With my most recent lost luggage disaster, I have now had bags lost by various airlines 3 times. So I kind of feel like an expert in this department. It’s not much fun. So what happened with my bags?
1st time – Philadelphia to Pittsburgh
The first time I had them lost I was on a family holiday to Pittsburgh. We had a tight connection between 2 US Airways a flights at Philadelphia, and our first flight was delayed. We quite literally ran onto the second plane. Us kids ran ahead and held the plane for my parents, they closed the doors behind us and we took off. There was no way our bags could have made it. Lo and behold, no bags appeared.
So my family of 5 had no clothes or anything really, in Pennsylvania in November. It was weird. And bloody cold! I was about 13 I think, and at the beginning of that awkward teenage stage, where wearing someone elses clothes (bearing in mind I hadn’t met these family members before!) was really strange. But 3 days the airline dropped our lost luggage off. All was well.
2nd Time – Stockholm to London
The second time my bag went awry, was when Ian and I returned from Sweden. We flew by Norwegian Air. We’d had a lovely relaxing holiday, were well rested and happy and we got to baggage claim and waited. Ian’s turned up and mine did not. I was upset mostly because I had souvenirs which I wouldn’t be able to replace. I’m not one to worry about the clothes, but my Moomin thermometer! A few days later and a knock at the door, my bag was safely delivered back at home.
3rd Time – London to Auckland
And then this time. We waited and waited at Auckland baggage claim. Having just flown 30 hours half way across the world, I was at the end of my tether and started crying in the airport. The thing with Southern China is that you are only allowed 5kg in your hand luggage, which is nothing really.
In order to save on weight I had put a lot of things in my checked bag which I would normally carry with me, so I was quite upset. One of the first New Zealanders I spoke to was a member of staff trying to comfort me. He helpfully offered to go ‘out back’ and check that all of the luggage had been offloaded from the plane. He came back with a sheepish and apologetic face.
They had no idea where my bag was, or why Ian’s arrived and mine didn’t (considering they were identical) but they took our accommodation and contact details and reassured me that I would ‘probably’ get it back.
My UK phone wasn’t working so the next day we tracked down a pay phone and I called the airline to check for an update, and they thankfully let me know that they’d found my bag, had been trying to call me all day and could drop it off that evening! (Annoyingly, I’d already told them NOT to call me, as my phone doesnt work yet! I had requested they email me instead.)
But a few hours later I gratefully accepted my bag from a member of staff. According to the tags, my bag had flown from China to Sydney, and then VIP rushed to Auckland. So my stuff has officially been to a country which I haven’t yet. Weird.
So what have I learned from all of this baggage woe?
Lost Luggage? Don’t Lose Your Head!
- First of all – prepare for the worst – the best travel advice I had from my Mum was to always carry spare underwear in your hand luggage, just in case. This time I learned the hard way! And anything that you cannot bear to lose should go in your hand luggage too.
- Attach your contact details to your bag, make sure it is clear and up to date, so if anything goes wrong you can be contacted!
- Hang on to the receipt you are given when you check your bag in – this receipt is very important if your bag has gone awry, it’s how your bag is being traced.
- Make your bag as outstanding and noticeable as possible – it makes spotting your bag easier at the carousel and less likely that someone else may pick up your bag by mistake, and if it has gone amiss, it’s then easier to describe to staff. A big red bag with a luminous yellow and black striped strap around it? That’ll be my bag!
- Best yet, take a photo of your bag before you check it in, so you can show the picture to staff at the other end.
- If your airline has lost your luggage, don’t panic. The staff are there to help you, so getting angry with them is not useful, I’ve seen people get so irate at staff, and it’s really not their fault. It’s rare for bags to go completely missing, and they will do their utmost to trace your bag for you. Of the three times I’ve had bags go missing, I’ve had to wait is 1- 3 days to have my belongings returned, so be patient and wait. Call the airline once a day for updates, and make sure you give them correct contact details so they can get hold of you.
Don’t forget, it’s just material goods, ‘stuff’ can be replaced. I know it’s a pain, but in the grand scheme of things lost luggage isn’t the end of the world.