I arrived in Cape Town after a long 22 hour flight with three stopovers. From Manila, I flew for two hours to Hong Kong, and then took an overnight 10-hour flight to Addis Ababa in Ethipoia, and then another five and a half hour flight to Johannesburg, before taking the last two hour flight to Cape Town.
I arrived in Cape Town around five in the afternoon surprisingly with a lot of energy as I was able to sleep during the flights. Excitement was the word to describe my emotions before coming and I already had tons of new experiences during the long journey. When I checked in for my flight in Hong Kong, the airline personnel told me that I would see my luggage in Cape Town.
She then printed the luggage tag which proves that I am the legit owner of the bag which I will pick up in Cape Town. Everything was smooth until I arrived in Addis Ababa to catch my connecting flight to Johannesburg. After deplaning from my Hong Kong flight, I proceeded to the transfer area where I need not to clear immigration since I am only a connecting passenger. However, the airline personnel at the boarding gate interrogated me like an immigration officer.
She asked where I’m going and what will I do in South Africa. She flipped the pages of my passport and saw my South African visa. She noticed that I am only allowed to stay for 15 days. She then asked me for my returning flight. I handed it which showed that I will leave eight days later. She was not convinced yet and asked if I have enough money during my stay.
I told her I don’t have cash as I only bring my credit and debit cards. I handed everything to her and was convinced that I’m a legitimate tourist. I find it odd since I wasn’t even asked the same level of scrutiny in Hong Kong but then interrogated thoroughly in Ethiopia and she wasn’t even an immigration officer. Well, I think there are many Africans going to South Africa posing as tourists and end up working illegally but that’s another story.
I arrived in Johannesburg in one piece and excited that I’m about to board the last leg of my journey. I cleared through the immigration without sweat and feeling vindicated thinking that the airline personnel in Ethiopia is just too paranoid. That’s over and I have to move forward. Going back to my checked in luggage, I didn’t pick it up in Johannesburg despite having thoughts of getting it from the carousel after clearing the immigration. I saw the carousel with bags going around but didn’t bother as I remember the words of the airline personnel in Hong Kong that I will be reunited with my bag in Cape Town.
And so I immediately proceeded to the domestic departures. As soon as I enter the departures hall, a black guy approached me and asked me for my ticket. I was so exhausted that I handed it to him without even thinking. Then as we were walking towards the check-in counters, my thoughts told me that this guy is a scammer but then he had my ticket. I asked him to give it back to me but he wouldn’t. Fortunately, I didn’t hand him my passport.
I raised my voice and he handed it back. Now I’m running out of time for my connecting flight. I cannot miss my flight and afford to spend a few hundred dollars for a new ticket. The domestic departures of Johannesburg is confusing and I walked around several times before locating my check-in counter. The guy was really a scammer as he brought me far away from my check-in counter. I don’t know how he can operate inside the airport without the authorities noticing his presence.
Okay, that was over. Now I’m in front of the check-in personnel. I told her that I have a checked in luggage from Hong Kong and was told that I will get it in Cape Town. She affirmed it and gave me a new luggage tag. I was relieved, for now.
There was only 30 minutes left before boarding when I arrived at the boarding gate. The thoughts of being scammed 30 minutes earlier was a horror. I thanked God for guiding me and allowing me to get back my senses in time before he consummated his scam.
The sun was setting when I arrived in Cape Town. My friend Kevin was waiting for me at the arrivals hall. I gave him my flight details and so he knew my plane already arrived. My senses proved to be true when I discovered that my bag didn’t fly with me to Cape Town. I waited for the carousel to spit my bag from the hole underground but it didn’t. One passenger at a time leaves to pick his luggage but mine never came.
I proceeded to the information counter and filed my concern. I told the lady that I was informed in Hong Kong and reaffirmed in Johannesburg that I will be reuinted with my bag in Cape Town. The lady said without a hitch that they both lied to me. She said airline personnel always do that. The lady said that passengers should claim their bags after entering their port of entry, in my case, Johannesburg. Then re-checked in for the onward domestic flight.
The lady was so helpful and asked me for my boarding passes for the entire journey. I filled up a short form, asked about the physical appearance of my bag to which I have a picture in my phone. She gave me her contact number and was told to follow up the next day. I was assured that I will be reunited with my bag soon.
At least 30 minutes have passed and I was worried that Kevin already left the airport. I emerged from the arrival hall and saw my friend. I felt relief and told him what caused the delay. It was surreal that I arrived in Cape Town. My bag followed the next day.