I was intrigued by the detailed infrastructure and sophisticated AI techniques powering the ‘world-wide computer network’ that was supposedly hunting down my lost bag.

I had a persistent mental image of a person sitting in a dingy, dark corner office buried in the dungeons at Heathrow airport, lazily typing into an old-fashioned, amber, VT220 terminal:

Bag Reference: ‘AHL LHRBD70414’

BRU-LHR: Confirm : ‘Yes’

Is the bag at BRU ? : ‘No’

Is the bag at LHR ? : ‘Dunno’

Is the bag stuck on the conveyor belt ? : ‘Dunno’

Did some idiotic passenger take the wrong bag ? : ‘Possibly’

Has the bag been delivered to another carousel (Bug 6695423) ? : ‘No’

Have you asked Barry, the baggage handler Supervisor ? : ‘Yes’

Have you looked behind the sofa ? : ‘Yes. No bag but we did find the TV remote.’

Computer says: ‘Tell customer the search has now been widened to US and APAC. Wait 3 months before telling the customer it is now too late to submit an insurance claim.’

The illusion has just been cruelly shattered. In the early hours, I received a text message

‘Luggage received. Delivery time will follow.’

promptly followed by another

‘Your luggage should be delivered before 10:00’

Half an hour ago, the doorbell rang and I was reunited with my razor and boxer shorts. Much to the surprise of the delivery driver, we hugged and enjoyed an emotional, tearful reunion.

Unfortunately, I had to tear up the fraudulent insurance claim for a new digital camera, Timberland boots, iPod, wireless headphones, Treo, 3 crates of chocolates, Hercule Poirot moustache, full size replica of the Atomium and electric guitar.