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Directly From Me to You, Get Your Popcorn and Soda And Your Spare Underware:American Airlines Baggage Mess – iReport.com

Posted on July 31, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Howdy air traveler another day in the life of your travel these days. Below is what I left as a comment on the USA Today article on this problem. Enjoy! (This awesome video is at the bottom of this page and the guy did a great job narrating for you.)

(A short disclaimer on this video: Although American Airlines is the airline in the spotlight for this major problem, I want to let you know as I have written this in my book as well that it is quite common for the “Airport Authority” to own the baggage moving equipment and not the airline. In many airports the airlines lease this from the airport in their monthly fees. I am not sure if this is the case with AA at JFK or not. The airlines like their customers end up paying the price for something that is out of their control.)

My friend sent me a video of this luggage mess last night that a passenger took at JFK. She knew I would be interested since I am the author of The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage and a former system manager for baggage services and veteran with the airlines for almost 20 years.
See folks you do not need weather or even natural disasters to cause this kind of chaos for the air traveler and your luggage. It’s what the airlines are not telling their customers who have faith that if they leave and go ahead to their destination without their luggage, chances are exceptionally high that the customer will not see their luggage on the next flight or even the next day!! This happened not so long ago in Orlando and many thousands of bags did not travel with their customers either, I was there and saw the mess that outdated baggage equipment can cause and does cause every day around the country.

What you have now is a logistical nightmare when there are this many bags that have to be processed by airline workers at one time. Once you identify a bag and its destination or “When” you have to get it on the correct flight and the agents on the other end at your destination have to then process the bag, set up delivery with usually a private company which operates on their own schedule and availability for delivery of bags.

Now lets say the customer is traveling with an old name tag on their luggage (believe me this happens all the time) Now the airline is trying to process a bag for a person that may not exist with old contact information. What about the bags that are tagged with the wrong bag tag and goes to another destination than the owner of the bag.

Airlines have limited staff to handle this mess. I have seen this kind of mess happen from one snow storm and it usually takes a week to process all the bags for all the customers and still you end up with bags that you cannot find owners to.

This is just a small sample of what can and will go wrong for many of these travelers who leave without their luggage. I am also pretty sure the airline is not telling their customer what they are entitled to when luggage goes missing. A false promise of a bag arriving on the next flight or the next day during this kind of mess is not a good thing and I would hope the customers are being told EVERYTHING they need to know by the airline but then I am an optimist and I know how things usually end up for the unsuspecting traveler.

What the airlines should do that charge fees for checked luggage is simple. By refunding the new fee for every bag mishandled that was charged a fee would take HUGE chunks of potential profits out of the airline’s revenue and would force airline executives to place increased emphasis on improving their luggage handling performance. But the airlines have made the bold comment that even if they mishandle your luggage, they will NOT refund the new checked baggage fee!

To me that is an unbelievable statement to make when luggage handling has been on the decline for many years in a row and as Congress said in 2006 when they addressed the increasing problems of mishandled luggage with the ATA (Air Transportation Association) Congress concluded “we are sympathetic to the problem but it is clear that there is no help on the way.”

And that folks is why I wrote my book for you the air travelers. I would love travelers who are directly impacted by this to contact me through my website so I can hear their story and possibly add it to my website so others can hear their experience. I will not stop working until you the traveler leave and arrive with your luggage in hand, intact, with all the contents you packed! Safe travels to you always.

Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

 

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

 

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Delta Today Announced it is Doubling The Fee For A Second Checked Bag, OUCH!!

Posted on July 30, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Just a quick note today to keep you informed for your travels. Delta Air Lines is raising its fee for checking a second bag from $25 to $50 and is also raising fees for bags weighing more than 50 pounds and special items, including surfboards. Delta does not currently charge for your first checked bag.

What does this mean for you? I have said it in the past and my prediction has come to pass with these fees for luggage. When a major carrier like Delta sets a new bar for fees for your checked luggage, this usually is followed by other carriers even the smaller carriers. When the “big boys” do this, it usually makes the path safe for others to follow so beware and ask questions before you travel.

A Delta spokesperson said “this is still a good value as opposed to shipping your bag with a luggage shipping service.” The difference is this, you have a few more gaurantees with a luggage shipping service than you do with the airlines who are consitently on the decline with their luggage handling performance. And lets also throw this reminder out there again, the airlines blodly state they will not refund the fee you pay for your checked luggage regardless if they mishandle your luggage in any way. It may be cheaper to pay the airlines but you are certainly at greater risk in my opinion and according to the statistics of which many I have posted on my website at www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

The choice is always yours but educate yourself before you become another statistic of the declining airline luggage handling process. How much can you afford to lose?

Safe travels to you always,

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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My Cruise is in the Bag Baby, But Where is my Luggage? Oh #!%!!! it is Formal Night Tonight!!

Posted on July 23, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

How are all you brave air travelers doing today? I hope you are well amidst all the new added baggage fees from the airlines, fuller flights, less flight options, oh yeah, lets not forget many airlines are now charging us to mishandle our luggage on top of the stress and chaos of air travel in today’s challenging world.

So lets talk about your cruise and what happens when you arrive to your ship for your departure but your luggage does not. If you think you are out of the woods and this is a simple fix my friend, think again, this is a mess and your challenges have just begun. Over my years as system manager of baggage services I helped more air/cruise travelers with this very real problem that is a spin-off from the continuing decline of luggage handling. Chances are this may have happened to you or someone you know or will happen at some point if you fly and cruise.

First lets address your first steps you must take to protect yourself, I will then address how the airlines will handle this and what your rights are that you MUST know because the airlines don’t always spell out your options to you. I will then address how this can be a very complicated process for the airline to finally get your luggage with you at one of your ships ports of call.

  • When you arrive to the airport and your luggage did not arrive with you, you MUST file a luggage claim with the airline you arrived to your final destination on. This rule applies regardless if the final carrier was responsible for the delay, loss, damage, etc. of your luggage, or if you were rerouted to another carrier from your original itinerary etc. DO not fall victim to the airline baggage agent who tells you otherwise, they are just passing the buck with you and you will certainly be coming back to see them in the end but now 10 times more frustrated and angry.
  • Provide the airline representative with your cruise information, departure time of the ship, ports of call, dates of arrival and departure, your immediate contact information, ships contact information. Also ask the airline representative for their detailed plan to reunite you with your luggage in the event your ship leaves before they can get your luggage to the ship at your departure point.
  • Provide the baggage rep with detailed information about your missing luggage i.e. who is the name of the person on the luggage ID tags affixed to the luggage? What brand and color is the luggage? What type of bag is it? Look at the IATA Baggage chart to identify the bag type that most closely matches your type of missing luggage. What are the characteristics that would make your luggage stand out? Be detailed and accurate in providing information to the airline rep, doing so will only help the airline baggage rep help you.
  • Ask the airline representative for a complete print out of their plan so you have all the details for your ship’s crew as the ship crew will need to know so they can begin their process to work with vendors to retrieve your luggage if it arrives at one of the ships ports of call.  
  • Cruise ships crew members help many of their guests with lost luggage problems just like you so they will need this information to help them help you.
  • Ask the airline representative what their hours of operation are at the airport you arrived to without your luggage. Many times a baggage office is unmanned much of the day and the phones go to voice mail which can be very frustrating for you or your ships crew if they are in need to talk to an airline rep. Make sure you ask for either the ticket counter phone number which is almost always manned during hours of operation AND ask for the airlines station manager’s direct phone number. Station managers tend to check their messages often and will contact the appropriate airline rep to have them contact you, or you may hear from the airline manager them self. (That is what I use to do, call my customers and take care of them) Also ask for email addresses as cruise ships have email access available to you in the event you do not have cell phone signal while cruising, you most certainly can access the ships email station to then access your personal email from anywhere so email addresses is critically important as this will provide you with a REAL option for communication with your air carrier and will also save you time. You can ask for the airlines local email address for the baggage service office, the supervisor, the GM, and I would also ask for  the Central Baggage Service email as well. Make copies and keep all your records of email attempts and any other attempts to contact the airline during your ordeal.

 

Now that you have all this information, what about formal night for the first nights dinner on your cruise ship? Swim suits, shorts, tank tops, t-shirts, sandals, etc. Your situation you are now facing is what I write in my book about being considered a  grey area for the airlines and lost, delayed, damaged, luggage and cruising. Let me explain for you. Even though airlines are fighting for survival, they still want or should want to retain you as a customer so you will fly them again and tell your friends to fly them as well.

Ask the airline rep at your arrival airport before you leave for your ship, what are they going to do for you monetarily, seeing that they did not get your luggage to your destination and now you are facing a HUGE inconvenience for the first day or two of your cruise. My guess is from a baggage rep you will be told the usual pitch which is true and standard but will go something like this, “Mr. Smith, we are not able to offer you any compensation within the first 24 hours of your luggage being delayed but if the bag or bags do not arrive by tomorrow, you are entitled to spend up to $25.00 per day on toiletries, etc. but you must save your receipts for reimbursement later” This is standard so expect to hear it from the airline rep.

At this point, if you receive the “Standard Answer” ask to speak to the airlines General Manager at your location or a supervisor. Ask “Courteously” for an allowance that is REASONABLE for your immediate needs. Such as $250.00. You can generally purchase a nice pair of pants, dress shirt, shoes, etc. to tide you over until your luggage arrives with you. The airlines understand a reasonable request for reasonable circumstances. If you can get by with less, then ask for less but the key is to be polite, professional, and reasonable and you probably will get what you are asking for. Make sure you write down and document the names of all airline reps you speak to especially when given authorization to spend money.

Make sure the airline rep documents this in your claim record and make sure you save all your receipts for any items purchased as the refund to you will be processed and approved by the airline’s General Manager at your airport destination or the Central Baggage Service Manager for the airline and this is not negotiable.

If the airline GM at your location or a supervisor denies you this, immediately ask to speak to the Central Baggage Services Manager as it is this person who knows their job best and usually has the final decision on this sort of additional compensation.

I ought to know as I did this for many of my former customers and it is fair considering the circumstances at hand. In the event your luggage does not arrive in a day or two, then I would ask for and get permission for additional compensation to be refunded later, usually after a 30-45 day claims process.

DO NOT PURCHASE ANYTHING without permission and expect full compensation back from the airline. You may find yourself coming up short on monetary reimbursement if you do this.

Now the challenge is for the airline to find your luggage and now reroute it on another airline to your cruise port or ports of call depending on how long it takes them to find your luggage and get it to you.  This is a challenge none the less and I have seen bags arrive at ports and sit there undelivered even while the ship is in port. The ship leaves and your luggage was not far from you but we are now dealing with different cultures and priorities and most of the time the priorities are not the same as yours. So now the airline has to get the bag from that port and have a second or third party make an effort to get your luggage to your next port. Can you see the complexity of this mess, the domino affect has now begun. I have seen this sort of thing turn into a nightmare for my customers. Remember the worse the nightmare for the airline’s customer, the more you have the right to demand compensation and when these things happen compensation is easier to obtain from the air carrier.

So how can you prevent much of this from ever causing you such an inconvenience when taking a cruise? Easy, plan ahead a little and prepare for the worse. Most cruisers are partying before their flight leaves their home airport, the shorts are on, the vacation has begun. 

Wear a set of your formal clothing on the flight as if your going for a business meeting or a nice pair of pants, skirt, shirts, shoes etc. Something you could wear for a dinner on your ship. Pack your sandals, swim suit etc. in a carry-on bag. Now you are pretty much prepared when bad things happen to your luggage and the luggage handling process is on the decline so you have to become more savvy when traveling by air. Plan a bit more even if it means not wearing your shorts on your flight to your cruise departure city. A little discomfort can save you a great deal of hassle in the long run. Be creative but you can do it. An ounce of prevention can save you major headaches and loss of valuable time, worry, stress and more. 

Simply do what I did with my family a while back when we flew from FL to Vancouver B.C. and took a 7 day cruise to Alaska; we all had 1 carry-on bag per person with enough mix and match clothes to take the entire cruise and have all the clothing we needed. It worked out fine for us and none of us suffered for it. We never had to check a bag and never worried about it.

Just keep in mind that when you face luggage problems and don’t know where to turn,  that is where I come in, you can simply email me through my website and get free advice from me that can help you. Cruising is an awesome experience and I can’t wait to take my next cruise. Enjoy and have a great time!!!

Safe travels to you and yours,

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Luggage “Cops” Will Be Watching You!

Posted on June 17, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Breaking news air travelers!! Just announced today that American and United Airlines will now be paying their own employees to stand at the entrance to security check points to “Strictly Enforce” Carry-on Luggage. (Remember as I have stated before, when the big carriers do this, the other carriers tend to follow suit.)

With the new checked baggage fees imposed, the airlines are going to make sure they collect every fee they can for your bags that you have to check. So what does this mean to you?

If you are one of the travelers in their sights at security check point and they pull you out of line, you will have to return to their ticket counter to check and pay for the additional bags in question. Talk about increased frustrations on your part having to go through the chaos twice and then get back into the security line only to snear at the face of the person who just cost you another $25 bucks and then having them smile and tell you to have a pleasant flight :^(

Remember if this happens to you, make sure you remove any valuables that are not covered under the airlines “Contract of Carriage” a list which is already in my bookThe Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage written specifically to help you.

The security check point is not the place to become unruly either nor is there ever a place for that behavior in the airport so prepare yourself mentally and plan accordingly. You might get away with an extra tote as a carry-on bag on one leg of your travel but then only to have another agent at another airport force you to pay the money to check it!

When things like this come into play such as the new checked baggage fee, you WILL find inconsistency from one location to the next so prepare for that as well.

Prepare for a very new experience to only add to your already frustrating experience with traveling by air these days. The stage is set and I can see the storm of your frustrations building off in the distance and if we were talking weather, I would run for the basement………….

Oh, one last thing as a reminder, the airlines are charging you and keeping the fee for your checked luggage even if your luggage is delayed, lost, damaged, or pilfered.  “Now have a nice flight and remember we value you as our customer………………………” I am not buying it are you?

Best Travels to you and yours always,

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Lemmings and Checked and Carry-on Luggage? The choice is yours!!

Posted on June 15, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Your luggage and the Lemming. The Lemming is a rodent known for following the leader even to their death (Sounds Extreme? The consequenses are extreme for your checked and carry-on luggage and your reason for traveling! Read on.) Due to their association with this odd behaviour, lemming suicide is a frequently-used metaphor in reference to people who go along unquestioningly with popular opinion, with potentially dangerous (loss or theft of medications, business documents, or personal belongings)  or negative affects to their reason for being or in this case traveling by air today with your checked or carry-on luggage.

As I mentioned before in a previous post, when American Airlines imposed the new fee of $15.00 to check your first bag for a flight, my prediction was that other airlines would soon jump on board with the new fee and today this has become a reality. United Airlines and US Airways both announced they would follow suit. This is only the beginning for increased checked baggage fees for you the air travelers. When a major airline gets away with the initial attempt  to impose a new fee other airlines even the smaller ones  will follow and my prediction has become a reality. Even Midwest Airlines known as the “Best Domestic Airline” many years in a row has now added the new luggage fee for the second checked bag but not yet the first  (But I feel it coming.) This is an airline (One of the best in the industry and if you have not heard of them, check them out you might be amazed when you fly on them) that always followed the beat of its own drum but now has no problem following what the other carriers are doing for reasons of survival. You see folks, it is survival time and only the strongest airlines can survive and there are not many finacially strong airlines (meaning cash reserves in the bank) that can hold out very long before they are gone or become absorbed by another carrier.  

Please do not follow the lemmings and “Demand” your rights as an air travel consumer? This is your money, your reason for traveling, your property but like I have said before, the airlines need to held accountable for the increases of delayed, lost, pilfered, and damaged bags that has spiked dramatically over the years since 2001 and folks this is your personal property and reason for traveling by air. Now is the time to stand up for yourself. I have offered you advice in the past on what you can do but it is up to you to take preventative measures for you self now.

Charge me the money but improve your luggage handling performance; drive improvement we all know that the airlines are being crushed by the HIGH fuel prices and many hard working airline employees are losing their jobs after many years of impeccable service and they are reaching out for additional ways to bring in new untapped revenue opportunities and your luggage has become a great opportunity for additional income but then the airlines should become accountable for your Luggage handling performance.

The airlines are so brasen that they state clearly if we delay, lose, damage, or pilferage your luggage, you will still pay the new fee and we will not refund it no matter what. This is outrageous to me and it should be to you. Make them earn the money they are now charging you. If you choose not to do anything about it then you really have nothing to say about it when it happens to you.

Best Wishes for what ever reason you are traveling.

Scott T. Mueller

Author: The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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How do Airlines Improve Luggage Handling? Simple and it’s Proven, I Will Explain. Justice is Your Right as an Air Travel Consumer, Demand it Now!

Posted on June 5, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

We all understand the airlines are in rough shape and we know the fuel costs are crippling many airlines, many people will be put out of work because of it and I wish them well. Just hanging in there in a industry that is so volatile for so many years is a testament to their desire to do what they love doing and to serve you the customer. Trust me, working in the airline industry gets into your blood and the transition out to something less exciting is a tough one.

So the airlines are now charging you to check your bags because it is an additional way to create revenue for a struggling industry. I understand it, I don’t agree with it but would agree with it if the airlines guarantee you that your luggage arrives to your destination when you do!!!

This is the part that really ticks me off, you are paying more money for a baggage handling process that has shown no improvement for many years now. More than 8 Million bags were mishandled worldwide in 2007 (42.5 Million) than the year before. Your bags are at risk as is your entire reason for traveling yet the airlines have vehemently stated they will charge you the fee for checking your luggage but will not refund that fee even if they mishandle your luggage. This is outrageous to me and it should be to you!

Take a stand, contact your congressman or write to the airline executives and tell them that if they mishandle, delay, damage, pilfer or lose your bag, the fee for checking it is automatically refunded immediately or they can offer you a free voucher for checking your next bag, or do not charge you to check your bag on your return flight. These are some options available to the industry executives to do for you when they fail to handle your luggage properly . Trust me I have never seen a customer come out on the winning end of a mishandled bag scenario.

Doing this would put pressure on the airlines and force the airline executives to focus more on the improvement of their luggage failures which are dramatically increasing year after year. Who pays the price for their incompetence? You do. Baggage is the forgotten entity in senior management yet has increased in worldwide costs from $1.6 Billion in 2004 to exceeding $3.87 Billion in 2006, I have not seen the latest stats on this for 2007 but i guarantee you it has increased even more. Think about this?? The industry experts are saying that world airlines this year will lose an estimated $6.1 Billion dollars this year. Why do people focus on that but not on the billions of dollars being wasted on poor baggage handling. What does your bag mean to you in the purpose of your travel? I bet it means allot and it should to the airlines as well.

So how do the airlines begin to improve luggage handling for you and the purpose of your travel? It’s proven and it works!

  • To begin to fix a problem you need to talk about it and focus on it.
  • Too many luggage handlers view luggage as nothing more than a bag, a hassle and a job, I know I was a luggage handler at one time many years ago but one who cared very much even then.
  • Put the human and customer factor and your ultimate travel experience and attach it to the bag.
  • A person/customer is part of the bag as one they are not separate identities, what happens to a bag also happens to the customer in the form of lost  time, money, business, frustration and more.
  • Meet with all new hire groups regardless of the job they are hired to do, meet with all current ramp (Baggage handlers) and ticket counter agents and do this with every group in their company orientation or through a series of meetings with current staff and do it continuosly.
  • Tell the stories of those customers you have helped with their luggage woes and  what the airlines baggage mishandling caused or cost the customer attached to the bag.
  • Explain the process to your employees for settling a baggage claim.
  • Talk about the cost to the airline, customers and what eliminating or greatly reducing the baggage associated costs would mean to the airlines bottom line and survival.
  • By putting a face and an experience to the bag itself creates the emotional ties of what a bag means to the customer and the outcome of their travel.
  • Reward baggage handling improvement with insentives to win a trophy to display to that stations customers showing them that the employees there know the value of their luggage. Offer a certificate showing that mishandled luggage goals were met or exceeded and stations can frame it and display it to their customers. Offer a station feast for the station with the most improvement in luggage mishandle reductions.
  • People like rewards and they work hard to get them. Employees who care about the rewards and recognition get on their own team members to make sure they do their best.
  • Now watch the luggage performance greatly improve and your travel experience will benefit for it.

Folks, I guarantee this works and with very little cost or effort to improve the handling of your luggage. I did this with my own former airline. People I spoke to in orientation a year ago would see me in the airport or a hallway and stop me to tell me what a difference I made by sharing your experiences with them and also what they personally do to take better care of your luggage. My former airline went to #1 in the industry domestically for the least number of baggage mishandles and stayed there year after year.

Make them earn the new fee! In the end it will be worth it and you will save money, and that folks I guarantee. The choice is up to you, do what you always do and get what you have always gotten and then don’t complain when your travel plans abruptly change because your luggage did not make it with you. The choice is yours. I cannot be anymore clear on what action you and the airlines need to take now! Blessings and safe travels always.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

scott@theemptycarousel.com

 

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Carry-on luggage and the savvy traveler, are you at risk? You bet you are!

Posted on June 3, 2008. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Could this happen to you?

As a former system manager of baggage services for more than 50 cities, author, consultant to air travelers, speaker, and veteran of the airlines for almost 20 years, I can assure you your attempts to carry your luggage on board a flight is not an end all cure all anymore to your luggage woes. Are you at risk? You bet you are!

Carry-on bags are fast becoming a risk no less than checking your luggage with your valuables. Let me explain.

So you say you are a savvy traveler?  I have helped many a savvy “self proclaimed” traveler who found themselves in a situation of luggage perils and losses.

The added baggage fee that is now being imposed by most airlines is only going to complicate an already frustrating problem of loss, damage, delay, and pilferage of your luggage and the entire air traveling experience in today’s world.

You will see longer waits in check-in lines due to the processing of the checked baggage fees by credit card or cash, heated arguments in the fairness of the new fee and why as your customer I should not have to pay this fee. I can see the mayhem now, can you?

More and more un-savvy travelers or once a year travelers will be packing bags full to try to carry-on and avoid the checked baggage fees.

Next you will see the airlines charge a fee if you want to board before everyone else (I think some airlines are already offering this option) as overhead space will now become a baggage real estate commodity rather than a perk for savvy travelers.

More and more of you will have your carry-on bags taken from you by irritated, underpaid, overworked, airline crews who deal with an irritated traveling public and who probably received a note in their work mailbox announcing another lost benefit or a pay cut that day.

Weight and balance folks, ever hear of it? How does it impact you and your bags? Airlines are talking about reinstating the turbo prop aircraft as opposed to the newer RJ’s (regional jets) some of you have seen come into replace turbo prop aircraft in the recent past. Why you ask? The turbo prop aircraft is more fuel efficient than the RJ yet this problem still affects RJ’s and all aircraft regardless of size.

This is relevant to you because in the recent years do you remember the crash of the commuter flight in the Carolinas where 19 passengers and crew of 3 lost their lives? The investigation into the cause of the crash determined the aircraft was overweight and the weight and balance was off. This prompted the FAA to impose a new rule for bag weight documenting for all flights. This is why every bag is now weighed upon check-in and documented.

Any aircraft has to be within weight and balance limits. Let’s put this into perspective for you. Weight and balance of an aircraft is like a teeter totter if you remember as a kid. We all tried to balance our weight so the board stayed even and we did not have to sit high up in the air while our obnoxious friend kept us in high up limbo because he or she had a few pound advantages over us making them tail heavy…..

Airplanes are the same; they have to be balanced for all things to work on take-off.

More and more travelers are trying to carry their bags on jet and commuter flights (large jets do have more capacity than small aircraft) and the trend has now turned to the airlines bumping bags to accommodate paying customers with a seat and “promise” to send your bag on the next flight to reunite it with you at your destination but they do not tell you when the next flight to accommodate your bag will be.

With fuller flights on commuter aircraft these days, I have seen bags sit in your departure city for days before a flight came along with fewer passengers than bags and now your bag can be accommodated well after you have been at your destination without your bag.

The reality of the problem is to understand all that YOU CAN DO to protect yourself and how? This is where I come in. I am an expert on this subject and the first in my industry to realize that if travelers are truly educated with the inside knowledge on how to protect themselves and their luggage, then and only then can you become a truly savvy air travel consumer. 

So what should you do to protect yourself if this happens to you and it will in time if you travel by air?

You can remove your valuables from your bag if there is time to do so, if not, ask the flight attendant for their name and also ask that the gate agent put a comment in your PNR or personal name record in the computer stating that you were forced to check your carry-on against your will and ask for a printed copy of this for your records, it only takes a minute to do this. Do this with calmness and resolve in your voice as not to be labeled an unruly passenger to only become a target for the airport police and possibly be detained for questioning.

Be prepared and have a plan to protect yourself and your property. Doing the above will provide you with a possible case in the eyes of the CBS manager (Central baggage services manager) who will be in charge of compensating you for your losses. Doing this can also give you leverage in a court of law. Yet no guarantees apply. Prepare yourself for the scenario when you face it and forget about if I face it. No longer is it a question of will this happen to me? The reality is what I should do when it DOES happen to me.

If you really need your bag and your belongings in tact when you arrive to your destination, ship it via FedEx, UPS, DHL, or the U.S. Postal service and pay the price then and not after you arrive to our destination or home again.

I hope you find this information valuable to your travel in today’s complicated and frustrating world of air travel. But make no mistake, do travel and make the best of your reason for traveling, just be safe and protect the very essence of your reason for traveling.

Keep in mind, my mission is to help you the air traveler with this growing problem and I will answer your luggage question for free through my website at scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

May you and your bags always end up in the same destination at the same time and both in tact and happy, sigh, you can now enjoy being one of the few travelers who made it to your higher purpose, what’s that? Oh #@%!*%# now I have to go back from hence I came and face the same complicated, irritating challenge! Darn!!

Scott T. Mueller
Author, The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

www.TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Air Travelers, Summer is Upon us. What Should You Safely Pack in Your Checked or Carry-on Luggage For Your Long Awaited Vacation? An Excerpt From Chapter 2 of My Book The Empty Carousel Will Guide You!

Posted on May 13, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Howdy fellow air travelers and vacationers who no doubt will be heading out to warm destinations especially after the brutal winter and severe weather many of you have experienced this past Winter and Spring. First I would like to take a moment to think of all the people who have suffered losses during these terrible spring storms recently in the U.S. not to mention the devastating events which have recently happened over seas. You and they are all in my thoughts and prayers as I sit and face another uncertain hurricane season here in what is now sunny hot, fire stricken with more losses of property happening as I write this. WOW what is going on in the world? I guess some idiots thought it would be funny and caused these fires in  Florida that have already claimed more than 100 homes and forced so many into an uncertain future with losses that cannot be replaced.

As mentioned above in this blog’s title, what do the airlines and TSA cover in your checked or carry-on luggage in the event your luggage suffers, loss, damage, or pilferage when you travel this summer? Well the easiest way to answer this question for you is to list all or most of the items as listed in the airline’s Contract of Carriage which states what they do not cover  which is certainly more than what they do cover. The problem is by the time you travel, you have not seen this information and most have no idea of the mistakes they are making when packing their luggage.

As the airlines state: The following is a list of what airlines will not cover in checked  luggage with or without the knowledge of the airline. Carry-on luggage is considered in the possession of the owner so airlines will not cover any of these listed contents in your carry-on luggage either. Even if they force you to check your carry-on bag due to lack of overhead storage space in the aircraft cabin, your carry-on bag is now subject to the same rules as if you checked your bag at the counter.

  • irreplaceable items
  • One-of-a-kind items
  • Money
  • Negotiable papers
  • Jewelry
  • Securities
  • Precious Metals
  • Business documents
  • Software and electronically stored data
  • Books
  • Manuscripts
  • Publications
  • Medications
  • Silverware
  • Keys
  • Artifacts and antiques
  • Paintings and other works of art
  • Samples
  • Photographic and electronic equipment (which includes PDA’s computers, camcorders, and digital cameras)
  • Animals
  • Fragile articles
  • And other similar valuable items and commercial effects.

As a summary of the items listed above, the only items generally covered to any extent in your luggage is clothing, toiletries, cosmetics, linens such as towels, sheets, pillow covers. If you have a doubt and are thinking about packing something, I would suggest carrying it on or checking with me or your airline before you do check  the item.

Expect another very busy summer travel season which will no less suffer more of the same problems from the past summer i.e. delays, weather, cancellations, crowded flights, and more. Plan for the worst and hope for the best. You can always email me for free advice through my website at any time and I will do my best to help you http://TheEmptyCarousel.com This is just a small part of the information my book will provide you to help you make sense of this system of unknown obstacles for you and your luggage.

Also remember that the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) adopted from the airlines pretty much the same rules covering what they will pay you for lost, stolen, or damaged  items in your luggage as well.

One thing to keep in perspective is my recent blog regarding TSA theft and the report that they released recently stating that over 42,000 travelers in the last 3 years reported items missing from their luggage at a cost exceeding 30 million dollars. TSA calls this a small number of travelers opposed to the number of bags they process each year.  Let me ask you this, since most of the items claimed as missing forever are not covered by the TSA or airlines, who do you think had to replace the missing items valued at over 30 million dollars????? Your right if you guested the air traveler who suffered the loss. With Fuel and food costs skyrocketing out of control, how much more unnecessary financial woes are you willing to accept in your life?

If the TSA had to repay the 30 million dollars plus cost of the alleged missing items out of their pockets, I highly doubt they would be calling this report insignificant or small!!

One of your losses is too many for me.

I hope you find this helpful and please pass this along to your friends, families, co-workers and anyone who you think would benefit from this post.

Happy travels to you and yours and may your luggage always arrive with you and intact.

Best Regards,

Scott

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

http://TheEmptyCarousel.com

Scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Theft of Your Luggage at the Baggage Carousel! See This Video for Yourself on This Topic from CW 11 News “Fact Finders” Report with Emmy Award Winning Reporter Peter Thorne’s Interview With Me

Posted on May 8, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized |

Air Travelers, you have seen my blog on “Security of Your Luggage at the Baggage Carousel” now see for yourself what reporter Peter Thorne found regarding your property being at risk.  I commend Peter and the entire gang at CW 11 News for bringing this story to your attention; they did a great job on this report because it matters to you. Thanks CW 11 News in NY and Peter!! 

Here is the link and please do pass this along to your friends, business colleagues, and family so everyone is aware of this problem.  Why the airlines do not want to talk about this is amazing to me, after all when your bag is stolen, the airlines pay your claim minus depreciation of the value of your contents of the bag if they even cover everything you had in your bag! Who pays the ultimate price? You do.  Click on the story with the roller bag and Enjoy.

http://cw11.trb.com/news/local/eveningnews/wpix-factfinderhome,0,6551865.htmlstory

Best Travels to you,

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

http://TheEmptyCarousel.com

scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

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Almost 5 Million Travelers Stood Facing an Empty Baggage Carousel in 2007, Imagine The Entire City of Los Angeles Deserted!

Posted on May 8, 2008. Filed under: Travel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

Your One-Of-A-Kind Air Travel Luggage Guide

Putting this problem into perspective for you; 5 Million people is more than the entire city limit population  of Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, Phoenix, San Antonio, Dallas, and San Jose (Not total of all cities combined but populations of each city listed according to the U.S. Census Bureau is less than number of travelers affected by mishandled luggage in 2007).

Imagine those cities completely vacant; where did all the people go, where is Oprah? (Well Oprah probably does not fly commercial airlines so we won’t count her) But all the other equally important people in these cities are at the airport looking for their missing luggage and filing lost luggage claims and suffering this major inconvenience!

Why do bags go missing you might ask? Are you at risk? Absolutely!! Let me explain.

Bags are lost for due to many different reasons and not because some distracted baggage handler makes a mistake, the scope is so much larger than that and the following bullet points will explain what can happen to cause your luggage to go missing:

  • Agent error in tagging your luggage.
  • Skycap errors in tagging your luggage.
  • Not tipping a skycap has purposefully caused your bags to not make your flight.
  • Inadequate airport baggage conveyor systems that can no longer handle the masses of luggage being moved these days. Example witnessed by myself, Orlando, FL International Airport and its baggage system was designed to process approximately 22 million travelers a year and now moves 250,000 bags per day, or  about 92 million bags per year and the systems cannot handle it and break down constantly. Unless millions of dollars in upgrades and redesigns are done, the problem will grow worse before it gets better and this means your bags become more likely to be in this mess and you will suffer for it.
  • Baggage handler error and loading your bag on the Columbus OH, cart instead of your destination in NY.
  • How about an entire cart of bags missing the intended flight! It happens every day around this country and the world. The U.S. is not the only problem area in this world of travel these days.
  • Weather can cause mishandled luggage, aircraft down grades in equipment (going from a large aircraft to a smaller available aircraft.)
  • Cancelled flights
  • Aircraft swaps, when you are ready to get on one airplane and then the gate changes to another aircraft and gate.
  • Commuter flights or regional jets have extreme weight and balance issues and many times bags are bumped to accommodate passengers and the you have no control over whether your bag is one of the bags taken off to accommodate another passenger. Your bag will not follow you until another airplane can carry your bag to reunite with you. This problem is growing as more carriers are looking to replace large jets in certain markets to maintain cost effective.
  • Weather can play a major role in whether your luggage makes it with you or not because of the complications it can cause for an airline.
  • TSA has also added to the problem, short staffing will delay the processing of your bags even if you arrive to the airport on time and your bag can and will miss your flight.
  • How about this reality, you the traveler cause problems for your self and your fellow travelers by taking the wrong bag with you off the baggage carousel! I have had customers contact their attorney to file a law suit against the person who took their bag by mistake and held it hostage until the airlines footed the bill to pick up the mistaken bag and deliver the passenger’s bag who was at fault. Then the airline has to get the bag and pay for delivery to the customer who innocent in all this and it is not the airlines doing but your mistake. This is not rare folks, it happens every week and every day in this country.
  • How about theft at the baggage carousel? The airlines do not tell you about this but I will in my next blog and I will let you see for yourself what the news media discovered and why they came to me!!
  • There are more reasons why your luggage goes missing but I think you have an idea now.

Everyone thinks the know what to do with their luggage when they travel until I start to talk to them and then they are amazed and fascinated at what they don’t know.  The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage  will provide all the answers you need to make your travel experience the best it can be. http://theemptycarousel.comThe website will be redone soon with more features and more informative information. Please take time to look through the website as there are links to help you see which airline is working the hardest for your luggage to be with you when you arrive and on the downside, the airlines who you have the most to worry about with regards to your luggage.

As always best travels to you and your bags, may you both arrive together where ever you may be going.

Scott T. Mueller

Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage

scott@TheEmptyCarousel.com

 

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