Air France Flubs Baggage Return

August 19, 2012

in Luggage Stories

Our family went to Italy for a week. We expected that not everything would run smoothly. We had been told that in Italy, nothing works, but everything works out.

On July 31st, 2012, my wife, 8 year old daughter and I took an Air France flight to Naples, Italy, via Paris. We packed a reasonable amount of clothes – shoes, shirts, etc, nothing special, but enough for a week. Of course, you bring stuff you like, and my wife brought her full set of makeup. On arrival, our luggage didn’t make it. So we filled out the forms, and were told that it would take a few hours, but the luggage would be delivered directly to our hotel. These things happen, right?

The next day, nothing had arrived. I called, and Air France was not sure where our luggage was. After several more phone calls, they allowed us to spend 100 euros apiece to re-outfit ourselves, as they were sure it would take at least 2 days to find the baggage. I guess it was good, but things like contact lenses are difficult to buy overseas. Even if it’s easy, who wants to spend the time shopping for basic toiletries?

Time passed, and another call to Air France two days later told us that 2 of the 3 pieces had been found, and were in Paris, but would be on the next flight. Needless to say, they weren’t. Then, they told me that they would not make any further effort to get my bags to me until I filled out a 4 page form detailing the contents of each and faxed it to them. Stressed out, from memory, I completed a pretty good list. But how much is a belt worth? If I was buying a new leather belt at a department store, or how much could I get for my used one at a garage sale?

More calls, more misleading promises. I would have let it go, but when you’re using roll-on deodorant and washing your clothes in the hotel sink it’s tough not to view yourself as a victim. The follow-up call was that they were only sure that they had one bag, and the other two remained in limbo. They invited me to call back the next day.

The next day – same story – it’ll be on the next flight. I told them I didn’t believe them. In retrospect, perhaps this only angered them. But at no point did anyone from Air France call me to express any concern or regret.

After a week, we returned home, carry-ons only. We were promised that the luggage – all three items – would be, you guessed it, on the next flight. Another week passed, no sign of luggage. Air France says that their policy is to declare luggage lost at 21 days. So I don’t think they have much incentive to look between days 15 and 20, really.

Anyway, I will never take Air France again, and the whole experience has really tempered my enthusiasm for international travel.

– Steve

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Robert August 20, 2012 at 11:55 am

Lesson learned: NEVER CHECK STUFF THAT'S IMPORTANT (like contact lenses, meds, or anything else you can't live without for a day)


Robert August 20, 2012 at 11:56 am

Oh, and BTW, never check luggage, period.

Learn to travel light or pay the price you guys did.

It's a different world, newbies.


H. Edwards August 24, 2012 at 3:18 pm

I couldn't have said it better myself. I've found a way to get everything I need on carry-on. They have quite a few options on luggage that is big enough to fit everything but still be carried on. Avoid anger and a headache buy not checking luggage.


flossiesdoll August 27, 2012 at 1:58 pm

What's the big deal about roll-on deodorant?


Daniel August 28, 2012 at 9:38 pm

Next time check the rules governing SDRs – Special Drawing Rights. Airlines will tell you you may spend 100€ per person, or a maximum of 50€ per day, or some other rubbish- the reality is under European law you are allowed to spend up to 1,131 SDRs (approximately 1200€) immediately following a loss or delay of baggage on reasonable expenses including clothes, toiletries etc. Digital cameras, laptops etc are not covered under this, but 3 shirts, a suit, shoes, belt and cufflinks, would be. Note this only applies to European airlines traveling within Europe; but it makes sense to check the T&Cs anyway as the reps on the phone will frequently lie or mislead in order to reduce liability. Ref: Montreal Convention 889/2002, regulations governing liability in the event of loss, delay or damage to checked baggage,


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