The Battle for Luggage Carts

Luis Miguel de la Bahia

Foto: Caridad

HAVANA TIMES — Landing at Havana’s Jose Marti Airport after a 10 hour flight, we found ourselves in a situation that would be unthinkable in any other airport I’ve visited: There were hardly any luggage carts.

A line immediately formed to collect the few they did provide, making people wait 10 to 15 minutes for each newly freed one.

We complained to every official possible, but the responses were all the same: “Sorry, I don’t have anything to do with that.” When we finally did find the person in charge, he said that he couldn’t do anything about it either.

No one conceived of an airport that didn’t address such problems and where the staff couldn’t have cared less.

One of them explained that the number of arriving flights was unusual, and that this explained the congestion.

My next question was: With the money they make from charges for luggage weight and taxes, wasn’t that enough to buy the essentials to make things operate correctly?

Unlike Cubans 10 years ago, no one was afraid to openly express their displeasure concerning this issue of the carts, charges for excess weight or even unjust immigration policy.

But viewed from another angle, what were the customs people, who have to deal with the public, going to do. The staff was simply doing their work in accordance with the rules of the airport.

So who do we hold responsible? The airport officials who aren’t doing their jobs? The deranged customs regulations? The National Assembly? The people for not demanding that their leaders make things work?

In the immediacy of the situation, we were all looking to pin the blame on the official closest to us, but the truth was — thinking rationally — I didn’t know whose fault this was.

The plane touched down at 4.45 pm and three hours later, finally, I managed to walk passed the customs barrier. Behind me was almost the entire flight, and there — outside — empty carts were everywhere.

When I stepped outside the building, I looked up at a huge sign welcoming me to Cuba.




5 thoughts on “The Battle for Luggage Carts

  • Your problems are that petty that you are whining over a luggage cart with everyone else? Congratulations on your largesse!

  • Usually, D. Simels, this is not a problem, and plenty of carts are available at Jose Marti International Airport. Still, it is a small airport, even smaller, with with far less traffic, than our closest regional airport, Hartford, Connecticut/Springfield, Massachusetts Bradley Field; hence, when four or five international flights arrive around the same time, which happens only occasionally, they tend to become overwhealmed. In most cases, you will have no problems.

  • Well, looking in from the outside, this is all fascinating to me. What should a first time visitor do? Travel light? Don’t pack much? Be prepared o wait a couple of hours before you’re able to reach the outside of the building and have access to a cart?

  • With the exception of the fanciest tourist hotels, most of the jobs associated with meeting public convienence are left undone in Cuba. It is as if Cubans believe suffering is the mark of a true revolutionary. Most of the suffering is largely unnecessary. A simple change here and there would make a big difference.

  • Things are always a bit different in Cuba, Luis Miguel; after all, “es Cuba.” If in most other places “the customer is always right, ” in Cuba s/he is always WRONG! Fortunately, from the local thrift store I bought a little collapsable rolling luggage cart with bungee cord, onto which I can fit my back-pack and all two or three of my diminuitive suitcases. The only time this didn’t work was one time around midnight, when the taxi-driver who took me from the ViAzul terminal in Nuevo Vedado, but couldn’t find my hotel and depositied me at edge of Haban Vieja. Pulling my loaded cart along the bumpy surfaces, my suitcases kept popping out from the restraints of the bungee cord and, in an undignified manner, flopping onto the cobbled stones of Plaza Vieja. After going around in circles for what seemed like an eternity, I espied a person up ahead, and approached a mysterious stranger up ahead and approached him to ask directions. Alas! It was only a statue of a hooded munk! Fortunately, it also announced that I had arrived at the hotel of the same name, Los Frailes, for which I had reservations! In the future, I suggest you purchase one of these collapsable carts. On the other hand, if you’re bringing in some shrink-wrapped flat-screen tv’s, dvd players, washing machines, etc., then I guess you might need a regular cart from the aduana authorities!

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