WAITING at an airport carousel for your baggage to arrive is one of life's least rewarding activities. The most irritating aspect is that the whole process is totally random. The carousel is a sort of wheel of fortune: whether you checked in early or late has no bearing on when your baggage eventually turns up.

The other infuriating factor is that, while you may check in three bags at the same time, the three bags are extremely unlikely to turn up together on the belt. (Only three things in life are certain: death, taxes and the fact that your luggage will never turn up in a tight group.)

Presumably, the only pleasure that baggage loaders/unloaders get from their job is in making sure that if you check in three bags, two will plop on to the carousel at the very beginning, leaving you to chew your nails until the last one turns up among the stragglers 20 minutes later. Not even the sight of passengers' burst suitcases littering the arrivals hall with embarrassing piles of underwear can offer much cheer in these circumstances.

So imagine an airport where you have to wait for your luggage not once but twice. Florida's newly remodelled Orlando airport has devised just such a treat. The airport has become so big (it is expected to outstrip America's biggest aiport, Chicago O'Hare, shortly) that it now has satellite terminals linked to the main building by shuttle trains. It is bad enough that the main terminal seems to be about 400 miles from the satellites. But for some curious reason, customs is based in the satellite.

So, having collected your bags and cleared them through customs, you have to check them in again, take the shuttle, and wait for them a second time at the main terminal. If this were a punishment, it could only be described as cruel and unusual.