With all this talk about lost bags it reminded me about a rather more disturbing bit of airline ineptitude. Airlines frequently fly coffins, usually when someone is going to their home country for burial. Sometimes people die when they are abroad and then the body is flown home. Some years ago a family were on holiday in Portugal when the husband sadly died and the coffin was flown home onboard the same plane as his family. When the widow and her children had cleared Customs and Immigration at Gatwick they were taken to the freight shed where a hearse had been arranged to pick up the coffin.
When the family arrived at the warehouse the hearse was there, but unfortunately no coffin. All the freight had been brought into the warehouse from the aircraft but there was absolutely no sign of the coffin. The family were naturally distraught and could not understand how a coffin had just disappeared…nor for that matter could anyone else. Senior managers were dispatched to the freight shed to deal with the situation and promised a thorough investigation. Most important of all they said that they would find the coffin.
Naturally blame fell on the Portuguese loading staff. They had obviously failed to load the coffin or worse still put it on the wrong flight – but to who knows where? Eventually after 48 hours it turned up in Caracas in Venezuela, and the Portuguese were totally innocent. It had been loaded on the aircraft in Lisbon but no one had thought to unload it in London. The coffin had remained on board and gone with the aircraft on its next flight from London to the Venezuelan capital.