Directly From Me to You, Get Your Popcorn and Soda And Your Spare Underware:American Airlines Baggage Mess – iReport.com
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.)
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
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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
Almost 5 Million Travelers Stood Facing an Empty Baggage Carousel in 2007, Imagine The Entire City of Los Angeles Deserted!
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
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