Packing: A lesson learned the hard way

I scheduled my flight from Midway with a transfer in Nashville before continuing on to Virginia Beach.  Security was easy and I got to my gate by noon.  That was the last thing that went right for the next twelve hours.

As soon as I got to my gate, it started to snow.  My flight was delayed and I was going to miss my connecting flight, so I talked to the ticket agent and switched to a direct flight six hours later.  Then the real bomb dropped: the ticket agent told me that the route for my checked bag couldn’t be changed.  My fencing bag, whites, shoes, ankle braces, weapons, and all, would have to take its chances with the doomed Nashville route.

I’m left-handed and I don’t know many people who are, so borrowing most items is tricky.  I texted my friends in Virginia to outsource shopping for whatever items didn’t need to be sized and tried not to worry until takeoff.

Sure enough, when my flight finally arrived in Norfolk, my bag was nowhere to be found.  My options were: replace the whites at a great deal of unplanned-for expense, or cap expenses for the weekend and not fence.  A rational person might have thought of the sunk cost fallacy and taken the latter option, but I am certainly not a rational person when it comes to making choices about fencing. Instead, I blew my equipment budget for 2014 in one day.

I’m skipping my lessons for the next few weeks and I’m reffing an NCAA event at Northwestern in February to make up most of the shortfall.  I’m just glad I didn’t replace my mask in December like I had considered doing – to buy two masks in two months might have been too much to bear!

This all happened because I tend to believe I am an inherently lucky person and ignored the advice of pretty much everybody, so I’m going to change my ways and throw my voice in the chorus with theirs.  If you fly often enough, sooner or later something will go wrong, and the time that you are spending enough to buy a plane ticket is never a time that you don’t care if something goes wrong.

Learn from my mistakes and never, ever, ever check your whites with your weapons when you fly.  Unless you’re looking for an excuse to spend a great deal of money more than you need to, all your equipment except your weapons flies in your carry-on from this day forward.

Thanks again to the folks who lent me shoes, knickers, body cords, a spare weapon, and moral support.  I am grateful that our fencing community is so supportive of one another!


6 thoughts on “Packing: A lesson learned the hard way”

  1. This is good advice. Even direct flights can go wrong and your bag can end up in Singapore (as a friend of mine’s did) when you really wanted it to stop in LA.

    Another trick that a friend of mine use to practice: If you’re traveling with teammates, split your weapons between two bags (you carry one or two of hers, and she carries one or two of yours). If only one of the bags shows, at least each of you have one or two familiar weapons to start the day with.

  2. I spent a week in Bulgaria for Vet Worlds without my bag, but because I carried on everything except the sabres, all I had to buy was sabres.

    Of course, I’m dimwitted and didn’t notice that PbT had put together one of the sabres I bought with a left-handed guard . . .

    The fencing bag arrived the night before I went home.

  3. Allen’s advice is great. Depending on the grips you use, I also recommend to carry on one grip. The ones I usually use are not available in the U.S. so this would save me a bit of headache if my bag is lost.

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