It’s 11AM on a Sunday morning in Melbourne, Australia, and I’m getting a sinking feeling in my stomach as I watch the carousel in baggage claim spin round-and-round. I’ve just gotten off a 15-hour flight from Los Angeles, and have been travelling for an additional 27 hours on multiple flights and car rides before that. I am exhausted and hungry and dirty and I just want to grab my bags and get to my new home in Melbourne. As I stand there watching the carousel however, I start to doubt that will happen anytime soon. There are only a few bags still circling around on the baggage claim, and mine isn’t one of them.
Great, I think to myself. They’ve lost my luggage.
I immediately walked over to customer service and notified them that my bag was lost. The customer service representative was able to track down my bag and told me it had missed its connecting flight in Chicago, and was still there. This meant that it needed to be transferred at least twice before it would make its way back to me. I filled out a bunch of forms, gave the airline my contact information and the address of the house I would be staying in, and made my way home. All I could do now, was wait.
It wasn’t until a sunny Friday afternoon, six days after my initial flight, that I heard a knock on the door and was greeted by an employee from my airline who had my bag. Turns out my problems didn’t end there though, and my excitement over not having to wear the same pair of leggings for another day in a row quickly faded. One of the wheels on my luggage had been completely ripped off, leaving a gaping hole in the bottom of my bag. Luckily, a thin liner on the inside of my bag kept my belongings intact. But as you can imagine, I was less than thrilled about my brand new $300 piece of luggage being destroyed.
I’m usually not one to whinge, but I immediately called up my airline and complained about their service. I knew I wasn’t going to get any compensation for my bag unless I asked for it, so I filed a complaint. The customer representative I spoke to on the phone said my airline would mail me a form to get my luggage sent in for repair and that it would arrive within the week.
Three weeks later and I still hadn’t received the form.
I then called the baggage services department (the number I had been told to call by a representative from my airline) at the airport every week for the next month. No one ever answered the phone or returned my messages. Finally, over two months after my initial flight, I was able to get a hold of the department and they sent out another form which I received in the mail several days later.
The letter informed me I was to bring my damaged bag downtown to a luggage shop for repair and/or replacement. This was yet another problem. Due to the constraints in the schedule of my job, and also that I didn’t have access to a car, it made getting all the way downtown with my bag nearly impossible.
At this point I was beyond frustrated. If my airline lost and then broke my luggage, why is the responsibility on me to get it fixed? Why am I going through all the trouble of calling up the airline (many, many times) and filing complaints, and then expected to carry my large, heavy, broken suitcase on public transport all the way downtown, only to be told that – yes, indeed my bag was damaged beyond repair – and sent home with a replacement? I’d had enough.
I wrote a polite but scathing email to my airlines customer care office telling them of my ordeal. I included photos of my damaged bag as well as a picture of the form I’d (eventually) received in the mail from them.
I received a phone call several days later from an employee from my airline who finally handled my complaint with the care it deserved. I again told her of my situation, and she agreed that I should have my bag picked up from my home, and if it cannot be fixed, have it replaced and the new one again delivered back to me.
After two and a half months of being jerked around by my airline, I finally had my new bag.
It was certainly a nightmare I hope to never have happen again.