Airline Stories, continued …

It was back in the days right after the demise of communism and the advent of the “new” Russia, and I was schedule for a flight from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

In those days throughout the Eastern Bloc, domestic flights were from different airports than international air traffic, and the Moscow domestic airport was reminiscent of a Greyhound bus station in an American inner-city …grimy, dirty, horrible sanitation, with all sorts of sleazy characters hanging out.  And nothing was computerized.  Flight manifests, passenger lists, and reservations were all done manually.

As we were checking in for the flight – which meant having our names crossed off of a list – I had a large bag that needed to be checked through.  As the porter was taking the bag away from the counter, I noticed to my horror the bright red tag that had been attached to it read: “CALCUTTA.”

I dove for the bag, saying “Nyet, Nyet, Nyet!  Sankt Petersburg!”  Nyet, Calcutta!”

He shrugged his shoulders, and responded in broken English, “Sorry, sir.  All we have today.” When I arrived in St. Petersburg, the bag was there.  Go figure.

That tag still sits in my desk drawer, a visual reminder that no matter how crummy it gets on most of the airlines in the present day, not much can compare with the residue of Karl Marx’s influence on aviation.

Leave a Reply