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- The Golden Retrievers of travel,
Tropical Island Maxim #2
The loudest, most enthusiastic people on the beach are American tourists.
Tropical Island Maxim #1
The most sunburned people on the beach are British tourists.
Such a sinking feeling.
You’re standing at the luggage carousel, waiting for your bag to appear. Then the loading belt stops moving. You walk around the carousel. Not there. You look in the oversized baggage area. Nothing. You look in the cruise ship pile. Nope.
I don’t normally check luggage. But wrangling two wheelies in addition to two carry-ons and one very wiggly toddler is a pain. Now everything was gone. I had even split our stuff equally between the two cases in case one went missing. Fat lot of good it did me now.
We filed a report with JetBlue before leaving the Barbados airport and headed to our accommodations. After the initial anger and frustration wore off, I realized that we actually needed very little and what we did need could be purchased. The clothes we were wearing could be washed. Our valuables were in our carry-ons, so nothing irreplaceable was lost. And most importantly, there was beer in the fridge. Things could be worse.
After several unanswered calls to JetBlue and no updates on their tracking site, I posted a comment on Twitter that night and heard from JetBlue’s social media crew almost instantly. They didn’t have any new info for me, but they were kind and reassuring. It was still a crappy situation, but take heed, companies: that seemingly tiny response kept a customer.
The next morning, I tried calling JetBlue’s central baggage department (no answer), JetBlue’s baggage department at JFK airport (no answer) and the JetBlue desk at the Barbados airport (mailbox was full). Still nothing on the luggage tracking site. Back to Twitter. By early that afternoon, they @-replied that my bags were on that day’s flight out of JFK. By the end of the day, our bags were delivered to our rental house, safe and sound. Best possible scenario.
According to air transport communications and IT company SITA, 26 million bags were “mishandled” worldwide in 2012, which is a little less than 9 per 1000 travelers. The majority of these (83%) were delayed. Less than 5% were completely lost. So odds of your luggage arriving with you are in your favor. Even though I usually carry on, I’ve probably checked a bag at least a few hundred times and this is only the third time my luggage has been delayed by more than a few hours. And (despite supposed tracking improvements) this was the first time the airline hasn’t been able to locate it in their system immediately.
The number one cause of delayed baggage is transfer between connecting flights, with checking in late and incorrect (or incorrectly read) tags a distant second and third. But we checked in early, had a direct flight, and the code on the baggage tag was correct. So how did this happen?
I haven’t been able to verify this independently, but the airline’s luggage delivery person told me that bags are pulled “all the time” for aircraft weight limits, especially when flying into smaller airports. It didn’t matter that our bags were well under the baggage weight limit; once the plane is fueled, total weight is re-calculated and the excess is removed. They try to budget for ~200 lbs per person but many people pay for excess baggage. So, the wanker checking in behind us got *both* of his golf club cases and his three suitcases while we got squat.
As the delivery person put it, I guess it was simply our turn.
- from warm and sunny Westmoreland, Barbados, where we didn’t need much more than a bathing suit after all.
p.s. The day after our bags were delivered, the JetBlue baggage tracking site still showed them as missing. Beautiful.