“So glad we missed that big Delta snafu,” I told my husband and son as we walked into the airport. My son and I were headed to Sweden, where he would be in school for the next year. I had just completed a rigorous MBA program and planned to do some idle wandering myself for a couple of weeks once I got him settled in.
The Delta meltdown initially appeared to be over. Check-in and security were a breeze, but as we approached our departure gate, it was clear the flood waters were still rising. We were in a sea of long lines and long faces of tired and angry people who could do nothing but wait. I’ll spare the details, but my son and I ended up on different flights, through different connecting cities, in different countries.
My son’s flight departed without a hitch. Mine, not quite. After a delay of nearly two hours, reportedly due to weather conditions, I saw a crew depart with their bags. I realized then that we were not going anywhere any time soon and if I continued to wait, I would not make the connecting flight to Stockholm. It could be a day or two before I arrived.
I had no way to contact my son at this point, and he had no idea where our hotel was. Uh oh. Forgot to give him a copy of the itinerary. We were so busy that little detail had slipped our minds.
Upset, I had to do something. There was no gate agent, so I left the boarding area and queued up behind passengers patiently exchanging airport adventure stories. We noted which agents seemed helpful and which ones took too long.
After over half an hour, I was thankful to have gotten “the pleasant guy.” Cheerful, and sympathetic to my ordeal, he was just as we had deduced. The Delta agent kindly booked me on a KLM flight that would get me to Stockholm 20 minutes after my son. Yes! Go Delta.
“There is probably time to pull your bags off the flight so they can arrive with you,” he told me.
“Yay,” I said. If I’m lucky, I thought.
But the bags did not make it onto the plane with me. And unfortunately, those were the bags filled with all of my son’s worldly winter possessions– coats, boots, sweaters– all the things he would need for the freezing Swedish winter ahead. Plus, my things were in there too. The agent had checked both bags under my ticket, neither under his. How did I miss that?
I really wasn’t concerned at all, though. In over 20+ years of flying all over the world, none of us has ever had a bag go missing permanently. Misdirected bags have always been located and delivered within 2-3 days. So, I filled out the claim form (This is very important! If your bag does not show up, do NOT leave the airport without filling out a claim form) and we were on our way.
I checked in with both KLM and Delta every day. “One is at Charles de Gaulle and on its way!” and “One never left JFK. It will go out tonight!” I was told. If only those bags could phone home. By the fourth day when we were leaving Stockholm for Jönköping, and still no bags, I worried.
Finally, one bag was delivered to our hotel in Jönköping seven days later, but the other bag, the most important one with the winter gear was never located. Fortunately, I had a list of items packed and a photo of our suitcase, which made filling out the claim form much easier. Below are tips I have learned over the years and from this experience:
- Give everyone travelling a copy of the itinerary – and leave a copy with someone at home
- Make a list of everything you pack
- Photograph your bag
- Tag all bags both inside & out with your name & number
- Pack 2-3 days of clothing in a carry-on
- Keep all necessities such as medicine in your carry-on
- Do not check anything valuable such as camera equipment or jewelry.
If your bag doesn’t show up:
- File a claim form before leaving the airport
- Leave a detailed itinerary with the airline
- Read & carefully follow all filing instructions
- Watch out for deadlines
- Keep copies of all related forms and receipts
- Don’t cash a check if the amount is in dispute
Some things are not covered under airline rules. Read the rules before booking your ticket and pack accordingly. If the amount of your claim is in dispute and the airline sends you a check, you are most likely settling your claim for that amount if you cash it. But that is a legal question and I am not an attorney.
Sweden was lovely, and we both learned a few lessons. Delta reimbursed us, but I would love to know where that bag finally ended up. If only bags could talk 🙂
Here’s wishing you safe & happy travels– and that your bags make it ❤️✨
© 2017 jsf.