“We can’t export your found lost-luggage because it contains an artificial hand which requires the permission of the ministry of health.”
I’m starting with the punchline of our recent Egypt Air debacle. “Shall we retain the artificial hand and release your bag?”
We’d flown to Cairo and on to Hurghada, where only two of our bags made it. The lost case contained our stage props, including the gypsy costume you see in the photos. I wear a doll in a sling, which appears to be supported by what is actually a fake arm. The arm is sewn to the doll.
Apparently Egypt’s ministry of health was not concerned about exporting an artificial child.
The missing prop bag was still in Cairo, Egypt Air officials said, and would arrive on the next flight to Hurghada. So next morning, we made the hour-long trip back to the airport and—of course—no luggage.
Promises… delays…. Finally, the bag arrived in Hurghada. A driver was sent to pick it up. It took too long though. By then we were down to the wire. The driver, finally on his way back with the bag, gave his ETA as 20 minutes. But we were forced to move on. We could not wait. After all, we’d come to perform and the show must go on. Props or no props.
The suitcase was passed to DHL, who was to ship it to Dubai, the next stop on our Middle East tour.
“We need a detailed list of what the case contains,” DHL now requested. Our exhaustive reply included “Fake female arm with jewelry and sleeve (stage prop).”
DHL piddled around with lazy, ineffective emails and before they were ready to ship, we’d left Dubai, too. It was an unfunny comedy of errors, and we were beginning to wonder if we’d ever see our bag again. Instructions were revised: DHL must now ship the bag to the U.S.
We were already incredulous over this real-life display of inefficiency–and then the punchline came. We figure someone was fishing for baksheesh. “After inspection, we found item like artificial hand. We can’t export artificial hand.”
OMG! Seriously? Are we supposed to offer a bribe, or what? Was this extortion? Was Egypt accusing us of an illegal arms export?
I wrote back indignant: “This is NOT an artificial hand, it is a hollow PLASTIC PROP for our show!” I pointed out that the “fake female arm” was number 22 on the proforma invoice I had submitted, and attached a photo of myself with the artificial hand holding the artificial child.
And that was it. The bag showed up at our house the day after we returned home.
More lost luggage
But that’s not all. We flew home on Qatar Airways. We checked our three bags to our final U.S. destination. Upon landing in Houston, we claimed our three bags, took them through customs, and re-checked them for our US Airways flight. All three went missing!
Two days later, we had them back. So I’m not complaining. Just reporting an extreme travel farce. Travel is glamourous!