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
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!
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
- Negotiable papers
- Precious Metals
- Business documents
- Software and electronically stored data
- Artifacts and antiques
- Paintings and other works of art
- Photographic and electronic equipment (which includes PDA’s computers, camcorders, and digital cameras)
- 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.
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on LuggageRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
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
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
Air travelers, a lot has changed since 9/11. Do you remember some airports before 9/11 had those “security” people who checked your luggage claim checks against the bags you were taking with you? Where are they now? Who is watching out for your luggage until you claim it at the carousel?
The answer is NOONE is watching out for your luggage anymore or anywhere that I have heard of!! This means your bags are at risk until you pick them up yourself………. Why you ask? and what should you do? Allow me to offer some expert advise and clarification of what changed and why.
First of all, the airlines paid for the security companies that checked baggage checks against your luggage. After 9/11 the government abolished privotized security companies.
Two things came into play in 2001, the crash of the tech market and the terrorist attacks against our nation and the commercial airlines. The airlines were already suffering financially due to the loss of a great deal of business travelers from the tech market crash. Business travelers are the bread and butter to the airlines because they pay the last minute higher priced air fare. Second was the entire nations aviation was halted for the first time in our nations history for 3 days before the first flight resumed.
Costs had to be evaluated and money had to be saved now. One of the first things to go was the baggage ID checkers. Then many airline employees lost their jobs as well due to reductions in force (RIF)
Baggage could stand on its own. Also the luggage security people did not exist at all airports nationwide. Many baggage claim areas at many airports did not have the design to coral so many travelers in a baggage area becuase there also had to be appropriate fire exits etc. There were certain safety criteria that had to be in place for the coral system to effectively work.
There was one airport that had security inspectors in place and a theft ring evloved within the baggage check ID inspectors and they were targeting golf clubs.
I highly doubt you will see this type of security return as airlines are focused mainly on their two highest costs, fuel and labor. And that is why you have to take control and responsiblity for your luggage when you travel. Noone has your best interest at hand with your luggage except you.
What can you do to protect yourself?
- Don’t pack anything you cannot afford to lose, live without, or seal the deal without it!
- When you exit the aircraft, make a mad dash to the baggage carousel.
- If you have to make a restroom stop, do it quickly and preferably once you arrive to the baggage carousel, or take turns if you are with your family, group, or travel companion.
- Most off-loads of baggage take about 20-25 minutes to arrive to the baggage carousel depending on how many passengers and bags are on your flight will determine more or less time as will the size of the airport and distance from the gate to the terminal. Small airports take less time to get your bags to the carousel than larger airports will.
- Mark your luggage so it stands out from the crowd, secure ribbons, colored tape etc. to help you identify it quickly.
- Stand at the beginning area of the baggage carousel where the bags come out so your luggage does not get caught up traveling around the carousel where others may get to it before you do.
- If you have an oversize bag such as golf clubs, bikes, surfboards, or other such oversized checked items, ask your airline representative where you can retrieve your item as in most cases a different location for delivery of your item will bu used to drop the items than the carousel where regular sized bags are off-loaded.
- DO NOT stop to eat, have a meeting, wait for a friend to arrive on their flight, shop, get coffee etc.
- Hesitation on your part leaves an open opportunity to would be petty thieves to roll off with your luggage and personal property.
- Maintain vigilance at all times while waiting for your luggage to arrive.
- When you have your luggage, do not leave it unattended or turn your back on it. I did that once when I had the old heavy camcorder in the large metal case and set it at my feet then turned my back to it without thinking in a small airport, when I turned around, it was gone, stolen while just inches away from me while I had my back turned. Don’t let it happen to you.
Doing these things will certainly enhance your luggage safety at the carousel. You can read more about these valauble tips and more information you should know when you travel at www.TheEmptyCarousel.com
Safe and happy travels where ever they take you and remember you can always post a comment here or at the website listed above. My advice is always free through these venues and by educating youself on what you can do to protect your property and understanding the entire baggage process will not only benefit you but the entire system of air travel and all parties involved.
Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Gide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 3 so far )
When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog…. « Airtravelluggageconsultant WeblogRead Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
When you pack your luggage, do you know what your doing? This elderly woman did not have a clue she packed her husband and his dog….
While working as an airline baggage service manager, I received a call one day from a woman who said her bag was lost, that is not uncommon these days as many of you know. She was frantic, so I did what I did best, used empathy (sincerely) and listened to what her itinerary was etc. From Maine on airline “A” then connecting to another airline “B” of which the two are not associated you see. But carrier “B” being the final carrier accepts responsibility even though when the dust settled, airline “A” created all the problems to begin with.
So I listened to this nice elderly lady and then told her that everything would be ok and if the bag was not found in 30 days from the date of loss, I would buy her a new bag and replace the contents that would be covered by my airline’s “Contract of Carriage” (Do you know what this is?) And of course, items that are not covered certainly would pertain to what she had packed in her luggage in this case……………. Yes, you already have the clue from the tag line.
Unknowingly, she had packed her husbands remains and that of his favorite dog to take to their vacation home and sprinkle his and doggies remains together per his dying wish and a good wish.
She thought anything would be safe in her checked luggage, even her beloved husband and doggies ashes. So I offered her my home phone number to call me when ever she needed to while I did my best to locate the checked bag that mysteriously disappeared. She continued calling and crying and of course her distraught sons one who is a reporter and the other an attorney were preparing to put my company out of business.
I did all I could to find her beloved loved ones but to no avail. Finally 30 days later, airline “A” called my customer at home and told her “Are you missing a bag” Oh my!! yes with tears streaming down her eyes so plans were made to express mail her loved ones to her where she lived.
That was the happy part of this story, although tragedy was avoided, elderly customer called me to chew me a new back side and told me I did nothing to find her bag and loved ones because airline “A” had the bag for 30 days. Here in lies the problem, since it came to be that airline “A” never entered her bag into the world wide lost luggage computer system that most airlines use, nor did they use the ID tag she had on the bag with her name, address, and phone number until 30 days later! You may also be asking why the lost luggage store in Alabama stocks its shelves with 7000 of your lost luggage items every day for resale.
You see, when bags are delayed, lost, damaged, or pilfered, it does help to understand the process and your rights, what a Contract of Carriage is and what it covers. Allow me to help you with my new book on this topic specifically written to turn the tide of this growing problem. Go on and check it out plus I will offer you free consulting through my website or here. Safe travels to you always.
Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage
Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )
Dear Air Travel Consumer, not that things are getting any better with your checked and carry-on luggage, released today in the Washington Post, airline luggage mishandles are up 8 percent in 2007 from 2006, that is 4.4 million bags mishandled in 2007, that is up from 2006, 2005, 2004………. You get the idea and it is not going to get any better.
United Airlines started charging for a second bag to check for 25.00, since then these carriers have followed on their heals, US Airways, Continental, Northwest, and Delta, don’t think it will end there, I would expect to see most carriers following suit very soon.
The airlines made a bold statement “Airline representatives said they would not refund that charge if the bags are mishandled” Not only do you have mishandled bags but now you are paying for the lack of service, frustration, lost time, lost money, etc.
The only option you have is to understand the system, know what you can do to take back some control, and what to do and what your entitled to if you and your luggage don’t arrive to your destination at the same time. I wrote a book on this exact topic because I know the only way to turn the tide in this growing problem is to offer you my inside knowledge as a veteran of the airline industry and former System Baggage Service Manager for more than 50 cities. I am also available through my website to offer you free advice as I am here.
I will act as your luggage consultant for free to help you avoid becoming another statistic and what to do if you are another statistic. Lets start our own grass roots movement to turn the tide in your favor. Hope to hear from you soon.
Scott T. Mueller
Author The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage
Air travel consumers, did you know that when you purchase a ticket for traveleing, you are now bound by the airlines “Contract of Carriage” Do you know what information the Contract of Carriage contains regarding your legal rights for delays, cancellations, mishandled baggage, bumping and so much more? Do you know where to find an airlines Contract of Carriage? Give me a shout and I can help advise you. As the author of a new book The Empty Carousel a Consumer’s Guide to Checked and Carry-on Luggage, I will offer you education to protect you and your property when you travel.
Just released yesterday, airline complaints have increased 60% in 2007 over 2006! One third of those complaints were about your luggage. How can I help you?Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )
As reported by the New York Times last November 2007 which stated that 5 million travelers last year would have stood at an empty baggage carousel scratching their heads at the end of your travel. How many of you felt this gut wrenching experience and what did it cost you in lost time, vacation time, business time, money, or?
As an author on this topic, an expert and veteran of the airline industry, I am trying to turn the tide of this rapidly growing problem and I would like to hear from you and how my expertise with the luggage process can help you and those you know.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( 1 so far )