Friday, 15 March 2019

What do you mean you left your passport on the plane!

We are in Egypt. After two weeks exploring Cairo, Alexandria and the Pyramids of Giza, Luxor is our final stop together - click the links to read my posts on each destination. David and I are to join a dahabiya (sailing boat) for a Nile River cruise to Aswan while Andrew, our son, heads home to Australia.

Andrew has already left the hotel. He has an early flight to Cairo where he will connect with another flight to Dubai and then, after an overnight stop, fly home to Sydney. David and I have just been collected from the hotel for the hour and a half's drive to Esna where we will join the dahabiya. The other cruise guests are coming from hotels on the opposite bank of the Nile River so we have the mini-bus to ourselves - just me, David, our driver and a guide.

Andrew is 26 years old, has a job where he is often called upon to handle stressful situations, and is more capable of looking after himself than I am, but I am a mother and mothers never stop worrying. As we pull away from the hotel I receive a text from him. I don't have my reading glasses on but I can still read the text.

It ought to say,
'I have landed safely in Cairo and am about to check in for my flight to Dubai.' 
Instead it says,
'I left my backpack on the plane!
OMG! Where is his passport? Is it in the backpack - where else would it be!

I reply in full panic mode,
'Where is your passport? Do you have your passport?'  
Andrew comes back with,
And then, as if I am not about to have a seizure, he adds a SMILEY FACE!

David grabs the phone and the texts go back and forth in ever increasing panic and frustration without David ever seeing the original message  - it has scrolled off the screen. I try deep breathing and remind myself that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING we can do. We are about to join a cruise, we may lose our mobile phone reception at any second, and there are more than 600 kilometres of desert between us and our son.  To add to the stress, Andrew has a tight connection and his flight to Dubai leaves from a different terminal. Cairo airport is huge and confusing. There simply isn't time to retrieve the backpack and still make his connection. In any event I know from long experience that trying to recover something you have left on a plane is an almost impossible task.

I tell myself  that Andrew is an adult, a very capable adult and he will just have to deal with the situation himself. He can stay in Cairo, somehow get to the Australian Embassy, apply for an emergency passport and book a new flight home. Where is his wallet? Is his wallet in the backpack with his passport? Where else would it be! How can he get to the Australian Embassy or book into a hotel without any money?

More frantic texting!

Andrew doesn't seem to be grasping the gravity of his predicament. Lose your passport and you can't leave the country - it is as simple as that. He just doesn't seem worried enough. Finally, exhausted, David hands me back the phone. Now I have my reading glasses on and something tells me to scroll back through the texts - mother's intuition perhaps.

The first text now reads,
'I left my black hat on the plane!'
No wonder it was only an 'Ooooopps!' Do I feel like an idiot - no just a mother!

Have you ever lost your passport, wallet or handbag while travelling? How did you deal with the loss - total panic like me, or something more practical?


Andrew is safely in Dubai. We are on our cruise. The mobile phone reception is better than we expected. There is even wifi - of sorts. Andrew has one night in Dubai and then flies out late (10 pm) the next day. We suggested he ask for a late check-out so he doesn't have to hang around the airport for too many hours. It is 4 pm and he has just tried to check-in on-line for his Sydney flight before leaving the hotel. We receive a text.
'My flight is tomorrow'
What! How could that happen?

When our trip was planned almost a year ago Andrew intended to stay two nights in Dubai, but by the time David booked his hotel, only a couple of weeks ago, we had all forgotten the extra day.

My capable 26 year old son has already done the leg work by the time he sends us his text. He could stay another night at the same hotel or change the flight for 500 AUD (350 USD). He opts to change his flight.
'We'll pay!'
What are parents for if not to pick up the bill when things go wrong!

Andrew - being Andrew at the Egyptian Museum

Read our other blog posts on Egypt

My tip: Do not leave your passport on a plane. If however you do, then the official word on what to do comes from

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  1. Hmm, I am so glad I don't need glasses to read my phone (yet). It is so comforting when you realise that your kids are adults and they can easily deal with these hiccups. I probably would have viewed the extra day in Dubai as an opportunity to see more and stayed.

    1. That was the original plan - for Andrew to have a day to look around but after hanging around all day for a late flight the first day he had lost enthusiasm for doing a second day. As it turned out he came done with a virus the day he got home and was sick for a couple of weeks so not being in Dubai an extra day was probably a good thing

  2. This was hilarious reading. Mostly because I know the feeling. Luckily, not the passport loss (fingers crossed, that never happened and, hopefully, would never happen), but the mix up with dates. Yep, a few years back in Malaysia, while happily planning my next day outing, I suddenly realized that my flight was in just a few hours. That was certainly a big Oops moment. Cheers!

    1. David is usually pretty good with getting our bookings right but this was the second time in a couple of years he had mucked up a flight. The first time he failed to allow for the fact that we would cross the international date line and he booked an onward flight to Lima which left a day before we arrived. We had no choice but to throw the tickets away and start again. It wasn't the end of the world though. I hope your Malaysian muck up didn't cause you too much grief.

  3. Wow. Traveling can get a bit hectic sometimes Lyn. I am only here for 2 days but the connection at the hotel here in Thailand is so poor that I need to work from the lobby. 99 degrees now and Chiang Mai is the most polluted city on earth for a week; burning season. Outdoor lobby too LOL....traveling!

    1. I have read about the burning season - as if the world didn't need more pollution. Good luck with the heat.

  4. As the mom of three kids - who are now grown adults - I have felt your panic before. And I have felt the same panic over my own situation and also, for my husband. On our trip to Australia in December my daughter brought her father his jacket from the hotel and his brand new glasses fell out and were lost. In trying to gather work items for a trip to Korea he left his passport at home - luckily the trip was to the airport that is closer to our house so it was an (somewhat) easy fix. He also left his phone on a rental car shuttle bus. Thanks to the driver, we were able to recover it - what are the chances? He gets way more incensed at himself than if I were angry at him so it doesn't do me any good to yell. Luckily, it was Andrew's hat and not passport!

    1. Andrew is one of the calmest people on the planet. Had it been his passport I am sure he would have coped - not sure I could say the same for myself if it was my passport. I think these near misses get worse as you get older and learn from bitter experience how many things can go wrong and how awful it is when they do.

  5. Ha! I love this post. That's exactly my brain in action too! Ha!

  6. This is so entertaining Lyn. I laughed out loud upon learning it was all a communication issue. I have left my passport on a shuttle bus in Slovenia. My hands still sweat at the thought of it. Thankfully it was returned to me quite quickly. Definitely my lucky day!

    1. I once left my handbag with my passport and David's at the security screening at the airport. We were about to board the plane when I realised it was missing. Luckily I got it back. It was our first trip together and I have been ultra careful ever since. I'm pleased you also got your passport back.

  7. We were almost an hour onto the bus trip to Tehran when the bus conductor brought a phone to us. It was the hotel receptionist who had our passports. An interesting experience which I've written about on Travel with Joanne. Ended well.

    1. OMG I think I would have melted down. I am glad it ended well.