We’ve all had to tell a disconsolate child that his or her bag was the one chosen to go to lost luggage heaven. The experience can be painful, especially when the child blubbers, “Why couldn’t Daddy go instead?”
But using lost luggage heaven as a way of softening a child’s grief when their bag fails to come off the carousel only works until the child is old enough to start asking probing questions. Such as, “If it’s such a good place, why are those other people whose bags went there using so many bad words?”
That’s when it’s time to begin explaining lost luggage insurance.
Often, a good way to start is: “You know how you get presents from Santa?”
Then remind your kids how Santa cannot always bring them everything they want, because the elves have switched the tags around, or even taken all the good stuff out for themselves. And remind them, too, that to make up for your disappointment Santa sometimes leaves gift certificates.
Most kids are quick to grasp that lost luggage insurance works the same way. Except that instead of gift certificates you get an insurance settlement, which is usually about 15 percent of what you think it should be.
Eventually, of course, your child is likely to come right out and ask you directly if lost luggage heaven is a real place. To which as a parent it is your responsibility to answer, briefly but honestly, “Only if you count the overhead bins.”
Some children, though, will remain unconvinced, and will want to know only, “Is there a bad place luggage goes, too?”
That’s when its time to begin explaining Newark.
When travel humor writer Bob Payne is not serving as editor in chief of BobCarriesOn.com, he works as a grief counselor in the baggage services division of a major U.S. airline.