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Sunday, August 15, 2010

The lost luggage saga

So the lost suitcase I mentioned earlier turns out to be anything but an isolated bit of bad luck on our part.

My parents came in a few days later on the same airline (Austrian)... and they had two of their bags opt for separate vacations.

Since landing, every day (multiple times per day) we called up the number we'd been given by Austrian Airlines and listened to the same recorded voice telling us that while the office was open, they were busy dealing with other customers, so we'd have to leave a message and someone would get back to us.

Needless to say, nobody ever called us back.

Finally we started sending emails to the address listed in our lost baggage form.  First one a day, and then several emails each day... with increasingly creative use of invective and expletives.  

At long last Zahava got an email from a woman in Israel representing Austrian Airlines (presumably because that was our point of origin) asking how to reach us by phone (we'd included our phone number in every email).  Zahava sent it, and within a few minutes the woman actually called.  In addition to  telling us our bag had so far vacationed in Amsterdam, she authorized Zahava a budget of $150 dollars to go buy some replacement clothes (which she confirmed in a follow-up email).

Many of you may not know Zahava.  Where most people would take that $150 bucks and buy a pair of shoes or a dress... she headed out on a hard-target search of every outlet store within a 4 hour radius, hell-bent on finding already discounted items, marked down several times... and on close-out.  Talbots and Old Navy were especially hard hit.  And when the dust had cleared, Zahava had an entire new wardrobe, And change left over from the $150 for accessories!

But still our wayward suitcase (and my parent's two bags) remained abroad.

It turns out that our bag was reluctant to cut short its European vacation and had made its way from Amsterdam to Athens where it was having a great time ("wish you were here dahling... mwah!").  Several attempts to send it to JFK via Olympic airways, and other carriers failed. 

My parent's suitcases were just gone.  AWOL.  Vanished.  Sorry.  No idea.

Each passing day brought a fresh lack of news.  And now my parents (who had not yet been authorized to shop-til-they-dropped) were getting, um, annoyed (understatement... have you met my mother?!).

Then last night around 8PM we got a call telling us that all three of our bags would be delivered to the family compound between midnight and 1 AM.  And so it was.  And we all lived happily ever after.

Moral of the story:  If you don't mind rewashing the same outfit for a week, you should fly Austrian Airlines whenever possible.  You might even get to buy yourself some new togs.

P.S.  We had a very short stopover in Vienna on the way here, but the day-long visit I asked your help in planning is not taking place until the homeward leg of the trip.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Posted by David Bogner on August 15, 2010 | Permalink


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Perhaps your luggage could offer you a guided tour of Vienna?

Posted by: Andy Levy-Stevenson | Aug 15, 2010 6:23:59 PM

two years ago, the four of us flew Delta from Fort Lauderdale to NY, but I was coming straight from work, so my suitcase was checked in separately. I had with me the largest (and heaviest but not overweight) suitcase and lo and behold, the suitcase did not make it to JFK. the "nice" thing about Delta is that they have a page where you can check the status of your lost luggage so the next morning we knew the suitcase was found and was going to be delivered to us before Shabbat. And indeed they did in a van with another 10 suitcases that suffered the same fate.
Since that day we made a rule for all long trips, to distribute the clothing for each of us evenly around all the suitcases, just in case.

Posted by: David S | Aug 16, 2010 2:32:53 AM

Could be worse. The airline could send your bags to the right airport and send you to the wrong airport.

This happened to me at LAX.

About 11pm, I was directed to walk out to my commuter hop on the tarmac. Outside I found two identical turboprops. Struggling with the noise, I asked the parking director (the guy with the flashlight wands) which plane was mine. He waved me to the nearer plane.

I ended up in Oxnard instead of Santa Maria.

Nice ending, though. The pretty woman in the seat next to mine drove me home.

Posted by: antares | Aug 16, 2010 3:46:21 AM

Having worked for a tour company for several years, dealing with airlines on behalf of teenagers, I have had to chase down many more wayward bags than (thankfully) I've personally had to do without. But some of the stories...oh, the stories! And the buck-passing, and the unanswered phones...you have my empathy.

Posted by: Alisha | Aug 16, 2010 11:50:08 AM

P.S. Not surprisingly, Zahava is my kind of shopper! :-)

Posted by: Alisha | Aug 16, 2010 11:51:01 AM

P.S. Not surprisingly, Zahava is my kind of shopper! :-)

Posted by: Alisha | Aug 16, 2010 11:51:01 AM

i hope they threw in some jujy fruits

Posted by: roberti | Aug 16, 2010 4:41:03 PM

Just comes to show you Dave that carry on is a great idea when you can pull it off.

Posted by: Jewish Music | Aug 16, 2010 8:00:13 PM

Just comes to show you Dave that carry on is a great idea when you can pull it off.

Posted by: Jewish Music | Aug 16, 2010 8:00:14 PM

Guess when you reside in a "compound",you can get quick service,while we peons would have to wait weeks or months.

Posted by: Ed | Aug 16, 2010 10:13:27 PM

Glad those bags finally got home OK. Your story reminded me of when She Who Must Be Obeyed took a mini-vacation in San Francisco (we were living here in Atlanta at the time) and our one suitcase ended up missing. The Delta rep was a bit sheepish when she called to inform me that our bag had been found. "Where is it?" I asked. "Frankfurt," the rep responded, with no little embarrassment.

Since we needed something to wear pending delivery of our bag, I insisted on compensation, and we got $150 so we could buy some clothing. Now, here it is over twenty-five years later, and they still give you the same measly $150!

You could probably fill weeks worth of posts with luggage horror stories...

Posted by: Elisson | Aug 16, 2010 10:22:14 PM

I have a friend who doesn't mind lost luggage. She says she usually gets a voucher for it AND luggage gets delivered to her door, saving her the shlepping....

Posted by: Baila | Aug 16, 2010 11:53:47 PM

Many years ago, you couldn't get high quality meat in Israel, or it was prohibitively expensive. So people visiting their kids in Israel would often bring one suitcase filled with frozen raw meat. El Al security in Chicago knew that they didn't have to check the suitcases with frost on the outside. You have seventy pounds of frozen meat, it will stay frozen for the twenty or so hours between packing and unpacking. Ah, but that's assuming it arrives when you arrive. Anyway, by the time we got it, it was barely fit for the dumpster cats.

Posted by: Barzilai | Aug 17, 2010 1:01:21 AM

And after all that you still plan on flying home through Austria? You're a brave man, Mr. Bogner. :)

Posted by: psachya | Aug 17, 2010 11:36:10 PM

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