Sunday, 18 October 2015

Where's my luggage?

A friend of mine recently flew back home. She's arrived. Her luggage is still on its way.  Reminds me of a story from the last time I traveled.

Several years ago I flew international. I checked in my luggage at my local airport. The lovely ladies at check-in took our luggage, tagged it, and off it went. "You're flying a long way today."  Yes, we are.

Wasn't the first time I'd traveled international, so I knew the routine: since we had several hops, we'd fly into the next airport, collect our luggage, check it and us in for the next flight, then twiddle our thumbs for the next several hours. Hong Kong and Narita (Japan) airports are really lovely, clean, have lounge services for coach passengers and are staffed by friendly, soft-speaking multilingual folk.

Several hours/days/years later we end up in SanFran. In contrast, American airports are noisy, loud, dirty, woefully under-serviced and Customer Service is an unknown concept.

Fifth verse, same as the first, we waited at the carousel for the luggage.  His Grace's luggage came. Their Ladyship's luggage came.  Mine....  MIA.

So I went up to the service desk. "Hello." I asked the Woman With Attitude manning the desk,"I'd like to know, where is my luggage?"

Apparently, that was the wrong question to ask. She took my luggage claim check, scanned the barcode, then proceeded to give me a really vigorous lecture about how there was no way she was going to find my luggage and bring it here, and what was I doing asking for my luggage anyway? Besides, there was nothing she could do because my luggage had already been booked onto my connecting flight and she was not going to get it back for me. Sorry, but it was already on its way to the next destination.

Apparently, "where is my luggage" is Merican for "Why is my luggage not immediately right in front of me? Gimme my #@&# luggage NOW!!!" Whereas in Strayan is means, "I'd like to know the location of my luggage, ta."

Well. Time for some Aussie mind games with someone who needs to go back to Customer Service school.  "So, is all luggage automatically transferred to the next flight?" By now His Grace and Their Ladyships had joined me.

Woman With Attitude assured me it was.

"You missed a few," I told her, handing the rest of our luggage over to her.

Then she threw a fit and tried to blame us for taking our luggage when we shouldn't have, et cetera. I was starting to regret having laid eyes on her.

By this time, her manager had noticed and came over. "What's the problem?"

She lays into him with the same attitude and level of voice she used on us, explaining to him how we'd taken (she might have used the word 'stolen') our luggage when we should have just let it go through, and so on...

Meanwhile, us Aussies are rolling our eyes. The manager saw this, shut her up, and asked us for the story.

I told him. Or rather, I started telling him when she interrupted and told me that's not what happened. Apparently, and this was news to me, I'd come over demanding where my luggage was, being real rude and a whole lotta other untruths.

To my delight, he shut her up again and told her to take a break. She stormed off.  May I never see her again.

The manager asked if I had demanded my luggage. I told him no, I simply wanted to know the location of mine. After all we had everyone else's.

He leans over the desk, peers at our destination tags and got a funny frown on his face. "All luggage intended for other destinations should have been checked through." Turns out in the US if luggage isn't at its final destination, it doesn't leave the loading dock, but is loaded directly onto the plane. This saves US Customs unnecessary inspection times in their major incoming ports like SanFran.

He takes our luggage, and gives us an apology for many, many things.

Eventually we fly out of that place and end up at our final destination. I was grateful we got to go through Customs there. I dread to think of what might have happened had we to suffer through yet another example of SanFran's hospitality.

Her Grace still loves travel. Just not to the US.

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