Tuesday, April 04, 2006

The Baggage Claim Blame Game

I only had moderate expectations for my recent trip to Miami. Sure, I never got around to seeing Verdi or very much of South Beach, but goddamn was it a good time. Drinking Patron and eating fresh, local seafood poolside at 4pm every afternoon after a round of golf was just divine.

And things seemed to follow suit on the way back as we touched down and deplaned at JFK . Three of our four pieces of checked bagged showed up right away. I helped load up the taxi and asked my wife and spawn to wait while I retrieved the last suitcase - which happened to be my own.

After about 5 minutes I noticed that a bag identical to mine in every way except for numerous tags and markers, had made its way around the conveyor belt about 4 times.

I triple checked to make sure that it wasn't mine. This bag had a lock, 2 tags, a red piece of masking tape around the handle, and an additional marking on the underside. It was definitely not mine.

Ugh, wait a second.

It occurred to me then that someone, in haste, grabbed my bag by mistake, leaving his own behind.


How this person failed to notice that the bag he took HAD NO LOCK, TAGS, OR OTHER PERSONAL MARKINGS on it was beyond me. But at that point it was too late. He was long gone.

I went out to the cab and told my wife to leave without me, as I had to report the incident to the American Airlines lost baggage department; and God knows how long that was going to take. I could probably fill two posts about lost baggage departments, but for now I'll say simply that tired luggage-less travelers + overworked customer service employees = bad news.

It is a continuous miracle that people are not fucking killing each other in there. I kid you not when I say that I saw, in the course of 5 minutes, the following,

1. An 80-year-old man with a thick Hungarian accent shouting repeatedly , "Vat are you people doing? Vat is going on here?! I can't believe you do this to sick old man!"

2. A demure, pregnant, Dominican-American woman sitting on the floor, quietly weeping into her hands.

Baggage claim pathos. Who knew. Thankfully, I am neither pregnant nor Hungarian, so things weren't so bad, all things considered.

Still, believe or not, it took two days for this clown to figure out he had the wrong bag. TWO FUCKING DAYS! Who doesn't open their luggage for two days? The bag finally found its way from Albany to Chicago and then to NYC. It was delivered to my door 4 days after the start of the brouhaha.

The point of the story? I think the moral here is to pay attention and not take other people's luggage - accident or otherwise. Actually, scratch that. The moral of this story is not to take my luggage. Do whatever you want with everyone else's.

Caveat: leave the old, Hungarian guy alone. I think he's gone through enough already.


At 3:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thats a horrible story.. yet so wonderfully told. Airports and airlines these days are horrible. But at least you got your bag back. I know a few people who have had valuables stolen out of their bags... by the baggage handlers no less. Lol.. I promise never to take your luggage...ever

At 9:48 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some bags are truly identical, which can lead to an experience that is worse that the temporary loss of yours. I once suffered from "the swap", and was appalled when I opened the clone in my hotel room. Gack! Some people apparently do not wash their clothing or grooming utensils. Ever.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger tubeworm said...

My girlfriennd used to wonder why I turn into such an aggressive freak at the baggage claim, until the very same thing happened to her. Normally I stand right where the luggage comes out on to the conveyer belt, but this time I let her convince me to stand further down the line. Sure enough some twit with 95 pieces of luggage snaps up her bag right when it comes off the belt, waltzes away before either of us see it. The dimwit came back a few minutes later, so it wasn't that big a deal. My question is how can you possibly make a mistake like that? What trip could you be taking that requires you to carry so much luggage you can't tell one bag from the other?

At 12:21 PM, Blogger Hungry Researcher said...

Someone once took my coat out of the overhead bin and walked off the plane with it (and the only resemblence between my coat and dumbass's coat was the vague blackness of both). Unfortunately, my passport and wallet happened to be in the coat pocket. (And, yes, it was an international flight). I actually made it through passport control at JFK with only my NYPL Access card.

At 10:47 PM, Blogger Cupcake said...

Muk, I've got to know. Who do you know at Gawker? Everytime I check that site they're linking to you. And now you're on Hot Johnny's Candy in a Barrel? I've said it before and I'll say it again: you are a rockstar.

At 2:18 PM, Blogger Dope on the Slope said...

I had to wait four friggin' days for United to get my luggage to me on a recent business trip, and I was scheduled to be training a bunch of upper management types the next day. I ended up having to buy a whole new wardrobe.

What pisses me off is that they knew when I was boarding the plane that at least half of the passengers would not get their luggage because of some weight to fuel ratio deal.


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