Our lost bag is still lost, and I’m starting to despair of it ever being found. American Airlines assures me it will be located, but that’s little comfort to me since it seems they don’t know ANYTHING about where it is. I’m learning a lot about how poor the baggage handling system is. It seems that it should be an automated computerized system. After all, that strap put on the bag has a bar code, right? It must get scanned at various points in the system, like a FedEx package, right? Nope! It’s mere illusion. As one AA clerk told me, “The baggage tag is for the benefit of the airport, not the airline.” In other words, it merely IDs the bag.
The baggage handling system is completely manual, I’m told. Someone looks at the tag to figure out where it should go. And no record is kept unless a person manually enters it into the computer system. So the bag might still be at LAX. It might be sitting at DFW. It could be in Cancun or Nome, Alaska, or JFK, and the only way anyone would know is if they eyeballed it and realized it was in the wrong place. Having done that, they might just put it on a plane without ever entering it into the system. So it might be back at LAX after its trip to Cancun, or sent on the DFW. And then the same problem – it sits in the pile of misdirected or “lost” luggage until someone gets around to dealing with it.
And I’m told by the clerks that there’s a backlog of 2,000 “lost” bags at LAX and 1,000 “lost” bags at DFW, just sitting there waiting for someone to enter them into the system and finally match them up with an owner who can then be contacted.
All of which makes it pretty strange that they give you a locator number and a website to check “bag status.” It seems that the only two statuses are “we know nothing” and “here’s your bag.”
I’m no longer hopeful that we’ll get the bag back. And of course it’s the bag with all of the gifts the girls got from foster family and orphanages. It even has the little bottles with dirt, rocks and flowers we picked up at their finding sites. It has the wonderful Zhuang dresses – yours, too, Wendy – and books of Chinese art prints I planned to donate to next year’s Love Without Boundaries art auction. It has my favorite mandarin-style jacket and the only pair of jeans I own that actually fit right. It has all the girls’ books for learning Chinese – it’s actually pretty hard to find books with English AND Pinyin AND Chinese characters, even in China. It has 3 pairs of china dolls wearing costumes of the various ethnic minority groups in China. It has the gift we bought to bring back to Grandpa. It has the cute little felt boots from Mongolia that I wanted to add to my collection of Chinese children’s shoes.
We’re not losing any one thing with high economic value, but the sentimental value of the things in that suitcase is enormous. Sigh.