Lost & Found

If you are travelling to Jordan, a nice country to visit, do yourself a favour: don’t leave any valuables behind on the plane.  You will get it back, but not before your nerves are stretched to just before snapping point.

By way of contrast, I once left a Harrods carrier bag on a flight from London to Larnaca and when I went to collect it from the Lost Property office, I was met by a nice friendly woman who invited me inside this double roomed office which looked like Aladdin’s Cave; full of all sorts of goodies left by absent minded passengers, and she invited me to rummage around in order to find my carrier bag, which held goods worth less than £20.  I found 3 Harrods carrier bags and being the honest sort, I claimed my rightful one, irrespective of the contents of the other two bags.

On short flights I take out my mini iPad and do a couple of Sudoku puzzles while listening to music.  On a one-hour flight from Larnaca to Amman, we began our approach so, I switched off my iPad and put it in the back pocket of the seat in front of me until it was safe for me to retrieve my briefcase from the overhead locker after touchdown.

6 hours later, I discovered the iPad was elsewhere.  Numerous phone calls over the next couple of days finally yielded one iPad that answers to my descriptions; relief all round!  I was instructed to go to the airport to retrieve it but I must be armed with proof of identity.

Queen Alia International Airport is very new and well designed.  In spite of early teething problems, it has turned out to be a well run and secure terminal that handles a significant amount of traffic.  On the Ground Floor of the airport is the arrival concourse and along almost the entire perimeter of the concourse are outlets such as car rental windows, hotel desks, fast food outlets, banks, etc.  At the far end there are two windows about 50 meters apart, one is labelled Lost & Found and the other is Royal Jordanian Baggage Claims.  Having “lost” my iPad, my two companions and I naturally went to Lost & Found but it turned out that “Lost and Found” is for items that are lost then found outside of airplanes. While anything that goes missing from suitcases to toothpicks from the actual airplane, Royal Jordanian handles it separately.

So, off we went back to RJ Baggage Claims and I claimed my iPad.  There were about 12 RJ employees inside the office and we spoke to about 4 of them until they were satisfied that I was the rightful owner of the said iPad. I was asked to surrender my passport and they took a photocopy of it, they handed back my passport through a 1-inch clearance under the glass front and I waited for my beloved iPad to be pushed through in the same way as the passport.  But such a small and simple action as handing me the iPad they were satisfied was mine would not make an interesting story.

One of the nice people inside told me they have to issue me a “permit”; a permit to do what was not clear and I sagely nodded my agreement.  Issuing a permit took about 7 minutes to process and finally the young man who was preparing my “permit” suddenly appeared behind us on the outside.  He shook my hand and asked me to follow him.  Had I known the length and duration of our walk we were about to embark on, I might have ordered provisions for the journey ahead.  We walked the entire outer perimeter of the airport passed all the shops and kiosks and finally we got into a dead end, which was manned by a no-nonsense policeman who inspected the young man’s badge and my passport and newly acquired “permit”.  Satisfied that it was ok to be there, he punched a four-digit code, which he did not attempt to hide from us and let us through a door behind him.

We walked through security X-Ray machines, passed luggage and various heavy-duty items and finally entered into another area, which had a long office with a closed door and two windows.  We approached the window closest to us; the young man handed my “permit” and passport, together with his own ID Card, explaining why we were there.  The tough looking dude inside looked at him with disdain and told him to go to the other window, which we duly did.  The same process was repeated and this time, another tough looking dude, sitting on a desk 3 meters away from the first tough dude, accepted our paperwork and he busies himself with scribbling and enthusiastic stamping of what turned out to be another official looking piece of paper.  The young man asked the second tough looking dude where to go next, thus arousing my suspicion that I was in the company of a rookie.  The second tough looking dude told him in no uncertain terms that we must go back to the first window and hand the paperwork to the first tough looking dude and if we fail to do this, the first tough looking dude will be pretty pissed with us.  Not wishing to piss either of these tough dudes, we slithered back to the first window and did what we were told.  The paperwork was confiscated, including my passport and the young man’s ID Card, all of which were placed in pigeonhole number 36 and we were handed a security badge.  This special badge was given to me personally and we took a side door and into the arrival hall of the main airport where dozens of people were watching conveyor belts parading other people’s luggage except their own, thus delaying their reunion with friends and loved ones.

We walked for another eternity and went through a set of double doors only to find out that we were in the Royal Jordanian Luggage Claims Office but this time, I was on the INSIDE!

My iPad and I were reunited, we hugged for a while and then I was respectfully asked to sign the copy of my passport they took when I first arrived on the other side of the wall.  The young man now led me all the way back to the office with one door, two windows and two tough looking dudes, I handed my special badge and the unsmiling man swapped the badge with the contents of pigeonhole number 36, I took my passport and the young man took his ID Card and we walked back. Out to the public area.  We shook hands and I thanked him for his troubles.

My advice to you is in two parts: Firstly, for God’s sake look after your stuff!  Secondly, if you lose a high tech gadget such as an iPad or iPhone or X-Box or whatever, don’t bother claiming it because by the time you get it back, the technology will have moved on and the damn thing will be obsolete.

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