Advice for preventing/dealing with lost baggage

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Tim Cullen

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Dec 31, 2010, 8:31:03 AM12/31/10
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Hi All--

Apologies in advance if this email is off-topic or not of interest to the list.

My wife and I have returned to the US after a year abroad, mostly in the Middle East.  Our trip home took us through the mess at Charles de Gaulle airport in Paris, and we haven't seen our baggage since we checked it in Amman.  it's pretty much all we own, except for the computers and medication we carried on-board.

On arrival to Philadelphia over a week ago, we filed a lost baggage claim report, and have been in regular touch with our airline (Delta/Air France).  The operators have been polite and eager to help, but they've given us contradictory information and little hope that we'll see our bags again.  I've even been in touch with @DeltaAssist on twitter, but after they acknowledged received our information, they've been silent.

I'd like to know if others on the list have experienced similar situations, and what you have for either avoiding these problems or successfully resolving them.

Off the bat, here are a few things I've learned:

1.  Don't travel with a lot of bags.

2.  If you're travelling with a lot of bags, keep the important stuff in your carry-ons:  passports, prescription medication (with prescription information), irreplaceable data, etc.

3.  Document EVERYTHING in your checked bags and carry this with you and keep the information online somewhere.  By everything, I mean note the size, color and brand of each checked bag.  Then document everything you put in that bag.   In the case of clothes, note (as best you can) item type, gender, size, color, cloth (!), brand, date and place of purchase, and price.

4.  Buy your plane tickets using a credit card which provides lost baggage or travellers' insurance.


Here are some specific questions I have for other technomads:

1.  Anyone else experience CDG over the last two weeks?  Anyone else in the same boat?  What was your experience.

2.  Does lost/delayed luggage often find its way home after 10+ days?  How common is this?

3.  Beyond the airlines, is it possible/desirable to make contact with the airports themselves in the search for lost luggage?

4.  Are there any third-party services which help with baggage recovery?

5.  Is US small-claims court a helpful way of resolving these issues after exhausting the processes provided by the airlines?



Thanks in advance, and here's to a save, exciting, enlightening and well-travelled 2011!

Tim


That Poet

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Jan 2, 2011, 2:56:01 PM1/2/11
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Tim:

It is of interest, if only because, in community, we commiserate and support each other in grief, too.

We've only had lost bags on AA, and they were found after two or three days, depending upon laziness and whim of the airline employees, apparently.

Your advice about traveling with too many bags is valuable.  My wife and I are making the permanent move from LA to Paris in two weeks, and are trying to decide how many to ship as cargo (along with the cat, who isn't allowed in the cabin in international), or how many to ship through a private vendor instead.

My advice, as a long-time, cranky American consumer (and ex-journalist) is to go NOW to as many other outlets (the airports) as possible, as well as as high up in the airline food chain as you can get.  And the local newspaper consumer "advice columnist," and travel-related Websites.  All horror stories such as yours are bad PR for the airlines, and they are most vulnerable there.

--Richard


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Lisa King

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Jan 2, 2011, 2:55:07 PM1/2/11
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Tim,

Sorry about your bags - I've heard the mess at CDG wasn't fun. I know that LHR Terminal 5 took several weeks to untangle and so there is still hope. If you indeed know your bags were properly tagged and went there, do indeed contact the airport baggage office directly - don't count on the airlines.

One thing I've also found helpful is taking a picture of my bag - more than once I've had people swear up and down that it isn't in the storeroom, etc. but when I show them the picture they say "Oh, I know right where that is." It can be especially helpful when you don't know how to describe it in the local language.

If you have travel insurance, they can often assist with baggage since lost or delayed luggage can result in a claim and they will have better contacts at the airlines.

good luck!
Lisa

On Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 8:31 AM, Tim Cullen <tim.c...@gmail.com> wrote:
Hi All--



Off the bat, here are a few things I've learned:

1.  Don't travel with a lot of bags.

2.  If you're travelling with a lot of bags, keep the important stuff in your carry-ons:  passports, prescription medication (with prescription information), irreplaceable data, etc.

3.  Document EVERYTHING in your checked bags and carry this with you and keep the information online somewhere.  By everything, I mean note the size, color and brand of each checked bag.  Then document everything you put in that bag.   In the case of clothes, note (as best you can) item type, gender, size, color, cloth (!), brand, date and place of purchase, and price.

4.  Buy your plane tickets using a credit card which provides lost baggage or travellers' insurance.


Here are some specific questions I have for other technomads:

1.  Anyone else experience CDG over the last two weeks?  Anyone else in the same boat?  What was your experience.

2.  Does lost/delayed luggage often find its way home after 10+ days?  How common is this?

3.  Beyond the airlines, is it possible/desirable to make contact with the airports themselves in the search for lost luggage?

4.  Are there any third-party services which help with baggage recovery?

5.  Is US small-claims court a helpful way of resolving these issues after exhausting the processes provided by the airlines?



Thanks in advance, and here's to a save, exciting, enlightening and well-travelled 2011!

Tim


Aaron Glenn

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Jan 2, 2011, 2:55:16 PM1/2/11
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On Fri, Dec 31, 2010 at 8:31 AM, Tim Cullen <tim.c...@gmail.com> wrote:
>
> I'd like to know if others on the list have experienced similar situations,
> and what you have for either avoiding these problems or successfully
> resolving them.
>

my favorite anecdote is photographers who check a flare gun with their
five-figure equipment. (US) airlines have very little interest in the
regulatory nightmare that is losing a firearm. while I personally have
not checked a firearm, I do know it is a relatively straight forward
process and useful for ensuring checked luggage is not lost or stolen.
for international, I've always FedEx'ed important items.

$0.02,
aaron

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