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It IS Pretty Complicated
Old 05-26-2010, 02:45 PM   #1
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It IS Pretty Complicated

Lena's luggage was temporarily lost on her trip home from Sweden. While waiting in line, a young woman whose luggage was also lost turns to us and complains "I don't get it, it's really not that complicated."

I was good and just said "Right" and nodded in agreement. But I was thinking that it is pretty complicated. Lena puts her luggage on an airplane in a tiny town 8,000 miles away, the luggage has to travel to the other side of the planet, and be transferred between the four different connecting flights, interleaved with 5 gazillion other pieces of luggage, and arrive in our little 10-person airport.

Luckily Lena's bag was located in a back room of the airport.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:27 PM   #2
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I agree. I fly frequently, and in over 250 trips (400+ individual flights), my bags have failed to arrive with me on exactly 6 occasions. That's tremendous. My most frequent hub is Charlotte (US Air), and I often have to dash across the airport to make a connection--and my bag still somehow gets aboard that next aircraft. When you think of all the steps involved in getting all those bags off the first plane and onto their next plane, it's amazing how quickly and accurately the baggage guys get this done.

Life must be a very frustrating experience for the jaded souls who can't appreciate the many things that go right nearly all the time.
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:38 PM   #3
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I have zero knowledge on how they pack the bags in a plane....

But, they know exactly who is on the flight and what connections you have... it is not like they open up the plane and start looking... and say 'hey Harry, here is another one going to Oxnard'....


Hmmm, never though about how many flights I have taken... must be in the 150 to 250 range... and I have had my bags lost (that I can remember) only once... but then again, I would say that about 2/3s of my flights I have not checked bags...
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Old 05-26-2010, 04:44 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TromboneAl View Post
Lena's luggage was temporarily lost on her trip home from Sweden. While waiting in line, a young woman whose luggage was also lost turns to us and complains "I don't get it, it's really not that complicated."

I was good and just said "Right" and nodded in agreement. But I was thinking that it is pretty complicated. Lena puts her luggage on an airplane in a tiny town 8,000 miles away, the luggage has to travel to the other side of the planet, and be transferred between the four different connecting flights, interleaved with 5 gazillion other pieces of luggage, and arrive in our little 10-person airport.

Luckily Lena's bag was located in a back room of the airport.
I agree. Hell, I'm amazed that you can mail a letter from Key West, FL to Point Barrow Alaska for less than 45 cents and it gets there damn-near every time in about a week!
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:12 PM   #5
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What amazes me is when you just make your connecting flight by minutes and your bag arrives !
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:16 PM   #6
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Yes, overall the percentage of luggage getting misrouted is small. But have you watched how the handlers throw them around? Sent them flying 15 ft through the air?
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Old 05-26-2010, 07:24 PM   #7
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I spent years flying (work) and quickly learned to get everything I needed for a two week trip into allowable carry-on luggage. No lost luggage, no waiting in the baggage area...straight to the taxi. Don't miss that at all.
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Old 05-26-2010, 08:57 PM   #8
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While agree they do a fairly decent job, I love this story -

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Old 05-26-2010, 09:19 PM   #9
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But, they know exactly who is on the flight and what connections you have...
Not always.

Before I took off once the flight attendant says the usual "flight xyz is about ready for take-off, if Philadelphia is not in your plans today you're on the wrong plane". A guy 2 rows in front of me jumps up and says "Philadelphia!!", then collects his carry-on and leaves.

3 years ago DW and I went to Quebec and were meeting DD and SIL who were arriving a couple of hours after us. We saw their plane arrive, and waited, looking through the glass at the arrivals area. We saw their bags appear on the belt but it was ages before they turned up to collect them. They had landed and sat for a while with the doors closed, then the crew announced they were ready for take-off to their next destination, at which point DD jumped up and said "Whoa, let us off please". They had removed their bags but forgot to let them off

I've travelled a great many times on business and the times my bags go missing is quite small, and always turn up within 24 hours, so we just make sure we have a change of clothing in our carry on bag.

Once we flew to London Gatwick with the kids and 2 of our 4 bags didn't arrive so while we reporting them the official said "I can see that they are in La Guardia, New York, we should get them here on the next flight". "How come New York, when we changed planes in Chicago", I asked. The answer cracked us up, "LGA looks a look like LGW to a myopic baggage handler".
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Old 05-26-2010, 09:34 PM   #10
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A guy goes up to the ticket counter and says: I want a flight to Seattle Washington. The agent says: OK sir give me just a second. OK got you fixed up.
The passenger says: I have two bags, I want this one to go Atlanta Ga. and the other one to go to Memphis, TN.
The agent says sir I can't do that.
The passenger says, the hell you can't, you did it last week !!!

I recently retired from 30 years working at an airport.
I did not handle bags or work for the airlines.
You would be amazed at how many bags I picked up off the tarmac and service roads that just fell off the carts.
I would look at the tags on the bags and do my best to get them to where they belonged before the flights left.
But you guys are right the handlers do a great job.
They are working so hard and are moving as fast as allowed but things do get miss placed at times. They don't even realise when something falls off.
I do think some airlines are way better than others though.
It mostly depends on if the bag handlers work for the airlines or are they just lower wage contract people. That seems to make the biggest difference.
The sad thing is that most airlines went to contract workers to be able to compete in the market.
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:15 AM   #11
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Some of them work hard, some don't. I landed at my small home airport after a ski trip and decided to wait and watch the luggage come off the plane from the gate window before going up to baggage claim. The guy in the plane started the conveyor while the woman on the ground was lollygagging and missed the first few, which dropped to the tarmac. My boot/helmet bag included.

Ever watch them load the bags? They don't set bags on the belt. The don't even toss them. They slam them down, like they've just scored a TD and are spiking a football. Not always, but more than a few times when I've watched. I'm somewhat amazed that the bags usually get on the right plane, but I'm even more amazed when anything breakable in my bag is still intact.

When you consider that overnight express mail companies do the same thing with their packages, the airlines really aren't doing anything more than that.

On another flight this year, the plane was packed and they wouldn't let anyone in the final boarding group take any kind of bag that wouldn't fit under the seat, and for whatever reason they had to check them rather than give it back to us plane-side at the destination. So my bag got a hand scrawled tag. I made sure the connecting flight/destination was correct. I had well over an hour between flights. The bag didn't make it, probably because it didn't have a scannable tag.
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:22 AM   #12
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Before I took off once the flight attendant says the usual "flight xyz is about ready for take-off, if Philadelphia is not in your plans today you're on the wrong plane". A guy 2 rows in front of me jumps up and says "Philadelphia!!", then collects his carry-on and leaves.
One time we were going to Frankfurt. About an hour into the flight a woman in the row in front of us informed a flight attendant that she was meant to be on another plane.

How could that happen? Didn't the ticketing agent check the passenger boarding pass at the gate? This was after 2001.
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Old 05-27-2010, 08:37 AM   #13
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One time we were going to Frankfurt. About an hour into the flight a woman in the row in front of us informed a flight attendant that she was meant to be on another plane.

How could that happen? Didn't the ticketing agent check the passenger boarding pass at the gate? This was after 2001.
People make mistakes. A ticketing agent must look at the boarding passes of thousands of passengers every day and 99.9% of them are boarding the right plane. If the pass is bar coded and is scanned at the gate then an "alarm" can warn the agent but, even then .....

Recently I had a friend who is a pilot visiting from England and he traveled stand by. I had driven from Baton Rouge to New Orleans to meet him but he called and said that they had switched him last minute to a Baton Rouge flight but his bags were still due to arrive in New Orleans. He was very annoyed as regulations state that bags and people should be on the same plane. Fortunately they let me pick up his bags as he had them tagged with my address and I could prove I lived there. (it was over 60 miles between the airport and where I lived in Baton Rouge).
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Old 05-27-2010, 09:20 AM   #14
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I wonder whether luggage tagged with frequent flier membership tags or the Priority Baggage tag get better treatment because I usually tag them so. Despite being thrown around and manhandled, my golf clubs still survive so many overseas trips. Quite amazing. For short trips, I travel with hand luggage. For 2N/3D trip when I know I will do no shopping, I travel only with my backpack.
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