Friday 12th December 2008 was quite something and I was depressed for a while because of it. Maybe it was the nostalgia of going back to Budapest, a city I had long said goodbye to and would have found difficult to connect to again after 3 years, nonetheless it was important to go back as it was important for the family to pay homage to the place where I lost my father so suddenly exactly 3 years ago.
My last trip flight to Budapest was full of anxiety wondering what state my dad was in and fearing the worst…which happened for real. So I certainly wasn’t looking to re-create that emergency trip I made. But I guess we all have to face our ghosts..
Blunder No. 1
..The real bummer was the double blunder that happened even before me and the family were to board the plane this time. First we missed our 8.10am flight to Budapest. We were always going to struggle a bit since we live in Leytonstone, a fair way east. We missed the tube to Kings X, the train from Kings X to Luton had taken 50 mins instead of our planned 20 mins and the station-airport coach waited for ages. By the time we made it to the airport we were late by 10 mins and the check-in was shut. I was gob smacked and really had no way to react! I’ve travelled all over the world since I was 6 months old and this was the first time we missed a flight……ever. I could hardly believe we messed this one up…but these things happen. So we spent another £50 per person for the next flight due out at 8.00pm. This gave us about 12 hours to kill at Luton airport. I had taken the Friday off work which I was now spending at Luton airport.
Blunder No. 2
After our long wait that included Luton airport breakfast, lunch and dinner we were finally on our way. We got through to security check and got to the point where we had to put our worldly belongings on to the x-ray machine and take our shoes/belts off. I had just got a phone call from Tina and hurriedly ended the call as I explained to her I was going to be frisked any second! I had put everything including my jacket, rucksack and keys etc in that little box that went into the x-ray machine. But I still had my phone in my pocket..
…As I got frisked my frisker asked for my phone and gave it to someone else as far as I gathered. I got checked and then joined the rest of my family and picked up my jacket + rucksack and little things in the box. I had no idea where my phone was though? The guy surely put in the mini box or just on the conveyor, I had no idea! I looked around for it…looked back and saw everyone putting on their shoes, jackets and picking up their own phones, one after another..but my phone was not in there.
They don’t care (they don’t have to)
I asked my checker what he did with my phone? He didn’t seem the least bit concerned, and was even a bit annoyed that I was hassling him! Wtf???? He lost my phone ffs! I asked him again after 5 mins and he told me to ask the people at both security conveyor belts either side of me to check if they have anything reported. I waited and asked…no phone. I had a really bad feeling about this and I was right…that phone was not going to be found.
In the meantime I kept calling my phone from my brother’s phone…but it was on silent and it kept ringing and ringing. If someone had stolen it they would have been pretty p*ssed off and would have shut the phone. So clearly it wasn’t stolen per se..Luckily the staff at the side were a little bit more helpful, they told me to wait a bit more. One guy even called my phone from his personal mobile and someone picked the phone up, wohooooooooo! But guess what…it was a little kid’s sound on the phone….the kid didn’t even know how to hang up the phone and as the guy shouted on the phone to get its attention nothing happened. So we had to hang up. Tactic now was to wait another 30 mins before the kids parents would realise and return the phone to lost property.
30mins pass…Luton airport has no procedure or reporting process to record lost property..they have a number I can dial on working days (It’s Friday night so that’s out). Instead they advised me to phone the police and report it lost so at least I can make an insurance claim. The police is having none of it, it doesn’t recognise a phone to be lost until I have lost it for at least 2 days. I have no choice but to call 3 my phone network and get the SIM card and phone disabled.
So let’s see how Luton Airport messed it up….they treat all passengers as suspects, get baggage x-rayed, get people thoroughly checked and when it comes to our property they treat it like dirt. Clearly the guy placed the phone on its own on the conveyor belt. A lone phone is far more tempting to a little child to pick up than a phone inside one of those plastic boxes. Not only did they not take responsibility for my phone loss but the guy checking me had no sympathy or offered much help for me to trace it.
But why am I picking on Luton Airport? Aren’t all airport security experiences like that then? Actually Budapest airport were a hell of a lot more professional! I mean they had a strike there which meant that they were heavily understaffed and flights were well late…but their security were tops, they had someone making sure all the right things are placed on the tray and were very courteous towards the belongings of every passenger. Luton airport on the other hand probably had 10 times as much staff…it’s when I passed back through Budapest I realised what a bobo Luton had made.
Poor show Luton airport security staff…very poor show. I will be writing to you, let’s see what you do about it.