I remember as a child taking relatives to the airport at crazy-o'clock, and being forced to put (heavy) items in my backpack - temporarily. These items would then be transferred to the travellers hand luggage once everything had been weighed at check-in. There was never anything dodgey involved - other than people trying to hustle a few extra kilos here and few pounds there...
Fast forward about 15 years and I'm standing in the lounge ready to leave and my Mum asks
'where is your hand luggage?'
'this is my hand luggage!' I replied cheekily, holding my large handbag, which I considered to be an appropriate size for hand luggage.
'THAT is not hand luggage, that is your handbag. You need a hand luggage and a handbag' my Mum literally barked at me! As though I was doing something wrong, like smuggling cannabis in my handbag!
'What for? I am trying to be compact!'
'Never mind, you will go like this, and when you get the airport you will see people with hand luggage... you will leave British and return as an African'
Wow - my Mum was really taking this issue seriously - and even forced us to take an extra suitcase - just in case. I mean really...would be need an entire extra suitcase?
Here's me doing my 'I'm going to Ghana' dance
We got to the airport, and can you imagine that we were in fact overweight - the cases I mean, not us (actually we probably are too, but no-one cared)! The extra suitcase came in very handy and we were sent away from the check-in desk to 'readjust' our weight. Mother really does know best, eh! We checked the fourth suitcase in and I kept my large handbag as my hand luggage.
As we queued to get on the shuttle bus to our plane, I overheard a concerned member of the BA staff saying 'yes, there's too much...everyone...' I figured from the sheer number of, what can only be described as suitcases, I had seen been paraded through duty-free, that she was talking about excess baggage!
We got on the plane and watched people struggle to lift their 'hand luggage' into the overhead lockers. I was a bit worried myself, as a bit of turbulence and one of those pieces of 'hand luggage' could turn into a serious incident! The lockers were rammed full with 'hand luggage' and when one white passenger went to store his reasonably sized piece of hand luggage in the overhead locker - there was no room. He just glared at all the passengers sitting within a 1 metre radius of his seat and then started shouting for the stewardess. At that moment I was sure he wasn't British. The culture would be to quietly complain, or to say nothing at all!
For this guy, standing amid a sea of African faces, it was on! Him against BA!
The guilty passengers started shifting in their seats. I was just watching and laughing to myself. Oh how my Mum knows her African people. Everyone, except Mr O and I and the few white people on the plane had brought a suitcase into the cabin itself! I mean everyone!
The guy was seriously annoyed, I mean, oooh he was mad! Ooooh people were looking scared - as though they thought they'd be thrown off the plane mid-flight along with their luggage.
In the end, the stewardess removed the most offensive cases from the lockers and asked for the owners! It was like some sort of assembly - everyone prayed that they did not have to admit to smuggling on a suitcase!
It was H.I.L.A.R.I.O.U.S!
The largest suitcases were removed from the cabin and then sent to join the rest of the big baggage! There was one particularly large red suitcase that the owner couldn't even lift out by herself - I mean really! If you can't even lift it, it simply is not hand luggage people!
So, in the end, all of this chaos delayed us by 30-odd minutes...sigh...
So maybe this offers some sort of explanation for the saying 'black people are always late' - go figure...