Lost Luggage & Missing Ticket Counter Crew

December 9, 2009

in Luggage Stories

I would like to report my experience and concerns about what happened after Northwest flight 293 landed at 8:56pm in Little Rock, Arkansas on February 28, 2009. After waiting for our bags for more than 30 minutes I and 20-30 other passengers were told by a Northwest baggage handler at 9:40pm that there were no more bags coming. That person instructed us to go to the Northwest ticket counter to file lost baggage claims. Northwest Airlines has no lost baggage office at the Little Rock airport.

Our large group left the baggage carousel and proceeded to the NWA ticket counter. When we got to the counter no NWA employees were present. After abut 15 minutes of waiting, many passengers grew agitated and restless, and they left the line to try to find someone to help. Some mentioned that lost baggage claims must be made before a passenger leaves the airport

My wife left me in line and went to the Little Rock Airport customer care counter, and she asked the airport employee to page someone from Northwest Airlines to go to the ticket counter. That person spoke with someone by phone and reported to my wife that the Northwest employees “were cleaning the plane and would be at the ticket counter in about 10 minutes.” That was at 10:05pm. I was still standing in line at the Northwest ticket counter when my wife came back and told me what the airport customer care person had said. At that point we had all waited about 30 minutes for a Northwest employee to make an appearance, but no one came.

After about 45 minutes of waiting many passengers had left, but some passengers became so irritated that they went behind the Northwest ticket counter and began rifling through papers, using the computer, opening drawers and looking behind the ticket counter’s baggage conveyor into a room, all in an effort to get some help or perhaps vent frustration. There were Continental and US Air ticket counter people present who had to have seen this group of people breaching security but they ignored the situation.

I felt threatened and nervous about this activity, so I asked my wife to look for airport security or the police. She left the line and walked all parts of the airport that she had access to inside and out. There was a Little Rock Police Car parked at the front of the airport but no officer was in it. My wife finally contacted the same customer care person that she had spoken to earlier, and pleaded with her that there was a security breach and near riot going on at the NWA ticket counter and said “someone needs to get down there immediately.” The customer care person said that she would contact the airport manager again, and that he would contact the NWA employees who were cleaning the plane one more time and ask them to go to the counter.

I was the second person waiting in line that evening, and I finally left at 10:40pm after waiting for an hour. During that hour no NWA employees, no Little Rock police and no airport manager ever came to the counter. Some of the passengers were still rifling through things behind the counter, and one of the men when told that he might get arrested for what he was doing said that he didn’t care, and that he might break everything back there before he left.

If you want to hear first hand about this incident from someone else, then I am sure that you could question any of the 30 or so other passengers that did not receive their baggage that night who were standing in line. They and I were all passengers who were originally booked on Pinnacle flight 2452 that was cancelled earlier in the day. In fact there were two Airline employees on the same earlier flight 2452 who got rebooked onto flight 293 with the rest of us. One of those Airline employees sat in the exit row on flight 2452 and he sat in first class on flight 293. Both of these airline employees were still waiting at the ticket counter when my wife and I left at 10:40pm.

I arrived home about 11:15pm, and I tried to call NWA customer service at 1800-225-2525. I waited on hold for nearly ½ hour and finally gave up. On Sunday morning I called another number on the NWA website (800-745-9798) where I reached a real person. I briefly explained the situation and wanted to know what to do about reporting the lost checked bag. That NWA person said that I would have to go back to the airport ,which is 80 miles round trip, to fill out a lost bag claim. I asked for the telephone number for the NWA counter at Little Rock Airport and the customer service person said that she wasn’t allowed to give that number to me. I asked her to call the counter at Little Rock Airport to have someone call me. She said that she couldn’t do that either. I asked her again to please help me, and she said that without a lost bag claim number there was nothing she could do. She said, “Sir, I am in Minnesota. What do you think I can possibly do to help you retrieve your bag in Little Rock without a claim number?” With that remark I ended the call.

I received my checked bag two days later.

In conclusion I later found out that the Northwest employees that were on duty that Saturday evening were deliberately avoiding the customer service counter and chose to “clean the plane” instead. They chose to ignore the 30 or more passengers that stood in line for over an hour that evening in hopes that they would all eventually all go away.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kad December 16, 2009 at 2:14 am

Hmm. I've never lost a bag, or had a bag lost, but I think your assessment of the situation is accurate. Deliberate avoidance of customers (I doubt they were cleaning the plane though, ok?) should have resulted in several terminations.

All you needed was a ticket for a baggage claim, as did many other people.

Poor service, and little satisfaction.

UPS and Fedex can send or ship packages for me and millions of others with uncanny accuracy every day, but an airline can't handle a few tens of thousands of bags? Color me surprised.


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