Saturday, September 4, 2010

Who's on first? or the story of excess baggage.

So, yesterday I went to get my by unaccompanied air luggage. They hadn't notified me that it arrived - it turned out they were planning on doing this by letter mail, so good thing I didn't wait around. Silly me, I went to the airport (I should have known better, but probably would still have done the same thing because I could get there by public transport). Once there, I asked at Tourist Information and was told that the correct location to pick up the suitcases was an office two doors down the hall on the right. I clarified that it wasn't lost luggage, but was assured that it was to be picked up in the same place.

So, I wandered down the hall and asked at the indicated office. The agent told me that the cargo shipping place was quite a drive from the airport, but that I could probably get there by bus and that I should ask at the information kiosk upstairs in the main terminal how to do this.

So, I went upstairs. The woman there tells me I can't get there by bus, I need to take a taxi.
I went out to the taxi stand, and none of the drivers have a clue where the cargo shipping terminal is.
I went back to tourist information office, where a new person told me that there was a cargo shipping place at each end of the airport and I needed to know in advance which one my luggage was going to be arriving at.

Next, I went back up to the woman at the information kiosk to see if tourist info man was right - no, he wasn't. She also couldn't understand why the taxi drivers didn't know where the cargo terminal was, because it was less than 10km away. I finally convinced her to write down the address anyways.

Then, armed with the address, I went back to the taxi stand. I got grumpy cabbie, who kicked me out of the cab at a traffic light in an industrial park in the general vicinity of the cargo terminal. He was probably just bitter there was no way he was going to pick up another fare out there.

So, I wander into the industrial park. It is about a kilometer long. None of the loading bays closer to the entrance looked to be associated with airlines, so I checked at the customs office for directions. The agent told me that KLM cargo (the one I needed) was associated with Swissport, and was about 300m further down the strip. I finally make it to the Swissport office, only to find out that KLM is affiliated with Air France, 200m the other way. I finally make it to the right place, and am given forms and told to take them to the customs office. This also takes several tries, because there are multiple customs offices for different things - import, export, computers, etc.

The happy ending is that the taxi driver on the way home was very nice about loading the boxes, and even gave me a gummy bear. Then I went to buy a cell phone, I had one picked out and everything, and the salesman couldn't open the inventory drawer so I had to go elsewhere.

Because this entry is so long, I've included some pictures of plane trees and a half-timbered wine bar like a good North American tourist.

Plane trees
Half-timbered wine bar, built in the 1460s

Both photos taken in Stuttgart

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