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Left behind: The luggage edition - Curt Yeomans

Right now, my toothbrush, razor and shoes are somewhere in Europe.

Where in Europe, is anyone's guess.

On July 25, a piece of luggage traveling with my family from London Stansted Airport to Shannon International Airport in Ireland disappeared. Everybody had something in it. The contents of this luggage included the dress shoes that I used for work, all of our toiletry items, cases of tea purchased at Harrods in London and other little gifts picked up in London and Paris during the preceding week.

Now, let me start by explaining the scene at the Ryanair ticket counters at 6 a.m., on the morning of our flight to Ireland. About 300 people, who had to fly on Ryanair out of Stansted that morning, were all gathered in front of the check-in counters, and it was every traveler for himself. Frequently, a Ryanair employee would yell out instructions to the crowd, but no one could hear what he was saying. A speaker system was never used.

Occasionally, Ryanair employees would peer out over a wall behind the check-in counters to see what was going on. However, whenever people tried to get the attention of these employees, the employees would quickly duck behind the wall, and not come back.

One girl began yelling at Ryanair employees about the mess. Because there were so many people there, and since they were not exactly right next to me, I didn't hear everything that was said. I did hear, however, the Ryanair employee repeatedly saying, "Mam, please calm down." And the girl could be heard screaming, "Well call the police then!" s

It took us nearly two hours to get through the massive crowd, to a desk to check-in for our flight. So we get to the desk, and the woman says, "Oh, you're not supposed to check-in at this counter; you're supposed to check-in at that counter that is across the aisle from us." We screamed that we should have been told that before we waited for two hours.

The woman got huffy with us and said, "Well, you should have checked the board when you came in the airport." Now, mind you, when we go to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, you can just go up to any person working at your airline's counter and check-in. That's what we were used to.

So, we quickly ran to the correct counter, checked in our luggage, and finally made out flight - barely on time, and only because the mass of chaos held up everyone else on our flight. We get to Shannon, and every piece of luggage comes off, except that one little piece of luggage.

Our European vacation ended on July 31, but apparently this one piece of luggage is still living it up on the other side of the pond.

And the thing is, neither the airport, nor the airline we were flying on, Ireland-based Ryanair, seem to want to take responsibility for the missing luggage. So far, it's been a case of each side pointing the finger at the other and saying, "They did it," in unison.

The airline said there was a breakdown in the luggage-loading area on that particular day, and they had 10 people whose luggage was apparently still at Stansted airport - but it still had to be found. That was the story on July 26. The luggage had been missing for a day at that point.

We kept trying and trying and trying to get Ryanair on the phone for the entire week for an update, but we got what we think is an Irish busy signal. We finally got them on the phone, and the answer we got was that Stansted Airport wasn't returning their calls, like a love interest that wasn't interested anymore.

So, we get back to Georgia, and we find on Stansted's web site a section that tells people if they are missing their luggage, it is not the airport's responsibility, and the owner of the absent baggage should contact their airline.

OK, it's time to talk to someone from the airport.

Well, we finally get someone from Stansted Airport on the phone, and their response is, "Oh, well your airline is currently going through our luggage hold area, trying to find about 1,000 pieces of missing luggage. Sorry."

I think it's time either Stansted Airport, or Ryanair brings our luggage home. I would like to finally enjoy my Earl Grey Tea from Harrods.

Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at cyeomans@news-daily.com.