Leaving your passport in your hold luggage

Well that’s a first! Landing back at your UK airport, walking down the steps onto the runway … and then realising you’ve put your passport into the hold and you can’t get through passport control.

Imagine being greeted by this .. but WITHOUT your passport

Imagine being greeted by this .. but WITHOUT your passport. Source: Oilofulay

Well that happened to me just last week as I returned from the Berlin Marathon, but how can this happen?! Well EasyJet have a policy these days of picking out a handful of customers at the departure gate and asking them to have their hand luggage put into the hold at the last minute free of charge. This is to free up space in the cabin and never bothers me as it’s one less thing to have to then lug on-board … as long as you take out what you need for the plane of course! And this time for some reason I failed to take out my passport! I blame this forgetfullness on the Steins from the night before!

The Easyjet attendent mentioned something about taking out cameras and iPads, this possibly being for travel insurance reasons and/or not wanting more delicate consumables to be damaged. Maybe she mentioned passports but I’m pretty sure she didn’t! Anyway happy as Larry I boarded the flight with just my camera bag and water bottle on me and enjoyed the 1h40m flight home.

Luton Airport Passport Control but without my passport

Luton Airport Passport Control but without my passport. Source: Channel4.com

As soon as my feet touched the tarmac I realised! Oh shit! My passport! Meh! What’s the worse that can happen? Simply show your picture driving license to get through passport control instead?, or get “rubber gloved”? Gulp! I immediately spoke to an member of staff manning a zebra crossing. She smiled wryly and replied “Speak to the passport queue guy inside”. Either she knew what was about to happen to me or she sees this kind of thing every day and knew there wasn’t any cause for concern? I’d find out shortly either way.

Nobody wants to be greeted by rubber gloves at passport control

Nobody wants to be greeted by rubber gloves at passport control! Source: Aftermathnews

So I nonchalantly greeted the hi-viz guy at the start of the passport queue informing him of my situation as if it wasn’t any real issue … so just let me back in. He directed me to a row of seats facing the bank of passport control booths and there I waited, but not before quickly pointing out the back of my girlfriend’s head as she’d already headed off to the automatic passport booths. “Hopefully” she’d remember what my standard, ubiquitous, little, black wheelie bag looked like; my passport sitting neatly in my travel wallet in its front pocket.

So there I sat, just me, feeling a bit like a rumbled refugee, or at least a naughty little boy as the rest of the plane shuffled past. Five minutes later I was still sat there. My iPhone battery had died on the flight (not that you’re allowed to use it in passport control anyway) and even if it had been working I wasn’t able to take a sorrowful looking selfie for security reasons. However I “did” have my battery charger on me so ever so slowly my phone sparked back into life with the white Apple logo stuck on the screen for longer than usual before it allowed me to log in. This was in case my girlfriend was at the baggage carousel frantically calling me to ask what my bag looked like again.

After what seemed like an age the bearded hi-viz guy returned, passport in hand. He asked me my full name while holding it up to my face and that was that. The similarly bearded passport booth guy I’d been sat opposite for the last 15 minutes beckoned me forwards. He knew what I’d done, and that was it! A 10 second check and off I went.

Tweeting Easyjet about passports in hand luggage

Tweeting Easyjet about passports in hand luggage

But this does beg the question what would happen if I’d been travelling alone and there’d been no-one to spot my “hold” – I mean “hand” luggage!! I guess my bag would have been the last one forlornly circling the carousel but that could have lead to a 30 minute sweaty wait rather than just my self-induced 10 minute one!

So note to self. Keep your passport on you at all times or keep a smaller bag on you for plane stuff which contains your passport. I sent a tweet to EasyJet saying they should make sure the customers take their passports out first before any hand luggage goes in to the hold but I haven’t received an answer back yet.

Oh well. Lesson learnt. No rubber gloves. No harm done! 🙂

Has anybody else done something similar on their travels?

My "hand" luggage and passport where I like to keep item!

My “hand” luggage and passport where I like to keep it

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Flying in Concorde – what was it like?

Sadly Concorde stopped flying in 2003. This was due to the Paris airport crash of 2000, the general downturn in the commercial aviation industry as well as increasing maintenance costs. The world suddenly became a bigger place again on 25th October, the day after it stopped flying.

Concorde G-BOAA after we'd safely landed 1h40m later

Concorde G-BOAA after we’d safely landed 1h40m later

Much has been written about Concorde’s history, celebrity passengers, sad demise and of late its potential new lease of life in 2019 if enthusiasts are able to get a single Concorde back in the air again. But what was it like to fly in?

The most popularised route was London to New York but few people realise there were shorter, chartered trips available too. One such regular trip was London Heathrow to the Bay of Biscay, just north of Spain, and back again (a big 1h 40m loop route) and in 1989 I was lucky enough to be on such a trip with ‘Flights of Fantasy’. In doing so I became one of “just” 2.5m passengers to experience Concorde at twice the speed of sound.

About to board our chartered Concorde back in 1989

About to board our chartered Concorde back in 1989

After a champagne reception in the trip’s own private departure lounge we boarded Concorde and found our seats in row 15. You felt like you were in a small tube, with just 2 seats either side of the aisle, little headroom and small windows to look out of (apparently to limit the speed of decompression if there was an incident at its higher altitudes).

There's wasn't much room in the cabin

There’s wasn’t much room in the cabin

The most noticeable difference though between flying in Concorde compared to a normal passenger plane was the punch in the back we got as it accelerated along the runway along with the much steeper angle of climb at take-off (250 mph and 22° compared to 170mph and 10° for a 747). Also the fact that you knew you were doing something special and people would be looking up in the air pointing no matter what their age, status or background.

Our meal consister of fruit appetiser, corn-fed chicken and cheese crackers

Our meal consister of fruit appetiser, corn-fed chicken and cheese crackers

Onboard there was a green digital instrument in the bulkhead in front of us that displayed the speed in Mach with a resounding cheer when we hit Mach 1 and then a further one at Mach 2. Although we were flying at 1,334mph there was absolutely no difference in the cabin itself or any sense of this speed when we transitioned from subsonic to 1 and then onto 2. Only if you saw a plane out of the window below you going backwards would you have been able to appreciate Concorde’s sheer speed. Only military aircraft were able to fly faster!

Visiting the flight engineer up in the cockpit

Visiting the flight engineer up in the cockpit

In the days before terrorism we were even allowed to wander up to the flight deck to see through the cockpit window and speak to the pilots. Far, far more innocent times, something that sadly would be unheard of today. Nobody onboard that day would have believed that 14 years later it would be taken out of service and not replaced with something even quicker. Of the 20 operational aircraft that were built 18 remain preserved today with our plane G-BOAA now being housed at the National Museum of Flight in East Lothian, Scotland. That’s why it’s great news that Concorde might once again grace our skies and allow us to go forwards rather than backwards once more.

Check out also this great piece on Concorde in the Independent by Simon Calder