Our last trip to Italy was a stressful one. We were going for two weeks for our anniversary and to check out Brindisi as a place to live.
I had only ever lost my luggage once before, and it was on American Airlines flying into Cleveland to visit my sister. I don’t typically check a bag. It wasn’t too stressful, considering they had the bag for me the following morning. They were extremely nice about it too so I never thought anything of it again… until two months later.
We booked a ticket to Italy through LAX with a layover in Seattle on American Airlines. They contracted the first part of our flight to Alaska, which is great. I love Alaska Air. The problem was, we were late landing into LAX. We had 15 minutes to get to the American Airlines gate, which didn’t seem like a problem because we checked most of our luggage. We simply ran a solid mile, maybe more, and yet when we got there, they had just closed the doors. It had been 8 minutes.
If you’ve never flown before, you must know this important tidbit. Once the doors are closed, they will NOT open them for you. Even if you got there on time and THEY closed it early. So we were obviously upset, especially considering Alaska called them and told them we were booking it in their direction.
The issue they didn’t readily admit to right away was that they gave our seats away to standby passengers pre-maturely. I was angry, but whatever, right? It’s too late. So we go to a customer service rep who tells us they can’t get us on the next flight because it’s Alaska’s fault that we were late; so Alaska should pay to replace our flight. Alaska obviously disagreed because we booked through American. While this went back and forth for a while, I was getting text updates on my phone about the flight.
“Delayed 2 hours.”
What? …The plane had already been sitting on the tarmac for an hour… That means…
De-plane. They take everyone off of the flight and book everyone back in. That means those standby passengers get booted. Which means we get our seats back if we’re quick.
Except no. None of the customer service reps would help us. Finally, a lady who works for the airline comes over and says, “Complain on Facebook, twitter and whatever social media outlet you have to. They’ll get you back on the flight.” So they did.
It was another two hours before we boarded the plane. Plenty of time for my bag to make it on the plane, and yet… We arrive at our layover in London, and there is no bag. This isn’t too big of a problem because they have until the next evening to get our bag to London, or so they tell us… But it doesn’t make it. Here’s why this is a problem.
We’re frugal travelers. We booked a ticket to London because it was the cheapest ticket from the Western Coast of the United States to Europe (at the time) on Scotts Cheap Flights. Then we booked a ticket on the worst airline imaginable… Alitalia. Here’s where things get worse.
We make it on this flight with no problems, all the way to Brindisi. Our bags didn’t make it, but that’s okay. We’re told they’ll call us when our bags arrive. We get a call the next day from American Airlines asking us to rate how they handled returning our bag. We told them we still don’t have it. Radio silence.
We called Alitalia and they said, “Ah, yes! Your bag is heading to Berlin right now!” Nope. That’s a problem. We’re not in Berlin. More silence. Finally, three days later, we get a call from the airport informing us our bags have made it. Finally! No more borrowing my Mother-in-law’s clothes! Marino’s Aunt picks us up and takes us to the airport to get our bags.
We go to the help desk and no one is there. There is a sign on the window that says when people should be there… There should be someone there. Zia starts asking other employees for help, and they all basically brush her off saying “that’s not my job.”
I learned a new word that day. Scandaloso.
Finally, a woman saunters over with a sickeningly sweet expression on her face, takes her time getting into her little booth, sits down, fixes her hair, pauses for what seems like and hour and says “…yes? What do you want?”
We explain, over and over agin, and finally Marino is taken into the back to go look for the bags. They aren’t there. No one knows where the bags are. It isn’t until four days later, when my mother-in-law comes to town, that we are able to get the bags. She worked at the airport for a little while the year before, teaching employees English. She was able to get us help RIGHT away and we find out the bags had been there for a while.
If you take anything away from this story, it’s this. Don’t check your bag. Or at least shove a change of clothes or two into a backpack to bring with you on the plane.