The Time I Grabbed The Wrong Luggage At Singapore Airport

(Note: The NYT Business Travel section picked up on the adventure I describe below. Forward the story to your friends who fly.)

I was exhausted from the flight to Singapore. Having arrived at the airport, taken a cab to the hotel and checked into my room, all I could think about was removing my suit from my bag, hanging it and sleeping for ten or twelve hours. When I opened my bag, however, I couldn’t find my suit. Could I have forgotten to pack it? And where did this carton of Russian cigarettes come from? And this English-translation dictionary?

I contacted the front desk and told them about the situation. As expected, I was on my own. I returned to my room, zipped up the bag and took a cab back to the airport. There, a helpful representative escorted me through to arrivals and the baggage office. In front of the office was a large assortment of bags – I spotted mine immediately. I explained to the representative that I had accidentally taken the wrong bag from the carousel, that I was terribly sorry, and would she please help me sort it out?

I filled out a small amount of paperwork indemnifying the airplane for the poor Russian’s bag, exchanged it for my own and headed toward the airport exit. Because Singapore is the most paternal city in the world, I had to pass through security before exiting the airport to ensure I didn’t have any gum, pornography and other assorted forbidden items. The problem was, you see, that I had packed a Brian Dubè juggling machete, which is not a machete at all but a remarkable facsimile. The blade’s beveled edge looks sharp and it has the perfect balance for juggling but in fact it’s not much sharper than today’s thinnest laptops (not yet banned). I explained that I was a professional juggler performing in Singapore and that the item (that word!) was part of my show. They were surprisingly sympathetic to this and, after a little more back and forth, I was given a written authorization to bring it into the city, provided I did not remove it from the hotel.

Looking back, I was lucky that the Russian did’t end up walking away with my bag. For that matter, so was he, as I am certain he would have more difficulty explaining to the authorities why he was traveling with a machete, a garden hoe and a stuffed rabbit.

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