Baggage About Baggage
By Torleif Sorenson on 7/31/14
Airport personnel have awfully tough jobs — baggage handlers especially. They work in extremely noisy and stressful environments, even setting weather aside. But in extreme heat, cold, rain, or wind, it must be gobsmackingly depressing — to the point that they don't care what happens to the property entrusted to them.

Karen Crouse contributed a story to the New York Times about the hazards of travel (international travel, especially) with golf clubs. At the top of the story, she recounted Gary Woodland's journey from Kansas City International Airport to the Open Championship in England earlier this month. At KCI, Woodland saw a baggage handler drop his golf bag right on the tarmac, then fling a suitcase on top of the bag. What is somewhat ironic is that in 2008, U.S. News & World Report actually ranked KCI the "third least miserable airport" among the 47 busiest in the U.S. Of course, when Woodland arrived at Manchester Airport after "an excruciatingly tight connection" in Chicago, Woodland's clubs and bags were nowhere to be found.

Woodland showed remarkable restraint when he said, "Seeing them throw the bags around and then them not showing up, it was definitely a little more stressful than it needed to be."

Perversely, 1989 Open Champion Mark Calcavecchia had the opposite problem when he tried to get to the 2014 Open from California.

If you have traveled by air, you know that lost and mis-routed luggage can seriously affect life at your destination, as well as destroy vacation plans. But as Crouse noted in her article, this airline industry report says that United States-based carriers have fewer mishandled pieces of baggage than their European counterparts do.

London Heathrow Airport has an especially poor reputation among pro golfers and their caddies. According to Crouse, Hunter Mahan's caddie, John Wood, has written off Heathrow as "the Bermuda Triangle for bags." In 2009, Mahan flew through Heathrow for the Open Championship at Turnberry, arriving on a Monday, but his bags failed to appear until late Wednesday. Because Ping had an equipment trailer at the Open, Mahan was able to have a set of clubs custom-made for him in time for the tournament. As it happened, Mahan still missed the cut.

This is precisely why Woodland flew through Manchester this year, instead of Heathrow — but he was still punished for his efforts.

Crouse also included the story of Henrik Stenson, who in July also flew to Heathrow from Copenhagen. Stenson's clubs made it, but astoundingly, they managed to lose his clothes bag.

"Heathrow's a dangerous place," according to the talented Swede, who also recommends avoiding Charles de Gaulle Airport outside Paris.

But we, the proverbial "proletariat" of the golf world, do not have that luxury. Aside from trusting a chosen air carrier, our only other options are renting clubs at the destination, or taking your clubs to services like FedEx and

When your humble correspondent last traveled by air in September of 2012, my clubs and clothes made it successfully from Minneapolis to Chicago-Midway to Jackson and back. But you can image how unimpressed I was when I beheld an airline "Appearance Tech" truck at Midway that didn't have an attractive appearance of its own:

Oobers, please pipe in with your own experiences — good or bad.

Read more

The Baggage Report 2014

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Images via Wikipedia and Torleif Sorenson

[ comments ]
srogers13 says:
Not a golf story, but I just saw a story the other day about a guy trying to qualify for the Olympics in shooting had his rifles destroyed by Southwest Airlines. And he said they were wrapped in bubble wrap, packed in foam inside a hard shelled case.
Torleif Sorenson says:
srogers13, thanks for mentioning that! If my son does, indeed, decide to get involved in biathlon, I will try like heck to avoid Southwest Airlines to transport his gear if he gets to go to any out-of-state events.
Bernie Duffer says:
Golf vacation, Palm Springs, CA. Flight from East Coast to LA, then commuter jet from LA to Palm Springs. Reverse for flights home. Both golf bags were "lost," in both directions. The golf bags were delivered to our hotel one day late. The golf bags were delivered to our home one day late.
Bernie Duffer says:
On the other hand, vacation in Hawaii. Flight to LA, flight from LA to Hawaii, commuter jet flights to the various islands. The golfs bags arrived with us every time, in both directions.
joe jones says:
On a trip to Brownsville, Tx years ago my clubs went to Corpus Christie. The airline bused them to me overnight and I had them in time for the next day.
dottomm says:
ship Stick. Love 'em.
srogers13 says:

The article for what I referenced before.
falcon50driver says:
I haven't flown commercial with guns in a while, but in the past, I would walk up to the ticket counter, show the agent that the guns were unloaded, lock the case with a lock on each side of the pelican case, and check the baggage. Never had a problem in at least a dozen trips. A gun can't be damaged in a pelican case unless something like a bulldozer or a tracked vehicle like a tank runs over it. Sounds like it was broken into by anti gun zealots.
madmx99 says:
Last trip to Vegas, when got home, every club was rearranged in the bag. Later figured out that someone changed the settings on the Titleist 3 wood. I guess they must have a net set up in the back room for testing clubs; the "new" set up for the 3 wood didn't work for me.
Kurt the Knife says:
OAK to OGG several times. Soft case similar to BagBoy t-600 with a Stiff-Arm insert.
Never had a problem. though, I don't have to change planes or anything so handling is a minimum.
Kurt the Knife says:
Domestically, FedEx has looked attractive to me. But I typically only travel to the islands. if I ever make the World-Am, I'll try it.
[ post comment ]
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