared on the conveyor belt the ever calm check-in lady now started screaming that I had to run if I wanted to make it. I started sprinting through Auckland airport, in my ski clothes and with one ski boot in my hands. When I heard my name with the words “last call” over the Airport loudspeakers I speeded up a bit more and arrived heavily sweating at the gate.
Luckily, I was allowed on board – even with one ski boot in my hands…. As I sank into my seat – undecided whether I should be angry or relieved – I secretly had to start smiling. Just the picture of myself, standing there at check in – furious and red-headed but not able to express myself, dressed in winter gear and one ski boot in my hands…. It must have looked hilarious to everyone watching. I wish I would have taken a picture but that was the last thing I thought of. Feeling the ice-cold air condition streaming down on my I realized that sometimes the worst experiences make for the best stories – not while you’re in it but when you’re looking back.
Arriving in Sydney my friend Maggie sort of made up for the bad experience though: I got picked up from the Airport, her enormous boyfriend seems to have been built for carrying enormous ski bags and dragged it up to their flat without any complaint. We had a good laugh about my airport story as I whispered it to them…. And when I sank into my heavenly bed I even found a can of Almdudler and a package of Manner Schnitten on it. Sometimes, it only takes small things and a bit of humour to get over bad experiences and be happy again.