challenges…

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This is our suitcase accompanying us to Rome: too big for the cabin so it got a place in the big belly of the airplane – or so we thought at least.

My better half & I decided to confine ourselves to just 1 big suitcase because it’s summer (you need only light outfits!), our holiday flat had a washing machine & all the other equipment… fine! It was a flight of somewhat more than 90 min (Cologne to Rome), no stopover, no change of airlines or airplanes.

 

For the record:
When travelling long hours w/ stopovers, doing intercontinental flights etc. we always make sure to carry  cabin baggage w/ alternative outfits for 1-2 days.

 

This time we only had small backpacks w/ our communications equipment. Fine. However, after having landed in Rome we learnt that our suitcase hadn’t been on board. What’s more: it was not only our baggage that didn’t appear on the conveyor…

It turned out that quite a lot of passengers of the Cologne-Rome flight missed their baggage.

So we – all i. e. about 120-130 people (my estimation!) – queued up at „Lost & Found“ to lay hands on one of the forms for missing baggage, to fill the data in & to submit it to the poor people (2!) behind the counter who had to fill the data into the computer subsequently. (So we learnt that about 90 suitcases hadn’t been stored in the belly of our airplane, but were still lounging in Cologne airport.)

Then we proceeded to our holiday flat trusting in the announcement that our suitcase would be delivered next day.

 

For the record:
It wasn’t the 1st time that a suitcase went AWOL, but always the suitcase appeared next morning or about noon at our hotel or flat.

 

We made ourselves at home in our holiday flat, did some shopping for next day’s breakfast, had a quick dinner in the restaurant across the street, started the washing machine… it was summer: so all should be dry next morning (& it was!). We found some shampoo & shower gel in the bathroom… bought tooth brushes & toothpaste… found some TV channels in English & went finally to bed.

Next morning we waited for the suitcase. Nothing happened. About noon we phoned Rome airport (btw a very busy phone (not surprising because I think all the other people did exactly the same…)) – only to learn that no suitcases of the missing 90 (!) had appeared in Rome until now. Therefore no information available – Rome airport recommended to contact our airline.

Fortunately we were fully equipped concerning communications, however:

  • The Italian local phone number our airline presented on its website didn’t work.
  • The phone number in Germany turned out to be an „old 0180″ (high costs!) welcoming us with the statement: „Your waiting time will be 30 minutes!“. Of course we quit the call at once.
  • We made a little Twitter shit storm finally resulting in a contact, but the Twitter hotline of our airline only said that they couldn’t do anything. We should contact the „lost baggage department“.
  • The „lost baggage department“ of our airline doesn’t have any phone access, only email or snail mail. (An email resulted only in a reply assuring us that our email had arrived.)

There is a web site w/ all tracking information for lost baggage based on your tracking ID. (You get it when filling in the „Lost & Found” form.) So late afternoon the web site said that our suitcase was lost as before.

What to do?

We did some food shopping, we walked around our quarter, got some impressions of the Spanish steps & the alleyways… & decided to buy some outfits & shoes next morning as well as to stock up our toiletries. Finally we started the washing machine once more…

Next morning after some shopping (summer sandals!) we got the information that our suitcase had arrived in Rome (about noon!). So we cancelled our planned outfit shopping & hang about – finally we got a call that our suitcase should be delivered between 5 pm & 11 pm. We had a nice afternoon – then we waited… nothing. (Finally the washing machine had a new task!)

Next morning we learnt that Rome airport had been only capable of delivering about 50 suitcases the day before (honestly: I can understand this…). So now our suitcase was to be delivered this afternoon – it arrived early evening. No damages.

 

Resumée:

  • How could it happen that nobody in Cologne noticed that more than 90 suitcases hadn’t been stored in the airplane? (I can’t believe it!)
  • How could it happen that the crew on board didn’t give any information to the passengers? Or at least the airline was able to inform the passengers when arriving in Rome in the baggage area?
  • The flight started (w/ delay!) about 2 pm on Wednesday; our suitcase (as well as all the baggage – I think!) was only transported to Rome during Friday morning according to the additional baggage tag.
    Why didn’t anybody care about the baggage? Waiting 2 days until shipping to Rome?
  • Why didn’t the airline in possession of all passengers’ communications data try to give reliable information about the status? (I mean being proactive in this case!)

 

 

For the record:
If it had been only our suitcase going AWOL – ok: I’d have been able to understand the delays… however, we are talking about 90 suitcases gone AWOL!

 

Oh my God – I forgot that Thursday was Corpus Christi, a Catholic holiday in North Rhine-Westphalia (especially in a Catholic region like Cologne), one of these holidays with a full-time shutdown… Could it be…?

 

Next to the challenge of how to get the lost suitcase was the challenge how to survive w/o the suitcase. Ok – we had all our communications equipment in our backpacks as well as all travel documents & travel guides. So we – at least – had no problem to do phone calls, access web sites, send emails, twittering etc.

Each of us had only 1 outfit, but there was the washing machine… So we managed to present us in clean outfits each morning. Some basic shopping provided us w/ basic toiletries – inevitable for a warm/hot summer day.

The only drawback was the lack of reliable information. So we couldn’t start any extensive excursion into Rome… always waiting for the missing baggage.

 

For the record:
Another outcome of this „challenge“ is our current discussion about re-organisation of our travel equipment. We think of supplying ourselves w/ cabin baggage (max allowed size – like the one we’ve already got). Unfortunately most of the time we pack too much outfits – so in future we’ll minimize our outfits to the need. (In case of emergency you may always buy something wherever you travel!)
(So only the challenge concerning the toiletries (size & quantities strongly limited in cabin!) has to be met!)

 

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