Shanghai Shuffle

June 17, 2008

in Luggage Stories

My first trip to Shanghai was in December 2006-January 2007 and lasted two weeks. I flew on AA to and from my town to Dallas and to and from Dallas to San Francisco, then took UA to and from Shanghai. This will become relevant soon.

When I got to my local airport at some wee hour in the morning, we found it locked tight as a drum and dead silent. Luckily, we still had time to floor it to Dallas (a two-hour drive) so I could board my plane there. It turned out that my travel agent had booked the flights to and from my town to Dallas separately so my whole itinerary didn’t get cancelled in the end, which was incredibly lucky for me. The kicker was that I had checked with her the day before to make sure all of my flights were as scheduled. I have written to AA (the only carrier out of my local airport) and called the airport about this, but they pretty much said I was out of luck when it comes to a refund because I voluntarily skipped out of the flight. But had I waited for them, I would have missed all of my other flights and been just plumb out of luck.

That’s only half of it.

I got to Shanghai okay except one of my bags was missing. It turned out that UA never even got the bag. It was still in San Francisco. I finally got the bag a week into my trip and the airport even had it delivered to my hotel room door. Very nice! I had no complaints about that, but little did I know my trip was about to get much worse.

Shanghai to San Francisco went well, and then it was onward to Dallas. Well, at this time there was a huge ice storm that had grounded a lot of flights across the country. We waited in our 777 (they had “upgraded” our plane because of an overbooking; it was supposed to be a smaller plane) as a Super-80 took its time getting out of the gate because of the icy weather conditions. When I got in to the airport, we were informed that we would be staying in Dallas for at least three days. Of course, I was not allowed to reclaim my luggage for those three days even though I was willing to have to check it again when I was about to go home. So a few fellow travelers and I got shuttled to a Days Inn (a place which was a story in and of itself) and basically called our airline every morning, afternoon, and evening for flight status. I had a friend who lived 2 hours to the south of Dallas; I asked if he could come and get me because his town had not been hit by the ice, but then it flooded so that was out of the question.

I was getting very antsy by the third day, especially because I was only a two-hour drive away from home. I ended up staying five days because I was stubborn and didn’t want to take AA’s bus back (which was going on days that the Greyhounds didn’t even run because of the ice) because I had paid for a plane ticket. So, after all of that, I got home and my luggage was already there waiting for me. I didn’t know this, though, and waited at the carousel and nearly had a heart attack when it didn’t show up. Luckily I saw it when I went to the desk, but then the SOB on a power trip behind the counter would not let me have my bags despite the fact that I showed him my passport that matched the name on my luggage tags! He said that they were too busy and that I would have to come back next week or so to pick it up. Needless to say, I objected to that, and he looked very inconvenienced when I made him walk ten feet to get my luggage and another ten feet to bring it over. I understand that the weather had messed half of the country up, but I thought that was ridiculous.

That was the last time I ever flew AA and I learned an important lesson: when flying overseas, try to stick to one airline! I stuck with UA for my second trip to Shanghai that summer and everything was fine, and I will for my next trip this December for my wedding. 🙂

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Geoff April 2, 2009 at 12:35 pm

On your outbound segment you said, "had I waited for them, I would have missed all of my other flights ." Was the AA flight not there or just the airport was not open at o'dark thirty when you arrived? If there was a problem with the connection that would have prevented you from catching your flight from DFW then I would address the issue with your travel agent. Minimum connect times and all. I suspect that when you arrived in DFW you only checked in for the DFW to San Franscio flight, not the UAL flight to China. In San Fransico you had to checkin with UAL. This is not uncommon when the itinerary is broken up into individual segments and different airlines. Had your travel agent book your itinerary as one trip, i.e from your home airport to China, and not as individual trips, you bags would have been checked all the way through.

As far as your return trip adventure, I would have taken the trip. If AA had provided bus service, due to the weather, from DFW to your final destination, especially of it was only two hours away, you should have taken it. Look at section 18 on the "Conditions of Carriage" It states in black and white; "When cancellations and major delays are experienced, you will be rerouted on our next flight with available seats. If the delay or cancellation was caused by events within our control and we do not get you to your final destination on the expected arrival day, we will provide reasonable overnight accommodations, subject to availability." I t goes onto state,"or in some circumstances on another airline or some other alternative means of transportation." It seems from your post that they fulfilled both of those obligations. That you chose to wait for a flight and not take the alternative transportation is on you.


Rob April 2, 2009 at 12:40 pm

I skipped the story when I realized you weren't going to tell us how Shanghai was.

"Locked tight as a drum"? Somebody screwed up, and I'll bet it wasn't your travel agent.


Anonymous May 19, 2009 at 6:36 am

travel agent may not have been able to book it with two different airlines as one trip. the airlines need to share codes under an agreement to have your bags tagged all the way through.


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