I shot this while transiting through Charles de Gaulle Airport near Paris, France, June 22, 2007.
by Wendy Perrin
You wonder why I love the blogosphere? It's the immediate and invaluable feedback. Example: I post a question about how to get a response from an airline that's totally ignoring you ("The Mystery of The Missing Miles"), and who should stop by to solve the problem ("Delta Reinstates Missing Miles!") but Mark Ashley of Upgrade: Travel Better? Another example: I post a question about AmEx Membership Rewards ("Surprise Fee For Redeeming Miles"), and who should swing by with the answer but frequent-flier expert Randy Petersen -- founder of THE essential tools for road warriors, WebFlyer and FlyerTalk -- followed by Gary Leff, who keeps all of us mileage junkies in the know with View From The Wing?
Clearly some very savvy travelers are reading The Perrin Post and generously offering their input. So I'm gonna take advantage of the wonderful resource that this presents and throw out one more travel problem that has me stumped. Can any of you with your ear to the ground shed some light on it?
My friend Sally and her husband Bob -- totally competent travelers and well-organized, upstanding people -- were flying Air France from Charles de Gaulle to Boston last week (Friday, July 13). They arrived at Air France check-in at 9:15 a.m. -- four hours before their flight -- and were shown to a boarding-pass machine by a female Air France employee. Bob inserted his passport into the machine (which scanned it), then filled out on the touch-screen the additional info requested (country of origin, address, date of birth, place of birth, etc.) Then came Sally's turn. While she punched in her info, two uniformed Air France aides hovered around, looking over her shoulder. After the process was completed, the machine spat out six documents that Bob and Sally collected: two boarding passes, two itinerary receipts, and two passenger manifest information sheets. Bob took his boarding pass, and an Air France aide rushed him to the luggage-check area. Another aide grabbed Sally's papers AND HER PASSPORT, and they rushed after Bob. Given that the flight was not until 1:15 p.m., and there were no lines, the Air France aides seemed to be rushing them unnecessarily.
The luggage-check guy had Sally put her suitcase on the conveyor belt, and the aide plunked Sally's papers down on the counter in front of him. Sally suddenly realized she did not have her passport in her hand, nor was it on the counter with the rest of the papers. No one but Air France employees had spoken to her or touched all those pieces of paper, and no other passengers were nearby. If the passport had been dropped, Sally says, an Air France employee would have noticed. "I can only conclude," she says, "that the Air France employees conspired in some fashion to distract us and take my passport. There was no place to lose it. I suspect the two women and the luggage check-in guy."