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Where’s My Luggage?

It’s happened at one time or another to just about everyone I know. Yet, the airlines claim that they only mishandle or lose 1,207 bags for every 10,000 passengers. To put it bluntly, that means that on the average, you can expect it will happen to you once in every 120 air trips you take.

From our point of view, if we fly to a dozen ConFAMs©

each year, we can

reasonably expect that it will happen to us about once in 20 years. From YOUR point of view, if you have 120 people fly to your reunion, you can expect that on the average, one of your attendees can be expected to get “Lost-Baggage-itis!”


According to the airlines, there are four major reasons this happens:

1) Damage to the routing label 2) You forget to pick up your bag 3) The attendant typed the wrong code

4) Your bag got on to the wrong plane

Despite all the precautions, however, many a lost bag sits in a holding area and is simply not checked by an employee. In most cases it sits at the airport for a week or so, waiting for someone to claim it.

After a week or so, if it is not claimed, it goes to a warehouse at or near the airport. If you want your bag it is very important that you file a claim as quickly as possible. The bags in the warehouse are sorted by size, color, and date. If not claimed after 90 days, you should probably kiss it goodbye, because that’s exactly what the airlines will do. Depending where it is, they will either donate it to charity or sell it to the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Alabama. At the center, employees prepare the stuff for

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resale by unpacking bags, laundering clothes, polishing jewelry, checking electronics, and removing tags and labels from the bags themselves. The center processes roughly 7,000 bags every single day!

Center Donations

In all fairness, the center is not all about making money. First, they pay the airlines for every bag before they know what is in it. Second, they do not keep the thousands upon thousands of pairs of sunglasses and prescription glasses. These are donated to the Scottsboro Chapter of the Lions Club International for their “Sight First” program. Meanwhile the center is open if you want to browse for bargains. A few years ago, someone purchased an unopened crate (you can bid on some of these at an auction). The crate was opened and after an excessive amount of packing material spilled out, the purchaser found himself looking at a life-size face of “Hoggle” from the movie Labyrinth. It was such a mess that it sent employees running. Here is a comparison.

In my own case, we were flying to LA to pick up a Hawaiian cruise, and my main bag never arrived. The cruise line was very understanding and gave us a shipboard credit of $50 plus a free tuxedo rental for the formal night. They had no shoes, so I wore my Reeboks at the formal. The next night was billed as semi-formal so I wore the tux jacket and my jeans figuring the top half was formal and the bottom half not – truly a case of semi-formal. The worst part was that my eyeglasses were in the lost bag, along with the wetting solution for my contacts. Fortunately, I found one of the clerks in the ship’s store who wore hard lenses and she was kind enough to lend me a bottle of solution. The ship purser’s office followed up for me and three days later they found the bag. It was delayed another day until we arrived at a port near a major airport where we could tie up to the dock.

Chasing Hoggle before Hoggle after Horror Stories

There is no question that people are seriously inconvenienced by lost luggage, and the horror stories are legion. Budget Travel even has a blog where you are invited to post your worst or most absurd story. Imagine, for example, going to a foreign country to get married or going on a honeymoon and have your baggage fail to show up!

Sometimes a bag chases you, like the case where the guy flew to Seattle only to find his bag was gone! Apparently the tag had been misrouted to Shanghai. By the time it got to Seattle, the flier was at his next stop in Phoenix. The bag was forwarded to Phoenix, but the flight it was on was delayed by a storm. The traveler meanwhile had gone on to Chicago. The airline dutifully sent the bag to Chicago, but the traveler had finished his business by the time it arrived, and had flown back home to his home in San Francisco. He was notified that the bag was at the San Francisco airport two days later. Unfortunately for him, it was not so easy to reclaim the bag because it had gone out of the country to Shanghai in its travels, so he had to clear it with U.S. Customs


Be sure you DOUBLE TAG every checked bag, and file claims promptly! R E U N I O N F R I E N D L Y N E W S • Winter, 2011-2012

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