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The British Olympic team did a lot right at this year’s Summer Olympic Games in Rio, taking 67 medals back to England, but when traveling home, they did something that was anything but medal-worthy.

An article in The Washington Post revealed that when the 300-plus athletes and support staff got off their plane, they were greeted not only by a slew of flag-waving, cheering fans, but also a sea of red bags.

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You see, someone behind the scenes for the British Olympic team made the decision that all of its athletes should have the same red suitcase to show team unity, but didn’t think far enough ahead to realize what would happen when 900-plus identical bags would roll out on the luggage carousel together.

Olympian Rick Dempsey, who took home a silver medal in Men’s windsurfing, was a bit flabbergasted when he went to pick up his bags at the airport and realized that it wasn’t going to be easy.

However, fellow Olympic sailor, Sophie Ainsworth, didn’t mind the problem, tweeting out, “Honored to be a part of the Olympics” and “This is a fantastic problem to have.”

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Brian Parrish, a spokesperson for Southwest Airlines, has seen situations like this before and notes that Southwest customer service agents pay strict attention to ensure all bags are properly tagged with the owner’s name and contact information.

“We place an intense focus on making certain that we properly tag each piece of checked baggage with the correct final destination upon customer check in,” he says. “Our Ground Operations Team manually reads each tag on checked baggage to ensure items are properly loaded so that we deliver our customers’ checked items as promised.”

Unless the travelers themselves do something to distinguish the bags, those at the check-in desks can’t really do anything except ensure that they have the proper ID tags on the luggage.

Peter Greenberg, who runs a travel blog, notes there are several ways that people could distinguish their luggage, and any of these tips could have helped the Olympic athletes solve their “red” dilemma.

His tips include using a unique luggage tag, featuring an animal or a fluorescent color; add colorful duct tape to the bag; attach a colorful or unusual luggage belt, and adding travel stickers.

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Travel host Channon Dade has traveled the world during her 17 years working in the travel industry, including landing on five continents and 35 different countries.

“I have an emblem of my alma mater, Stanford University, attached to my bag to help it standout.” she says. “Even if there was another bag that looked like mine, I would know the difference.”

Now, a simple fix for the British team could have been just writing the athlete’s name on the bag somewhere, but even with the problems it caused, the Brits all seemed to have a good laugh about it. Besides, with the number of medals it returned to its country with, they were just excited about the whole experience.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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