Harried Traveler Stressed about Lost Luggage

March 31, 2011

in Luggage Stories

Not quite a full-on “from hell” story, but almost:

I was flying from Syracuse, NY to St. Louis this past Christmas on United, with a connection in O’Hare. As you may be aware, Syracuse has snowy winters, but things weren’t too terribly bad on Dec. 23rd when I flew.

I got to the airport on time, checked my regular bag, and had my carry-on with all my socks and underwear, couple of pants and shirts, and my personal hygiene stuff. Having already flown to STL and back on several different airlines (Delta, United, and Continental) twice already that fall, I knew I’d most likely be gate-checking my main carry-on (I also had a shoulder bag with iPod, books, etc.). I’m waiting on the plane, only to find early on it’s running late. Apparently, the problem was getting it out of Chicago to begin with, don’t know why (cloudy, I guess).

I do have to make a slight digression here, and complain that Expedia is now a pain in the *** trying to figure out how much connection time you have – I swear it used to show it right up front when you selected the flights; now you have to be like one step from paying before it tells you. I point this out because I’d managed to only leave about 45 minutes to make my connection in O’Hare. And the plane is late getting to Syracuse. It finally gets in, the passengers deplane, they do the world’s quickest plane cleaning and refueling, and we board around the scheduled departure time. They also tell us that it’ll take them 15 minutes to de-ice the plane.

We finally get in the air about 35 minutes late. Mercifully the pilot makes up about 20 minutes off the scheduled flight time. After landing I get off and have to await my gate-checked bag, then make for that shuttle bus between the two United concourses in O’Hare – only bright spot was that the gate we arrived at was literally across from the shuttle bus waiting point – then wait as the bus takes FOREVER to go across the tarmac to the other concourse.

I get off the bus without rushing through the families and older people ahead of me, and darn near run down to the gate with my flight (fortunately showing as still “BOARDING” on the status boards). The gate agent is talking on the phone, and there’s a couple of people waiting, but the door is open, so I figure I might not miss it. We do get passed through, and I set my bag to be gate-checked next to the bag of a United crew member dead-heading (I think they call it that), and I get on, breathing a sigh of relief. I figure, great, I’m good, and even if my checked bag doesn’t make it, I’ve got enough stuff to last me a day or two until it catches up.

The flight is fine, and we get into St. Louis on time, and I have a pleasant chat with the older lady sitting next to me. I get off and I wait for my gate-checked bag to be put with the others. And I wait. And wait. And now all the rest are gone, and mine’s not there. One of the ground crew goes to check for me to make sure it’s not still hiding. He can’t find it. The United crewman whose bag I put mine next to gets his back, so I’m hoping it must have gotten on the plane. The ground crew guy tells me, “Well, they might have put it with the rest of the checked stuff, so you’ll want to look on the carousel.”

I make my way to the baggage carousels in STL, wondering if ANY of my luggage has made it with me. I find carousel #5 which shows for our flight. I wait by the exit from the conveyor, watching the bags come on to the carousel, and I see my CHECKED bag come out, so I grab it. I keep waiting, until nothing more is coming. I decide to go find a staff person to try to help me track it down, and as I’m walking between carousels 5 and 6, I glance over at 6 just in time to see my gate-checked bag going by.

So, to make a long story short (“TOO LATE!”), fortunately both of my bags arrived with me. And I resolved to make sure to never schedule less than an hour between connections again…

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Crocky June 12, 2011 at 10:08 pm

That's why I fly Delta instead of anything that goes through ORD. DTW and MSP are a lot more passenger-friendly and the connections are a LOT easier.


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