Even the best designed and most modern baggage system in the world can’t compensate for incompetence and indifference. My two bags, which still have not been returned since a Palm Springs to Boston trip last week, are living proof. Oh, they were quickly found and delivered within 24 hours of my return to Boston’s Logan Airport, my destination. The problem was Delta and United coordinating at Logan.
I was returning Thursday from Palm Springs via Denver on United. Denver had a weather advisory (fog) so we encouraged to re-route on Delta through Salt Lake City. So I did and was promised my bags would be intercepted and put on the Delta flight. Of course, they weren’t. I envisioned the United baggage handler in Palm Springs making a cursory attempt to find my bags, then saying “the hell with it.”
My Delta flights were uneventful. A colleague was stuck on the Denver flight and got diverted to Durango (i.e. nowheresville, Colo.) and he had the trip home from hell. I was the lucky one. But my bags didn’t come home on Delta…they had, as I suspected, had stayed on United.
So, I called Delta, which was responsible for returning my bags. And I called. And I called. And I called. And I called. Most of the time I got some very apologetic agent in India. The bags got to Boston with no problem and sat for two days in the United baggage office where one still sits uncollected by Delta. One was delivered last night (Saturday). The bags encountered on minor turbulence going 3,000, but hit real choppy air going the final 300 yards going from the United to the Delta.
So now it’s Sunday and I’m on a trip with United, this time to Chicago. I replaced all my toiletries (security made me go through twice and buy a Ziplok bag for 35 cents to pack them). Before the flight I walked into the United baggage office and there is was – my suitcase sitting alone as if it would get all the attention in the world from United baggage personnel. It had been there for more than two days. The agent asked me if I wanted to take the bag, but the thought to of taking a bag full of dirty clothes to Chicago did not strike me as practical. Nervously, I told them to ship it home. The agent said Delta would still have to come and pick up the bag and hire the delivery service to get it home.
It might have been one hell of a confrontation if United had insisted I check my carry-on on the flight today. My policy is to check no new luggage on an airline that hasn’t returned my luggage from recent previous flights.
My wife reminded that the airlines are all about processing huge numbers of people and tons of baggage. At first, I was mad at United whose service resides deep in the septic tank. But it really was Delta’s fault which proved incapable of traveling 300 yards to nab the bag and get it home to me. My analysis? Indifference was bigger factor in this mess than incompetence.