International travel is getting increasingly dangerous for Americans and here is one of the reasons why. As an American, I have a bubble around me that others see. They don’t always see me. And what does that bubble look like?
Regardless of where you go and what you believe, this is becoming a problem for Americans traveling overseas. But recently, I got to experience this up close and personal when a Norwegian Air baggage attendant threatened to arrest me after I complained about lost luggage.
It’s getting dangerous out there ladies.
You’ve trusted Mamavation for information on the best air purifier, safest cookware & best organic mattresses, now join us as I tell you my story of how my lost luggage turned into threats of arrest, assault, and getting berated by an attendant working for Norwegian Airlines in front of my 13-year-old son and his first trip to Europe.
When You Take Your 13-Year-Old to Visit Family in Europe for the First Time You Don’t Expect To Be Arrested
I’ve never dreamed of saying something like this to my 13-year-old, but what do you say in a time like this?
“Honey, if mommy is arrested. I need you to pretend like you don’t know me. Just get in line, get on the plane, and then contact your father when you get home.”
The next 30 minutes were so frightening that I had a panic attack that lasted for about two hours. By the time I got onto the plane, tears were streaming down my face for at least another ninety minutes. But I digress.
It all started with Norwegian Air losing my luggage en route to Bergen, Norway, to visit family. At the airport they gave me documentation on how to contact them, baggage claim numbers, and a website link. When I woke up that morning, I started calling and the phone just kept ringing. It went on like that for four days. By day three, I was getting annoyed. Very annoyed. I was at the point of washing my underwear at night and putting it on when it’s still wet in the morning. I was also in a very remote place in Norway where the closest small market was a 15-minute drive along one lane Fjords. There were no plus-sized stores within a two-hour drive of me and I didn’t really have access to drive a car.
I got on twitter and started #saveleahsunderwear as a way to laugh and get their attention. I teased them about how they secretly just want everyone to be nude in Norway. We Americans are so puritan! I was desperate, but still in pretty good spirits. I kept saying to myself “I’m not letting them ruin my vacation with my son and his first trip to Europe.” So I hiked fjords and went on boat rides with mostly the same clothes and something I borrowed from my aunt. By the end of day four, they finally contacted us and my family arranged to pick up the suitcase an hour away at the train station.
What happened next is the part where traveling internationally can become dangerous.
Be Very Careful How You Complain to Baggage Attendants at the Gatwick Airport Outside London
I had planned on submitting a formal complaint to Norwegian Air in between connecting flights at the Gatwick Airport outside London. When I got to the airport in Bergen, that’s when things starting getting strange. The machine wouldn’t give me a ticket, so I had to go to the attendant. She kept saying “what have they done to your ticket?” and staring at the computer. Then she tagged our bags and let us inside. Every time I went through an attendant, I was given extra screening. What I didn’t realize is someone inserted the SSSS code on my ticket which opens me up to harassment by all the attendants every time I pass. By the time I got to the terminal at Gatwick to get our connecting flight, things got really bad.
When we were 30 minutes from boarding the plane, I spoke to the Norwegian Air baggage attendant in Terminal 19 going to Los Angeles on August 12th. She was English, in her mid-50s, short brown hair in a bob cut with brown eyes and glasses. I told her what had happened with my luggage and asked her to check to see if our bags were indeed on the next plane. Right away she was very rude to me and started arguing with me about who’s responsibility it is when bags are lost, how this isn’t her problem, and then she muttered something about all of this being my President’s fault. That’s when the argument started where I said “what does my president have anything to do with my lost luggage?” and she went on and on. She insisted my luggage was on the flight. Later I asked her for her name so I could include her name in a formal complaint that I was now going to do in Los Angeles. She refused to say what her name was to “protect her identity.” That’s when I attempted to take a picture of her so I could identify her in some way in my formal complaint. She then struck my hand. And you can see her hitting me my phone here.
Then that’s when it got really bad.
She started to lose it. Full meltdown. Yelling and waving her arms screaming she was going to have me arrested. (Huh? You hit ME lady.) She demanded that I erase the photo on my phone. The photo was clearly not recognizable of her, but she didn’t care. She was screaming anyway. I deleted it (and later retrieved it) but that didn’t calm her down at all.
I began to wonder if she had all her marbles.
Then the security guard comes over. He was mostly a pleasant guy but totally enabled her to abuse me. He basically ended up babysitting her while she started to taunt me and just sat back with a smirk on his face. He may have been secretly enjoying this. She was saying “come on! take another picture of me! I dare you! You’ll be arrested right here!” She actually said that remarkably about three times. I kept looking over at him shocked by her open taunting of me and he didn’t seem to think that was out of the ordinary.
At this point, I’m thinking. Uh oh, this is a big problem. I just got hit, yelled at and then threatened with jail time. This woman is either a lunatic or someone who really enjoys that bit of power she has way too much. And this security guard is allowing her to taunt me. I’m in another country and out of my league here.
But what happened next was even odder, so it had me feeling uncertain about the outcome of the situation. Was I going to jail or not? I had no idea. I basically was told to sit down by security while she continued to taunt me. Literally, as I was walking away from her.
But was I getting arrested? They didn’t really say.
I had priority boarding, so when that was called about 15 minutes later, I looked up to see if they were looking at me. They weren’t so we made a dash to the airplane and got on board. I was so frightened I left a bag in the waiting area, which the attendants later got for me. Then for about another 90 minutes or so I was petrified thinking about the possibility of getting arrested when I got home. I started to hyperventilate and tears were streaming down my face. It was a full-blown panic attack.
I’m sure everyone just thought I was afraid to fly.
Airline Attendants at Norwegian Air Are Incredible. Everything Else Is Not.
By the time I got off the plane and no one hassled me, I was relieved. Then we got to the baggage claim where I saw the airline attendants. I told them the story about what happened and they looked at each other with this look of disbelief. And one of the attendants said to me that a woman had just walked up to them five minutes ago to tell them the “almost identical story” about how she threatened another passenger with arrest after she complained to them about lost luggage.
Now, of course, I’m thinking, thank GAWD I didn’t give in to her taunting. She wanted to arrest someone and baited both of us. Geez.
They offered to submit a formal complaint about her for me. They knew exactly who she was and “she has been a problem before.” To hear this, made me feel such relief. Here I thought I was some kind of monster at the terminal and didn’t realize it and that wasn’t the case at all. She IS a bit of a lunatic.
I’m not sure if this other passenger was an American, but If I was a betting woman, I would bet on it.
Lost Luggage Again, and Again, And Again
So you’ll never guess what happened when I was waiting for my bags. Nothing. All the bags came down and our two sets of luggage were not on the plane.
So here’s the big question for you all to answer: Do you think she re-routed my luggage to another city? It’s been close two days now and they still haven’t “found” them.