The last time I saw the white corrugated cardboard box with the fragile stickers affixed to it was at US Airways check-in counter in Mexico City. My wife and I had just arrived from Acapulco with Mexicana Airways and had changed our carrier to US Airways to end our trip to Seattle via Phoenix. Once we landed in Phoenix, we were once again instructed to retrieve our checked-in luggage from the carousel. To our dismay, however, there was no sign of the duty-free white box. The friendly woman from the airport security mentioned that there is an occasional delay as baggage is checked before it is allowed to load on the next flight. She assured us that our box should be on our flight to Seattle.
When our flight arrived in Seattle, we waited as the last piece of luggage was unloaded around the carousel. TSA's official informed us it was the last piece of luggage from our plane. Unfortunately, our white cardboard box had not arrived. The Lord approached us at the U.S. Airways Luggage Claims office, which was surprisingly and conveniently right there next to the carousel. My wife and I informed the representative of our lost box and we filled out a form.
Upon arriving home, we received a phone call each day for the first week from the Central Baggage Office in Phoenix, Arizona, and kept us informed of the progress of their tracking efforts to find our lost box. We were invited to fill out the damaged or lost form we had received in Seattle and send it to them.
Ten days after the form was sent, I called the Phoenix Central Baggage Office and spoke with a baggage specialist there. They still had not received the form, but called the next day to confirm that they had received it. There was still no news about our lost box, but the trail for it was still active.
At that time, Mike Adams, the luggage specialist, had worked at US Airways for over a year, and his job involved calling customers about their lost or damaged baggage claims, coding and determining fault coding requirements. He had recently completed training for a secondary tracking program. I wanted to get some answers about the steps they are taking to find a lost piece of luggage.
"After the claim is filed," Adams said, "we use the World Tracer System (used by over 300 member companies) to look for the bag with name, address, bag type and content to see if there are any matches at hand. If there is a match and the bag sits at the terminal, two people open the bag and enter the contents of the bag into the system.All unclaimed luggage is kept for five days and then shipped to Charlotte, North Carolina. property is updated if there is a match. If the piece of luggage is not there, a secondary track is performed to check with other airlines and connections to see if the lost piece was sent elsewhere.
How long will they continue to look for a lost piece of luggage? Mike says at least four weeks unless they play catch-up due to storms, and then it takes longer.
Do luggage dealers or other employees steal luggage or boxes? "Yes," Adams admits. "There is some theft in the industry. The theft is usually by members of the Transportation Security Administration." As a result, the airlines will set embroidery operations to find the culprit (s) guilty and solve the problem. Adams revealed that in our case, the white cardboard shipping box was a red flag. Thieves are particularly focused on these topics. "To solve this problem in the future," Mike advised, "and remove the temptation, just buy a cheap suitcase and put the alcohol in." It was simple and sound advice that would have saved us a lot of headaches.
If the field is not found, how is the claim settled? Mike said that a letter with a check in the amount of our lost alcohol would probably be sent to us. He was half right. We got the letter from US Airways, but instead of a check, we received two $ 50.00 travel vouchers that were valid for one year from the date of issue.
From every experience, whether good or bad, there is something to learn. First, my wife and I have decided that we will only buy items that we can safely pack in our suitcases. Second, we will mark our bags with unique identification, such as colored stripes, tape or labels that stand out from the myriad of look suitcases. Third, we will place our names and addresses somewhere on the inside of the trunk or bag to manufacture luggage specialists such as Mike Adams & # 39; jobs much easier by reuniting lost luggage with their owners.
Following these three steps may not guarantee that you reunite with your carousel bags, but they will certainly improve the odds. Good to travel!