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ago in Orlando and many thousands of bags did not travel with their customers either, I was there and saw the mess that outdated baggage equipment can cause and does cause every day around the country.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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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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