Lost Luggage

My uncle was able to threaten an airline with a police investigation when they lost his luggage. My wife couldn’t threaten that, which may be why her luggage still hasn’t arrived, five days after she flew from Toronto to Manchester (England, not New Hampshire).

The impression I had was that Air Transat didn’t care. They could have put the bag on the next flight on another airline. Instead they waited a couple of days to send it. And then another couple of days to deliver it.

Depending on whose statistics you believe if you search the internet on the topic, airlines lose between a half and one per cent of the bags people check when they fly. Given the popularity of air travel, that is thousands of bags every day. The airlines claim most are found and delivered to their owners within a day. That hasn’t been the experience in most cases I have been aware of.

In 2001 I went to Kenya with a friend. I was getting really nervous as it seemed to take forever for our luggage to arrive on the baggage carousel at Kenyatta Airport. My suitcase was the last one out. His had apparently not made it on the flight. It was four days before Air Canada managed to get it to him.

Last year Turkish Airlines managed to leave my luggage off my flight from Istanbul to London to connect with an Air Canada flight to Ottawa. To their credit, they knew they had made a mistake and were able to let me know as soon as my flight arrived. That way I wasn’t queueing up wondering where my suitcase was, and it was delivered to my residence the next day. Since I was at home the inconvenience was minimal. It would have been far more problematic if it was the outgoing flight, like it was for my wife this week.

The statistics, trumpeted by the airlines, tell you that only a minimal number of bags fail to make it to their destination with their owner, and fewer still are actually lost; most are just delayed. That’s small comfort when it is your bag that is missing.

Sometimes an airline losing your luggage is a lot more than an inconvenience. Such as when my uncle almost had to involve the Royal Canadian Mounted Police to find his missing suitcase.

The Embalse Nuclear Station in Argentina. I think this is the one my uncle worked on.

The Embalse Nuclear Station in Argentina. I think this is the one my uncle worked on.

Airlines tell you to place your valuables in your carry-on, just in case you luggage goes astray. That wasn’t possible for my uncle on a flight from Toronto to Buenos Aires (on Air Canada I presume) back in the early 1970s I think it was. His suitcase, full of business papers (way too much for a carry-on) went missing in transit. The airline seemed less than concerned. He, on the other hand, was very concerned. He got the airline’s attention when he informed them that he had no choice but to report them to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

My uncle was a nuclear engineer. In his bag were the contracts for a nuclear reactor Argentina was buying from Canada. Possibly the plans too, I wasn’t told the details. It was amazing though how fast the airline found his bag when they heard that. My wife unfortunately only had clothing in her bag this time, not state secrets.


One comment

  1. […] saga of my wife’s lost backpack from her summer vacation continues, as we now attempt to get compensation from Air Transat, […]

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