Monday, August 11, 2008

Well, my luggage finally made it here.

Seriously. This is how it ended up at my house, two days after I got back to my house.

When your luggage is "delayed," as the airlines call it, you have to file a claim. At that time, they have literally no information about where your bag might be or when (or if) you will ever see it again.

They ask you what it looks like (black, like every other bag in the entire world).

They ask you to describe a few items that might be inside the bag (which means they open it up and dig around in it to make sure it's yours).

They ask you when you last saw the bag (um . . . when I gave it to your people yesterday and they put a tag on it and sent it down that belt to where bags are then lost).

Then they give you a piece of paper with a record locater number on it and a phone number to call if you haven't heard anything by the next day. And you leave the airport feeling like you've left your child behind with a sketchy babysitter. This very personal thing that is yours and that contains some of your very personal things is completely at the mercy of people who mislabeled and misplaced your bag in the first place.

They are your only hope of recovering every pair of underwear you own and your most favoritest jeans in the whole world. And the only assurance they can offer you is "we'll do our best to get your bag back."

So, when I hadn't heard from them the first afternoon or at all the first night, I called them Sunday morning to get an update. The lady was very nice but said they had no new information. They still had not located my bag. But they might have an update later in the day.

I then discovered that you can check the status of your "delayed" bag online. So I obsessively checked online about every 30 minutes all day on Sunday. When the day had passed and I still had no indication from the airline that my bag was any closer to being found than it was the day before, I called them again.

Still no update. So I asked the lady what was her best thought on what happened to my bag. I've had "delayed" bags many, many times before (it seems to be a curse), but never for over 24 hours missing.

She rattled off, like, 10 things that could have "delayed" my bag. She said that since it was an international bag, it might be stuck in Customs somewhere. Apparently Customs can pull a bag and hold it for 24 hours for no good reason and without having to tell anyone.

I find it curious that luggage rules are so very, very strict. They dictate what you can take on the plane with you, how big your bags can be, how much they can weigh. They don't let you leave a bag unattended, for security reasons. They scan and x-ray your bags. Sometimes they open them and search them by hand. They don't even let your bag on your flight if you are not also on your flight.

BUT, should they decide they want to hold your bag while you fly away, they don't even have to tell you, the airline, security, NO ONE. Which means that in order to get your bag to you later, they have to put it on flight that you are not on.

This seems contrary to that whole rule that your bag can't fly on a flight that you, yourself, are not also partaking of.

Not only can they pull a bag and not tell anyone, there is no way to track that the bag has been pulled or kept. They can't even track if the bag made it to your first destination before being "delayed" before getting to your connecting flight.

You literally hand them your bag when you check in for your flight, then no one can tell you where it is until it is in your hands again at some point in time after you arrive at your new destination.

In fact, ALL bags are essentially lost the second they leave your control and become the responsibility of the airlines, until they arrive back in your hands.

Anyway, the lady concluded her "helpful" information by mentioning that 98.6% of all "delayed" bags are found and returned to their owners, and most of them are not missing any belongings.

That's really not as reassuring as I think she meant it to be.

So, after no actual news yesterday, I got a call this morning on my office line. It went something like this:

Me: Hello
Phone: Yes, hello. Is this The Tyrant?
Me: Yes
Phone: Ok. Are you missing a bag?
Me: YES. I am.
Phone: Ok, did you file a claim?
Me: YES. I did.
Phone: Ok, well I have a bag. What's the claim number?
Me: 123XYZ
Phone: Ok. I just needed to verify that this is the right bag. They put the wrong ticket on it when you checked it, so it doesn't match the luggage claim ticket they gave you when you checked the bag.
Me: Well, it must be my bag since you called my office line and I filed the claim with my cell number. The bag identification tag is my business card.
Phone: Oh.

Phone: Ok, we'll have this sent out to you today.
Me: Fantastic. When?
Phone: The driver will call you 30 minutes before he gets to your house.
Me: Fantastic. Thank you!

So, right after lunch I got a call on my cell phone, but I didn't recognize the number and the call cut off before anyone said anything. I tried to call it back but it wouldn't let me.

I called the "delayed" baggage number again to see if they could tell me if the delivery service had called because I would need to run home to meet my long lost suitcase. This guy was NOT helpful and it went something like this:

Me: Hi, I got a call that was cut off and I'm waiting for a call from the delivery service to give me 30 minutes notice that they will be delivering my bag to my house. Do you know if they called me?
Phone Guy: Do you have a claim number?
Me: 123XYZ
Phone Guy: M'aam, the bag was picked up this morning and they deliver within 6 hours, but the driver will call you 30 minutes ahead of time.
Me: Yes, I know. I got a call but it was cut off. I'm wondering if you can tell if the delivery service called so that I know if I should go home to be there when he gets there.
Phone Guy: I don't know if he called.
Me: There's no way to contact the delivery company and check?
Phone Guy: No, I can't do that. You should have your bag later today.
Me: Thanks.

Once again, they have NO IDEA WHERE MY BAG IS and no way to find out. Sheesh.

Fortunately, a little while later the delivery service called and asked if I could be home at 4:30 because they would be there at 4:30 with my bag. Done and done.

My bag was SO CLOSE to being home.

However, I come back from a meeting at 3:45 to find this message on my cell phone:

"Uh, hi. I'm from the delivery service and I have your bag. It's 3:30 and I got here a little earlier than I expected and I can't get anyone to come to the door. So, I'm just gonna leave the bag behind the fence on the right side of the house."
Did I mention that it has been raining most of the day today? And now my poor suitcase has been heaved over my fence into my soggy backyard.

So, I got in the car and hurried home to put my suitcase in the house. And this is what I found when I got home:

It's just the saddest long-lost luggage picture ever.

Oh well. At least I have my bag. And everything seems to still be in it that was originally in it, and there are no extra things that were not originally in it. I guess my bag is one of those 98.6%.

There's no real indication of what all my bag has been through during the past three days when I last saw it in Capetown. I hope it had a happy adventure.

But, I've certainly never been so happy to do laundry in my whole life.


1 comment:

Michelle said...

I'm trying to figure out HOW you don't have more comments (and apparently people reading your blog). Someone posted a link to you about his first ever blog experience and I followed and have read a bunch and keep giggling. But no comments? Or so few comments? I'm shocked!

Glad your bag made it back safely!