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Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Back, with luggage Austin TX, Sunday, 26 January 2014 6:00am

Adrienne and I stopped by the same cafe/art gallery this morning, just as they opened, to grab some house-made chai before we headed to the airport. It was totally worth the trouble.

At the ticket counter, the agent for Avianca told me she'd checked my scuba bag all the way to Austin, which surprised me, because Houston was the place where I'd be passing through customs, and you generally have to retrieve your checked baggage and recheck it. I was surprised enough that I asked her a second time in English, to be sure I hadn't misunderstood in Spanish. But I didn't think more of it at the time.

My carry-on seemed suspicious today. The X-Ray tech had me show him the cables I had, and looked with some concern at my computer's charging cable. Eventually, he decided that it was what it seemed to be and let me go on my way.

I had a short hop (another ATR-42 turbo prop) to Managua. It seems that it's rare for anyone to fly from San Jose to Managua to make a connection. There was no "connecting flights" path once we arrived, and I had to explain to the immigration officer that I wasn't actually intending to enter Nicaragua. A security guard escorted me upstairs, where I was handed off to a second security guard, who took me to a little passenger screening area at the end of the departures level and they X-Rayed my bag again. This time, the tech thought he saw a knife, so we unpacked most of the bag until he was satisfied that whatever he saw wasn't a knife.

It was a fairly short flight to Houston, and I used my Global Entry status for the first time, passing through immigration without talking to an officer. That got me to the baggage claim well before our flight's baggage started appearing.

After a fairly long wait at carousel 10 (where we'd been told that our baggage would arrive), one of my fellow passengers noticed that our flight was actually being unloaded to carousel 8 (along with two or three other flights). I waited another thirty minutes or so, but my bag never arrived. I'd already missed my connecting flight by the time the baggage handlers told me I should make a claim at my final destination. They said there was no way it would make it through today, because customs would treat it as suspicious since I hadn't picked it up.

By this point, Adrienne had arrived (she didn't have a stop in Managua), and I was able to get a seat on her flight, since mine had already left. One more quick hop and we were in Austin.

I went to the luggage desk to report my lost luggage, and, to my surprise, the person on duty told me that my tag had been scanned minutes earlier in Austin. Sure enough, as I went out to check the carousel, my bag was arriving. I can only assume that they'd found it between when I gave up and when the plane boarded an hour later, and that customs had done a quick check (the bag had clearly been opened and re-closed, since it's newly missing a zipper pull and was locked at the strap, not the zipper) and got it on my new flight.

Emily and Bug were kind enough to pick us up at the airport and take us to dinner at a Tex-Mex restaurant before dropping us home. Since my midday meal had been an airplane sandwich on the very first hop, I was famished.

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