What have British Airways done with my camera?
A couple of days ago I flew to Sicily (I'm giving a couple of lectures on a Voyages to Antiquity cruise). I left home in a terrible rush, and felt certain I would have forgotten something vital from passport to swimming costume). So by the time I was driving from Catania to Palermo to reach the ship, and had gone through the mental checklist and concluded that everything was present and correct, I was feeling pretty pleased with myself/relieved.
Pride coming before a fall, as it turned out.
Yesterday morning I decided I wanted to take a better picture of Palermo harbour than my iphone would manage, but the camera was nowhere to be found. I distinctly remember putting it in the basket I was using for hand-luggage (and the husband confirmed that it was not on the kitchen table, where I had last sighted it).
A bit of calm reflection suggested that it most likely came out of the basket in the overhead bin in the aeroplane, and I just hadn't noticed when I pulled the basket down. So BA Lost Property was to be the first port of call . . . and so I got my excellent assistant back in Cambridge onto the case, armed with all the vital info -- flight number, seat number, detailed description of the missing object (Red Canon Ixus in a natty little, not quite matching, purple case).
Well it turns out to be harder to get in touch with Lost Property than you might imagine, at least if you actually want to speak to a human being. And anyway, the website is pretty clear that property left on an aeroplane is not BA's responsibility at all (really? can't see why it is any different from leaving something in a hotel); they just hand everything to the ground staff of the airport concerned. The basic rule is that you have to "communicate" the best way you can with the arrival airport, wherever that happens to be.
Now there is no real chance that in a 30 minute turnaround at Catania, my little camera would have showed up. If I missed it in the bins, then my bet is that the speed cleaners would have done so too. It seems much more likely that it would have been spotted when it was given a more thorough once over at Gatwick that night.
So, at this point Debbie thought she would try the BA Executive club. I spend so many thousand quid a year with this airline, that you would have thought their Frequent Flyer operation might at least consider it worthwhile to be sympathetic at least to my plight. Not a bit of it. An officious lady gave her the same instructions.... communicate with the arrival airport.
Well, if you ring Catania airport's baggage section, you don't get anywhere unless you have a claim number to key into the phone (and I haven't got a claim number, as I havent got through to anyone to make a claim). So Debbie has emailed the airport enquiries address, asking if the said Canon Ixus has been found.
What remote chance do you imagine there is that she will get a reply?
The irony is that on the flight I had been chatting to my next door neighbour (a member of BA cabin crew on holiday) about the virtues of BA over Ryanair. And I had recounted the story of how some years ago BA had located the son's mobile phone wedged down the side of a seat, and brilliantly returned it. Contrast Ryanair who shrugged their shoulders when the same thing happens, and it spent the rest of its short life flying round Europe (as we concluded from the different languages in which the "this phone is switched off" message came up, when we phoned it).
Anyway, credit where it is due. Apart from Debbie, the other hero of the story is the husband. The truth is that a need a camera, not just to take pics of Palermo harbour ( I am going on to Rome to start making the documentary). So -- brilliantly -- he went out and bought me a replacement and is giving it to a friend coming out to Rome tomorrow.
Rather beyond the call of husbandly duty.
But just in case.... if anyone finds a little red Canon Ixus in a BA overhead bin of a Gatwick flight, it's probably mine.