Monday, June 30, 2008

Lee's Stolen Luggage

Here's another story for you...

Mike and I flew from Portland to Anchorage, Alaska in June of 2004, arriving at 1am on a Saturday morning. Of course, being near the solstice in Alaska, it was still very light outside. Our friends, the bride and groom-to-be, greeted us at baggage claim as we waited for our 4 bags to arrive. We picked up 3 of our bags -- the 4th Mike thought he saw but then someone else picked it up. There was another bag going around and around on the baggage conveyor belt, and each time it passed I took a close look at it because it looked so similar to mine (you can see where this is going, can't you?). Finally, we gave up waiting and reported the bag lost and left contact information. Went to our hotel to sleep for a few hours. The next day, I waited for word of my bag, which had all my cosmetics as well as a tent, sleeping bag, and other things. We were planning to leave Anchorage on Monday and drive 5 hours south to Homer and camp there.

After hearing nothing from the airport all day Saturday, we went back to the airport at 11pm. They still didn't have my bag, but they let us go into the baggage storage room to look at bags people left behind. Again, I saw the bag that looked so similar to mine that had been going around and around on the conveyor belt, and I pointed it out to the airline personnel and told her the story. The airline personnel decided to call the person whose name was on that bag. The person on the other end of the phone went to look at the bag that they had picked up, that was still sitting in the truck after they left the airport (!), and confirmed that the tag, in fact, had my name on it. They had picked up my bag by mistake. (The really weird thing about that was that the bag that was theirs, that they had left behind, was so light, it felt like there was almost nothing packed in there. Whereas mine, of course, including a tent and all, was HEAVY. How they had not noticed that obvious difference, I will never understand.) The person on the phone said they would have to ask someone about the bag, and would call back in 15 minutes. Fifteen minutes went by, then 20. The airline personnel called them again, and got their answering machine and left a very strongly worded message. I was very happy to have located my bag, but now worried about getting it back (I was not liking the prospect of going 7 days, including through a wedding, without my cosmetics bag). I told the airline personnel that I really needed the bag back as soon as possible since I was in the area on vacation and did not live there and was leaving on Monday for Homer. I said I'd even go to the person's house to pick it up! The airline personnel then decided to look up the person's address and discovered that the person lived a 4 hour drive north of Anchorage. My jaw just about fell off my face. Okay, no way was I going to go pick it up.

The person who had my bag finally called back. He didn't want to return the bag until later in the week, didn't have transportation. The airline personnel stated that he was required to bring the bag back as soon as possible and that the owner of the bag was in town on vacation and needed the bag. This went on for about 10 minutes until the person was finally told that if he didn't return the bag by the next morning, the airline would call the police and report the bag stolen. I left the airport not knowing if I would get my bag.

Thankfully the airport delivered my bag the next morning at 11am. Everything was in there. I was so glad to have it back, and in time before we headed south. Too bad for the person who had to make an 8 hour round trip to return the bag, but that only emphasizes the importance of checking bag tags to make sure you have the right one!! We proceeded to have an amazing time and loved being at our friend's wedding.

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