Saturday, August 4, 2007

Lost Luggage

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.


Wendy said...

That is so disheartening, I don't mean to add insult to injury, but I have also heard if you don't get the bag back within a week you probably never will. So sad.
There is some lost luggage place in the South somewhere, I don't remember (maybe Georgia) where the luggage eventually ends up and where it is sold--that makes me so mad because the address is on the bag more times than not!
Good luck getting it!!!! My only suggestion is to call LAX, ask for the luggage clerk near baggage claim and explain the dilemma, sometimes they are sitting right there at the claim area. We refused to leave the airport (we had that luxury there) and they miraculously found ours.
I will pay you for the outfits anyway, you should not be out the cost. I THANK YOU so much for trying to bring them back. I am really saddened for the girls and their lost foster family and orphanage gifts.
Good luck!

Anonymous said...

Things often look darkest before the dawn. There is a chance that the bag will turn up. And if not, as you said in an earlier post, the most precious "cargo," you and the girls, were delivered back to Texas safe and sound.

Flower Mound

Anonymous said...

Don't give up hope yet. I had friends who traveled to Europe and "lost" a bag on the way home. It took American Airlines about three weeks to find the bag, but it was eventually returned with all of the items intake and undamaged.

Renee said...

I understand your frustration with your "lost" luggage. As of today August 29, 2007 my luggage and my mother-in-law's bag has been missing for 60 days. I just spoke with an Agent at American Airlines Baggage Claim center and she said that our case has been turned over to the claims department and we should be getting a settlement in the next few weeks. She also said that our "Active" file will be closed and that they will not purge our file for several months but it by chance someone came across our bags they would send them to us. I have done some research and our lost bags to to a place in Alabama names Baggage Claim Store where our "lost" items are sold to other people. I myself do not agree with this. I feel that if our bags go to a somewhere it sould be a warehouse where we have the choice to visit and see if our bags were delivered before someone rummages through our personal items and buys them at half the cost of what we spent. All I really want is my clothes back.

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