Retrieving bags at an airport is hell on Earth writes Michelle Langstone.

It's some kind of condition, isn't it — people's inability to wait behind the line at baggage carousels in airports. You're standing there, politeness personified, with your weary traveller feet tucked neatly behind the marked line, and people —strangers — just wander directly into the space in front of you, a space that can't be more than half a metre, and stay there.

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They materialise in front of you like unwelcome ghosts, straining toward the luggage belt like it has them in a tractor beam, ignoring the fact they've invaded your personal space and obscured your view.


Even worse is the body shove you get from someone coming through as if they own the place. Jammed in there, slavering for their bags, they look like hyenas waiting to pounce on a wounded animal, and the bags haven't even been loaded on the carousel yet. THERE ARE NO BAGS, MATE.

While we wait I'm treated to a lovely whiff of your body odour, or perhaps your hair in my face if I'm lucky, while you've forgotten I exist, if you even noticed me in the first place.

For someone who danced for many years and trained in theatre, it is a particular kind of hell. How can you not feel the presence of the human you've usurped, standing behind you with a trolley, just hoping for the best in life? I am a nice lady, but you should know I look at the backs of your legs and imagine where I would give you a sharp, wounding kick.

Baggage carousels bring out the absolute worst in human behaviour. It's pathological, and it happens in every country I have ever been to. Carousel Dysfunction is a disease afflicting many humans, and manifesting in a total lack of consideration. I've had people stand on my feet, drag a suitcase directly on to my foot, and roll a trolley over my toes in their desperation to get as close as they can to that electric belt.

Retrieving bags at an airport is hell on Earth; it's carnage enacted hourly on a strip of linoleum beside a rotating belt. I don't know how airport staff cope, seeing that every day. It must be like watching a nature documentary; you'd imagine Attenborough narrating the scene: "The balding male in Canterbury apparel assesses the crowd, and shoves ahead of a quiet female he perceives is no threat. In prime position he surveys his territory, seemingly unaware that behind him, the female is considering murder."

Here's the thing, mates: the bags are coming. THE BAGS WILL COME. The bags will make their way around the carousel in a leisurely manner, and standing so close that you can practically huff the smell of the rubber belt isn't going to make them arrive any faster, nor will it make your bag arrive first. In fact, that quiet muttering you may discern just behind you is me, offering up a fervent prayer to the travel gods that your bag has been lost in transit forever.