In the 14 years that I’ve been running this site, there have a only been a few thefts that have been reported. As I was reading through the reviews submitted this year, I came across this Canadian woman’s experience at Barcelona El Prat Airport so I thought I would add it here as there is good information should you or someone you know ever find yourself in such a position….either at the airport or anywhere in your travels. This is her story…
“Had one last day in Barcelona before flying out from there so I went sightseeing again for the day and went to the airport late around 11 PM thinking I’d do as I usually do when I have an early morning flight and doze a bit, then check in..this was when I was robbed! My bags were beside and under me the whole night but a few minutes before I was going to check in I closed my eyes for a few minutes again and all of my bags were gone. My luggage, my purse, everything. I only had 10 euros left in cash, and I cancelled my credit card right away but my digital camera, memory card, mobile phone, passport, clothes, keys, and address book were all gone. The only thing the thief didn’t manage to take were my glasses and contact lenses.
So, long story short…
Don’t close your eyes at Barcelona Airport..but if you absolutely have to, put all your money and passport in a money belt under your clothes, on you. People will take anything at this airport, including your luggage. While I was making vain attempts to recover my bag, I saw another couple of bags that were left unattended in a restaurant and I can’t imagine they stayed that way for long. There were 2 other people at the airport police box in a similar situation as me, only they were Spanish.
Don’t bother filing a police report at the airport…they are slow, unhelpful, and quite frankly, don’t give a rat’s ass. Try the police office across from the Canadian Consulate in Catalunya Square. The whole time I was there I felt like I was inconveniencing them by making them actually work. It was the biggest waste of time I’ve ever experienced in my life. The Canadian Consulate pleaded with them to drop me off at their office downtown or loan me the 5 euro fare to get to them, but they not only refused..they laughed rather evilly. They wouldn’t let me check my email, either to get phone numbers and claimed they couldn’t make any international calls.
Contact your airline right away. Get them to issue you a temporary ticket with a local reservation number. Explain your situation thoroughly…I really had to lay it on thick and even then the guy at the ticket counter kept telling me it would cost $999 to get on a Tuesday flight at the earliest.
Go to the Consulate immediately. They will loan you money to take a cab (about 20 euros from the airport to their office) and get you started on paperwork. They will also let you use their phones for calls and use their internet connection to get everything sorted out. It will take about 2 business days to get your travel documents so the sooner you go, the sooner they can get started.
Get someone to wire you money! 200-300 euros should cover you for 2 nights accommodation and the temporary documents you’ll need to fly home. Swallow your pride and call your parents right away, getting them to wire you money at a Western Union in cash, even if it’s 4:30 AM their time as it was in my case. They love you and want to help you and the anguish I caused my mother is one of the worst things that happened.
Call your company right away and explain the situation–I used my boss as my reference to verify my identity and he was very helpful. Make sure you have a decent address book you can access online–had I not had this I would not have even been able to fill out my paperwork to get my temporary document home. A credit card number somewhere online is crucial too for you to rebook your ticket.
Above all, don’t panic! I managed to keep it together and ran on the adrenaline to do everything as quickly as possible. Plead with your air company…I did this 3 times and by the 3rd they finally agreed that because of my situation they would only charge me 130 euros in fare difference, waiving the rebooking fee they put me on an Air Canada flight first thing Friday morning. The woman at the Consulate said she’d never seen anyone handle the pressure so well. Of course I fell apart that night in my hotel room but generally it was OK.
What did this whole experience teach me? It’s crucial to have a strong support system. Had I not been able to get cash wired to me within the first few hours, I would have been homeless, indebted to the Canadian Consulate around 80 euros (though they are flexible with repayment), and would have been unable to eat on 4 euros for 2 days. They simply do not have large sums of money to loan people at their office although the woman I was working with was very understanding..I’m sure they would find some way to get you accommodations for the night or at least would’ve let you stay in their office overnight. I was considering asking them if my money didn’t come through.
Think of using everything you can if you’re in the same position and unable to get someone to wire you some money. I saw a few people with the ‘GOT ROBBED, NEED MONEY’ signs and I would imagine that
would rake in enough euros to get something to eat. Trying bakeries and churches at the end of the day would probably also be useful. You will absolutely have to get a credit card number or cash somehow though, to rebook your flight and pay the Consulate for your documents.”