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What “Priority” Means To Air France
Apparently, not a fuck of a lot. They just stick it on your luggage when you fly business class, as we did, lucky us, so you have some false sense that somebody gives a shit about what happens to your luggage vis a vis all the people unlucky enough to fly cattle class.


Now, not only am I not a girl who leaves the house in typical Los Angeles attire (an outfit perfect for cleaning out the garage or picking lettuce), I am a girl who, about once a week, wears an fishtail taffeta evening dress skirt to pick up the dog at the groomer or to write at a coffee shop. Going on crash glamour diet -- in other words, wearing the same clothes on Saturday that I was wearing when I got on the Air France jet Tuesday night in Los Angeles -- is definitely not my thing.

After we flew out from Los Angeles, we had a night in Paris before getting on the plane to Bologne, but we had nothing but our carry-on bags in France, as some genius at the airline checked our bags through to Bologne, an hour-and-a-half car ride from Mantua, where we arrived Thursday. My bag apparently stamped its little wheeled feet and refused to get on the plane (either that or some lazy asshat at Air France/Charles de Gaulle didn’t check the tag and forward it to my final destination).

Here’s the beautiful little street where our hotel is located, and where my bag was repeatedly not delivered (and thanks, Air France, for not calling and not calling and not calling to let me know it wouldn’t be delivered when you said it would be, and said it would be, get the idea).


Making matters worse, I’m not exactly camping in Italy (not that I camp at all). I’m attending the Festivaletteratura, accompanying Gregg who is accompanying Elmore Leonard, who just did his session with wildman Italian Journalisto Paolo Zaccagnini.


Making matters even worse, the Air Francies keep telling me and telling me my luggage is with the courier and will be delivered. Problem is, we leave for Paris tomorrow morning, and I have zero confidence it will actually get here before we leave. Marella, who’s running the festival, and is just wonderful, offered to send a courier to the airport or to the courier who supposedly have it, to pick it up. No dice. The people on the “customer service” line at Air France (and I use that term VERY LOOSELY) say they do not have the name or number of the courier service and simply send an intranet message to the people in baggage services at the airport who deal with it. Luckily, when I got out of college, I produced commercials for Ogilvy & Mather in New York, and I know to get the number of such people in advance lest such issues arise. Unfortunately, it seems such people -- in this case, a woman named Natasha in Air France baggage services at the airport -- know better than to answer their fucking telephone. Ever, it seems.

Note to Natasha: It is my sincerest wish that you travel to America, and lose your luggage in Cleveland, with all your best clothes in it, and are thus forced to attend some important event in your underwear (which you’ve been wearing for five days straight [not to worry, they have underwear stores in Mantua, and I’ve been a repeat customer]). Anyway, I’m envisioning numerous promises being made that your luggage will be returned to you, causing you to trek across town on foot, missing the events you were in town to attend, and then, at the end, you will return home and the courier company will throw your luggage in the Cuyahoga River, which Gregg always reminds me once caught fire, and then I will happen to be traveling through Cleveland at that very moment, and happen, for no reason whatsoever, to light a match and throw it in the river, reducing your dearest belongings to a tiny pile of soggy ash.

Meanwhile, in case you Advice Goddess Blog readers are holding your breath wondering how I’ve been making out on my glamour diet, the first night, I tried to be a sport about it and bought a clean eggplant-colored tee-shirt at Benetton. Luckily, I do not travel looking like I’m on my way to gym or the bed -- although, in anticipation of situations like this, my airplane pants are made out of recycled plastic milk bottles or something, and look none the worse for wear. Because Gregg got his luggage, including all his fresh-from-the-Detroit dry cleaner’s shirts, I’ve improvised a little fashion today out of an XL Geoffrey Beene number I nicked from him.


I’m going shopping again this afternoon with Elmore's son Peter, because I am most certainly NOT wearing the same clothes I’ve been wearing since Tuesday evening, plus my boyfriend’s shirt, to the banquet tonight. Air France, expect a skirt and shirt or a dress on your bill, thanks. Plus some new underwear, to say the least.

There is one bright spot on the horizon. Well, on my ears, actually. Yesterday afternoon, not feeling quite my self (on a typical day I go through clothing changes like Cher, along with generally favoring a look that’s a little more glam) I bought a pair of giant jeweled earrings, which do glitter things up -- at least to the point where I look in the mirror and recognize myself. Phew!


Posted by aalkon at September 8, 2007 6:33 AM


Amy, so sorry you're going through all that, what a pain in the ass! On the other hand, love the earrings, they're beauteous! o_O

Posted by: Flynne at September 8, 2007 8:01 AM

Thanks, Flynne. In wonderful news, Air France has delivered my bags. Lucky them that I didn't find buttloads of clothing to buy (all I got was a safety pin so I could keep Gregg's shirt together in the back while still being able to eat and breathe). Going back to the hotel now to dress up as myself.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 8, 2007 9:12 AM

Three things that make me feel young because they haven't happened but must someday:

1. Lost luggage
2. Audit
3. Death

Posted by: Crid at September 8, 2007 11:45 AM

At least there's no chance of you losing your favorite slinky dresses from any of those. Unless, of course, there's something you're not telling us!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 8, 2007 11:56 AM

Here's a free travel tip for any who can afford it:
Send critical items to your hotel via tracked overnight service like fedex.
There's less chance of things getting "lost." Less hassle with the fine folks at TSA and better customer service in the event of a screw-up.
I used to send my tools that way when I traveled for work and as long as the boss was paying, I'd pack in a few personal items as well. If my suitcase made a side trip, I could still function until it showed up.

Posted by: martin at September 8, 2007 12:52 PM

My luggage was once sent to China. Guess people didnt know the diffrence between Japan and China.

Posted by: PurplePen at September 8, 2007 4:11 PM

Offtopic, more fun with Larry Craig:

Posted by: Crid at September 8, 2007 4:20 PM

Sorry....Natasha's bag wouldn't burn the Cuyahoga river. We've cleaned it up since then...but it did start on fire once upon a time...along with the mayor's hair. I head to Paris on Wednesday on Continental so hopefully the luggage won't get lost. I enjoy your column!! And you look great in the Geoffrey Bean shirt!!

Posted by: Gail at September 8, 2007 6:08 PM

Hey, LYT! You out there?

Posted by: Crid at September 9, 2007 11:05 AM

Not that I'm not glad you finally got your luggage, but I was smelling the makings for a great crime story. . .Sexy débutante traveling with a famous crime fiction writer (one of my very favorites) goes on a murderous rampage with Air France. In a twist, it turns out to have been a conspiracy perpetuated by a dissatisfied advice seeker with connections in the French baggage handlers union. In the end, said sexy débutante is saved by her heroic boyfriend and escapes to exile in Belize, while the perpetrator of the plot is strangled by the husband of one of the Air France ticket clerks caught in the murderous rampage and the crime fiction writer, writes a book about it all.

Posted by: DuWayne at September 9, 2007 5:45 PM

I'm liking it, I'm liking it. Although I'd rather live part-time in Paris, thanks!

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 9, 2007 5:56 PM

Before you set fire to luggage and rivers in Cleveland, gimme a ring and I'll motor up from Columbus. I always appreciate watching a good Flambé.

Posted by: Jamie at September 10, 2007 7:21 AM

Love the improvised outfit -- you still managed to make it look fab. Love the earrings especially.

Would you mind telling me where you purchased the pants? I refuse to travel in dressed down clothes, but it's also difficult to find something comfortable enough for the flights...those look like the perfect compromise between style and comfort.

Posted by: Angela at September 10, 2007 10:20 AM

Merci, Angela. And believe it or not, I bought the pants at the Limited Express in the 80s. You can find them on eBay, though. Look for Express funnel leg in the category of pants. They're INDESTRUCTIBLE, although I suppose you could melt them. And if you're tall, they come in long. I wear a Small/Long to give you a sense of how they're sized.

I also travel in a black cashmere turtleneck, with a black tee shirt underneath, and a black boiled cashmere big jacket on top, plus a hot pink pashmina and cashmere socks. It gets cold on dem dere planes.

Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 10, 2007 11:22 AM

Thanks, Amy. I will check ebay for them. I too try to travel in mostly black, with it bit of color (I usually bring my soft pink pashmina from Nordstrom...that thing has been everywhere with me!)

Posted by: Angela at September 10, 2007 11:40 AM

Actually, you look fantastic.

In fact, I'm having a fantasy right now. =)

Posted by: Melissa G at September 11, 2007 6:02 PM


Posted by: Amy Alkon at September 11, 2007 11:29 PM

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