I would not necessarily label it a rookie mistake, but I arrived back in Frankfurt from Kiev this afternoon to find my well-wrapped and padded bottle of red wine shattered and all over my blue jeans in my checked bag.
Thankfully this was not a rare bottle of Ukrainian wine, but it was a very nice bottle of Italian red wine that had been waiting for me in my room at the Hyatt Regency in Kiev—a bottle that retails for about EU20. I had planned to use it as part of a wedding gift next month, but will now have to look into alternate arrangements.
I suppose I could blame that idiot Abdulla Ahmed Ali, the “liquid bomber” whose vision to blow up multiple aircraft using liquids in 2006 led to the ridiculous liquid ban in hand baggage throughout much of the western world, but I am ultimately to blame for not protecting the bottle well enough.
I wrapped it tightly in a hotel laundry bag, then wrapped my jeans around the bag—that has always been enough in the past, but not this time. To add insult to injury, the broken glass from the bottle ripped a hole in the laundry bag, so the wine seeped out and covered the entire bottom of my bag. I guess I should be thankful that the breakage seemed to happen at Frankfurt—if it had happened in Kiev I bet I would have found the wine all over my bag.
I needed something to transport my items in (because sloshing them around in a bag full of red wine did not seem like such a good idea), so I stopped by the Lufthansa baggage claim office to see if they could help. The agent was a humorous type and seemed to get a charge out of lecturing me for placing a bottle of wine in my checked bag in the first place. He was good-natured, but a little weird—encouraging me to drink up the wine rather than let it go to waste. Too late—I had already deposited it in a garbage can. He fetched me a “Lufthansa Baggage Box” that I transferred my effects to for the journey home. The carry-on bag (my new bag courtesy of Lufthansa) is now drying on the patio, though I know it will be very difficult to get the red wine smell out.
So how can I prevent this in the future? One way would be to drink the wine rather than transport it, which I will often do, but the Regency Club at this particular Hyatt was very nice and offered an extensive variety of adult beverages. I suppose I could leave the wine behind, but I think that would be rude and this was a nice bottle—I smell it now from my crumpled up jeans on the other side of my bedroom.
No, next time I need to transport wine in my checked bag I will not just double wrap it, but quadruple wrap it. That may not be enough for some baggage handlers, but people transport wine all the time in their bags—I just need to be a little more careful while I wait out the expiration of the liquid ban (coming soon in the EU...hopefully).