Friday 3 April 2015

Bucharest: The other journey of a case

I remembered
Last night, I picked up a pencil and recalled from memory 11 items I had packaged into my baggage the night before for my Easter holiday.
Whilst the list was not exhaustive, I was surprised I could remember when I got each of the items, where I bought them and how much I paid for them.
Worse still, it was the feeling that I really could not put a price on losing any of the items even if I was compensated with the full cost of replacing all of them as new. There is a whole experience that goes with getting things, the time, the place, the emotion, the joy or otherwise that cannot be relived along with the wear or tear that comes with that thing being in your possession.
This is what is called sentimental value, and I do not think anything can replace that, however, something might help accept the loss.
A man and his case
That however was part of the run of emotions that engulfed me with a prospect that I might never be reunited with my luggage again.
We left home together yesterday, as I made a note of the numbers on the rotary number locks of my case and had it checked it at the airport weighing just less than 12 kilograms.
The check-in clerk tagged the case and attached a “Priority” label whilst informing me that my case would be transferred onto the connecting flight in Paris where I had a stopover for the onward leg to Bucharest.
We left Manchester, 30 minutes behind schedule and when I arrived in Paris, the transit desk said my connecting flight was also delayed and that my baggage will definitely make the connection too.
Waiting in vain
At Bucharest, I stood at the carousel for almost an hour until the last piece of luggage was taken, mine did not show and so I went looking for the Air France – KLM baggage handling company. It was there I learnt my baggage did not make my flight and that it will be put on the next plane to Bucharest. Another assurance came; it will be delivered to my hotel at night.
Eventually, I found out when I took my phone off flight-mode that I had received an SMS Text Message that my baggage did not make the flight. Though I do wonder what the “Priority” tag really means. Giving you a sense of importance at the check-in desk whilst your baggage might suffer God knows what in transit.
Lodging a complaint
I filled in a “Property Irregularity Report” (PIR), there was nothing irregular about my case, it contained my personal effects and things you were not allowed to carry as hand luggage.
The PIR has a reference, your name, details of your itinerary, a coded description of the piece of luggage and the tag number. My baggage did not arrive and the handling company appeared not to care that much about it as the lady said, my case will probably arrive in the morning. I had to calm myself down.
Since I booked my ticket through KLM on their website and then changed it with the help of a KLM Customer Service Agent, I visited their website to make a complaint where I could not find a number to call. I posted a lengthy comment on their Facebook page and also tweeted at them on the advice of my best friend.
The helpful and the unhelpful
The Facebook response was more helpful whilst the Twitter account appeared to engage me before they decided it was none of their business, because the PIR was created in the name of Air France. Now, Air France and KLM have the same parent company, they are a merger that is more than a code-sharing arrangement apart from the fact that they are core members of the SkyTeam Alliance.
It saddens me that corporates are quick to cash in on your custom but are quicker to shirk responsibility when some customer service is required of them.
However, the KLM Facebook page provided a link that allowed me keep a trace on my baggage, it showed the originally intended flight and then the rescheduled flight and the route it was taking. I was able to use that information to determine the flight had arrived in Bucharest.
On its way
About 90 minutes after the flight arrived in Bucharest, we were already in next day territory, I received an SMS Text Message and email from Air France that my baggage will be delivered to the address of the hotel I was staying at. When I filed the PIR, I also provided my home address and there was a danger if the baggage was not found in 2 days, it will return to the UK.
This morning, I went down to the hotel reception and my baggage had arrived, the rotary number lock combination had changed from what I set it to when it was checked in.
I do marvel at the wonders of technology today, the way we were able to keep tabs on my luggage whilst it appeared to be lost in transit and the way the system eventually worked to get us reunited.
Some advice
Yet, there are lessons to learn from this interesting ordeal.
·         Never place items of high sentimental value in your cargo hold luggage if you can avoid it. What you do not have to travel with, you really do not have to travel it. If in doubt, leave it out.
·         Always take out travel insurance that covers your luggage because airlines have very limited liability, even though your baggage was entrusted to their professional care. There are many hand-offs in the chain, anything could happen. Airlines will probably advise you to contact your insurance company than have you commence a compensation claim against them.
·         Never put your essential medication in your cargo hold luggage, get a doctor’s note if you have to along with your prescription and have that in your hand baggage.
·         With the restriction of fluids on flights, you might want to get travel packs for toothpaste, morning goods and cosmetics to take through security.
·         Most importantly, knowing what to do when you lose your baggage is the greatest path to peace of mind, what you know, gives less of a bother.
Now, let’s discover Bucharest.

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