During the period since my last work trip I have spent quite a few hours trying to establish
(a) if it is true that my organisation do not have insurance to cover loss of luggage by international staff (it is)
(b) what I am supposed to do, in that case, if my luggage goes missing (claim against the airline/any personal policies)
(c) what if Air Ivoire/Air Burkina/Slok Air choose not to reimburse me, or if my luggage is stolen from say the back of a taxi (prevail upon the mercy of our HR department)
(d) whether our HR department will pay up (possibly but generally not)
(e) if I can buy a personal policy from any of the UK insurers (no, because I am not UK resident)
Such insurance seems unknown in Senegal, so I set off for the airport this morning clutching my luggage a little more tightly than usual.
At check-in I was asked if I really wanted to be checked through to Douala (Cameroon), or whether I wouldn't prefer to collect my luggage from Air Senegal in Abidjan and then check in again there for the onward leg to Douala with Air Ivoire, as I was less likely to have problems with my luggage this way. Of course I accepted her advice and checked myself through only as far as Abidjan.
So in Abidjan I went to collect my case, ready to go and check in again, and watched the luggage go round and round the carousel. You know how it is, that you eventually just know that your luggage isn't coming? Well it was only at that stage that I took a proper look at the little luggage tag they had stuck to my ticket, and noticed that it said V7 720; I had been on flight V7 740.
Well it turned out that V7 720 was the flight to Guinea Conakry. Of all places. Last time I went there I opened my case when I got to the hotel to find it had already been opened and rifled through en route, though thankfully on that occasion nothing was missing.
So I have filled in all the necessary forms (I now know the French for purple...) and have been told that it should at some stage be forwarded to Douala. I hope so, as I don't want to find out whether or not Air Senegal, or HR, will reimburse me for the loss (I think I already know the answer). Unfortunately however tomorrow morning I am due to leave Douala for the hill town of Bamenda, six hours drive to the north. Colleagues have told me that it is wet and cold at this time of year, so I had packed jumpers, a fleece and a kagool - all now presumably sitting in Conakry. I also need to wash my hair, and clean my teeth, and would rather like to be able to use deodorant tomorrow morning.
I will keep you posted as to whether it arrives, and when.