The Story So Far

[Note: This is the first in a series of posts adapted from emails I wrote while traveling to the South Pole for research in 2012--2013.]

I arrived at Boston Logan airport with hours to spare. A helpful skycap got my 33 lb box of scientific equipment to the check-in counter. I managed to check both pieces of luggage (personal and science) without difficulty. Security was a relative breeze. Then the trouble started. My flight was already 40 minutes delayed. I made some final phone calls. The total delay was more than an hour in the end. Since this would give me less than an hour to connect (and re-clear security) at LAX I was already worried. Then since I was last to board they had to check my "carry on" at the gate. Fortunately they checked it through to Christchurch so I wouldn't have to worry about it in transit. Or so I thought.

Flight to LAX was only slightly bad. I had a middle seat. Heard over the PA, "Is there a physician on board?" I got ready to run across LAX to make my next flight. Fortunately, there were enough passengers connecting to Sydney that they organized a special bus for us and held the plane.

The flight to Sydney was long and boring. The food was good, and there was unlimited entertainment of which I should have taken more advantage. Instead I tried to sleep. That failed. We got into Sydney on time. But that was when the real trouble started.

Pulling into the gate, they called for "passenger Budy" to see the gate agent. Worried that might be me, I waited and asked. It turned out my worries were confirmed. My "carry on" didn't make the connection at LAX, they said, and I needed to ask baggage services at baggage claim. Except I wasn't going to baggage claim because I was only in transit in Sydney. So I had to ask at the "transfer desk," which I needed to go to anyway to get my next boarding pass. At the transfer desk, they sent me to the gate. At the gate, they gave me a boarding pass but sent me back to the transfer desk to deal with my bag. At the transfer desk again, they said to file a missing bag report when I got to Christchurch. The plane was about to board so I decided to at least get myself to Christchurch.

The flight to Christchurch was mercifully brief. I noticed several other Antarctic participants; although, I wasn't close enough for conversation. Immigration wasn't too bad, but the trouble started again at the baggage claim before Customs. There was hardly anything on it! I decided to get NZ money and wait. Nothing continued to arrive. An agent said nothing would continue to arrive. I got in line at the baggage assistance desk. It seemed they lost lots of luggage from that flight. I eventually made my report that the airlines lost 100% of the 3 pieces I entrusted to them. As a result, I had no clothes beyond what I was wearing, and no towel.

Somewhat late because of all that, I checked in with the Antarctic program, bought some toiletries, and caught the shuttle to my hotel, Pavilions, in Christchurch. Arriving there, I crashed.

I woke up (December 3 by NZ reckoning) feeling better and hungry. Fortunately, the hotel had an all-you-can buffet. I used it. Several times.

In the next segment, you'll learn about ECW issue, where I quintupled the number of socks in my possession....

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