If you think the normal logistics of retrieving your bag from the baggage claim madness is not too much of a challenge, take your chances with a little game of baggage claim roulette in Santiago, Dominican Republic.
I arrived into Santiago last week for eight days of consulting for a service organization that builds houses and provides medical clinics for people in the rural villages of Luperon. I got to experience baggage claim roulette first hand.
The three baggage carousels of this airport are spaced a good 45 feet apart in a triangle configuration. Beautiful flat screen televisions are mounted on the pillars above each of the separate carousels. However, on this day, those televisions appeared to serve no purpose. The blank screens provided no information.
All three conveyor belts were pumping out luggage as the mass of incoming travelers spilled into the baggage claim area. I watched the confusion creep across the faces of each person trying to decipher which carousel contained the bags from their flight. I took about five steps back and stood in the middle of this triangle to observe the chaos.
The game was on. Each traveler paced back and forth between the three belts trying to guess which carousel would hold their belongings. People surveyed the passing luggage to gain clues and studied the other travelers to try to identify other members from their incoming flight who had figured out the puzzle. All the while, heads frantically swiveled back and forth and bodies dodged one another as they trotted the triangular path.
Amazingly, I don’t believe any bags were lost in this Bermuda Triangle, but it sure made for an interesting arrival!
Step back from the baggage claim and place your bets.
Jason Barger is author of Step Back from the Baggage Claim: Change the World, Start at the Airport.