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Trip Report: EWR-BRU Luggages Mishandled

Thu Dec 23, 1999 3:10 am

Hello everybody,

This is Ben. Remember me? You must have been asking yourself why I haven`t been in the forum lately. I haven`t been in the forum for one week because I was sick. I got sick shortly after returning from my trip. Now I feel much better. So how have you been?

I flew last week from Newark to Brussels. I was supposed to go through Chicago O`Hare and get my connecting flight to Brussels but I went though London Heathrow instead. My scheduled departure time was 615PM, I knew I baraly had one hour connecting time at O`Hare but I knew also that there was a flight to London leaving at 700PM. I get to the airport exactly at 400PM at Terminal A, a good two hours prior to schedule departure time. Weather was lousy, it was raining and the visibility was poor. Flight 1599 to ORD was on time. I check my two luggages all the way to Brussels, show my passeport and ticket, no problem. I checked in without any problems. I still had about one hour and a half before boarding, so I walked around the airport like I always do and later, after passing the X-Ray machine, I go to the Admirals club, I have a couple of drinks there before going to the gate. Flight 1599 was still on time. So at 545PM, they begin boarding. I was assinged on seat 14A, the aircraft was a 727-200 fitted with the new seats. Very relaxed, I take my window seat, and a few minutes later the captain announces on the P/A that we cannot take off before 800PM because ATC won`t allow us to do so. "You can leave the aircraft, make phone calls, do whatever you want to do, but just take your boarding pass with you" he said. So here is what I did: I took my hand luggage with my boarding pass and I went to the gate agent. I explained her that I had a connecting flight to Brussels and she told me that I would have to go through London Heathrow. "That`s what I wanna do" I said. So she reissued me a new ticket with the new flights and she said that handling my luggages would be a difficult task, but she said she would try to do something about that. The aircraft that would fly to london was sitting just next to the one that would leave to Chicago, so I thought that they would have time to transfer my luggages. I thought they did but they didn't!

So I get on the plane, flight 92, bound for London Heathrow. It was a 767-200 fitted with the new seats. I had the seat 26J, it was quite empty insited. I had a whole row for myself. Scheduled departure time was 700PM, we leave the gate at 713PM. Less than thirty minutes later, we are airborne out of RWY 04L, there was a Midway Fokker 100 landing on RWY 04R. Wheels up, we continue climbing to our cruising altitude of 33000ft. I could see nothing but black so I put the window shades down for most of the flight. Dinner was served with complimentary beverages, I had red wine, beef, beans and potatoes. Quite a good meal. I sleep a little bit, I wake up and London is already less than three hours away. I listen to the audio entertainment channel for a while and the flight attendants start serving breakfast. As usual, it was a hot muffin and a strawberry yoghurt. I had coffee with that. As the items were collected, the sun was beginning to rise, I could see Southern England out of the window. We begin our descent, we turn sharply to the left before intercepting the localizer for RWY 27L. So a few minutes past 700AM local time, we touch down at Heathrow. It was getting daylight, the weather was partly cloudy in the London area. We park just on the corner of Terminal 3. I deplane thought the stairs, not a jetway as I would usually do at a major airport.

So I`m in London, I transfer to Terminal 1. After going though X-Rays, I go to American Airlines and tell them: "Look, I just flew out of Newark, I was supposed to go though Chicago but the flight was delayed. Could you please tell me where my luggages are?" She took my ticket, she looked in the computer and she told me that they were coming from Chicago on flight 46 arriving late at 1135AM. I had my connecing flight to Brussels at 1230PM so I thought I would have my luggages upon arrival. It was British Airways, flight 394, a Boeing 757. I board the aircraft on time but it is after a while that we take off. So we are airborne out of RWY 27R, we turn left towards the Channel. A light snack was served along with tea and beverages. So we are over Belgium, the coutry was covered with snow. We begin our descent and we finally line up on RWY 02 at Brussels National Airport. At 255PM, we touch down and three minutes later we are at the gate.

So I`m finally in Brussels, I clear the customs and go the baggage claim area. After 45 min waiting, I go to the luggage service department and tell them my story. They file a report for me and tell me they would contact me as soon as they would get the luggages. There were two flights coming from London Heathrow, one British Airways and one British Midland, I kept waiting...nothing. I was getting mad. At 450PM, I had enough waiting so I went home with just my hand luggage. The next morning, I call Aviaparteners because they handle British Airways`s luggages. "No, we don`t have anything yet" they said. "As soon as we do, we call you". "OK fine bye bye" I said. Three hours later, I call back. "Yes, we have one luggage, the little one". So I go to the airport to pick it up, and in the meanwhile I look for the other luggage still missing. The next morning, I call them up "One luggage was found" they said. "So, what about the other one?" I ask. They said the other one was still not there and didn`t know where it was, so I told them to send a message to American Airlines and British Airways and I told them that it wasn`t normal that one luggage was found and the other one wasn`t. At noon time, I get a phone call at the office. I`m told that my other luggage was there! So I drive again to the airport to pick it up, they could come deliver it to me free of charge but their planning wasn`t convenient for me. 45 hours after deplaning, I get both my luggages!!! And you know what, both my luggages arrived in London as expected. One of them went on a BA flight to Brussels later and the other one went on a flight to Stockolm! It was then transfered on an SAS flight back to Brussels. I can`t beleive this!

It was my responsibility to choose to go through London but the gate agent could have helped me differently. She could have told me to wait, go to Chicago, get my luggages there, stay there overnight and be rescheduled to Brussels the next day. That I would have accepted. I would not have been a problem staying in the United States an extra day. She could have told me the best alternative that there was, but no she just reissued me a new ticked without thinking of proposing me the best alternatives. I don`t mind having lots of delays, I don`t mind being rescheduled to fly around the world before getting home, what I do mind is knowing at all times where my luggages are. I want to know what you folks think about this.

Ben Soriano
Brussels Belgium
Ben Soriano
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Joined: Tue May 18, 1999 2:46 am

Interesting Story

Thu Dec 23, 1999 3:50 am

These Days gate agents aren't looking out for you or your luggages best interest. They are looking out for the most efficient way to get you where you want to go. Also, I don't think they would have wanted to pay to put you up in chicago just so you could be together with your luggage.
Bruce Leibowitz - Jackson, MS (KJAN) - Canon 50D/100-400L IS lens
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Joined: Wed May 19, 1999 12:31 am

RE: Trip Report: EWR-BRU Luggages Mishandled

Thu Dec 23, 1999 5:04 am

Well, it happens...
But, Ben, why don't you take a non-stop flight EWR-BRU with Sabena?
Sabena and American have now shared their FF-programme.
You can claim miles on Sabena from now on.

Posts: 112
Joined: Sat Nov 20, 1999 5:36 am

RE: Trip Report: EWR-BRU Luggages Mishandled

Thu Dec 23, 1999 7:49 am

Hey Ben

Welcome back

I want to ask you just the same question as Tino. Why didn't you take the non-stop flight to Brussels? It's a lot easier then a connecting flight at ORD.

My opinion about the luggage: your luggage was checked to go to BRU via ORD. So the luggage is labeled and I don't think the desk clerk would search your luggage and then give it another label. But your right, it was now more difficult then when your luggage just got the right label.

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Joined: Sun Jul 11, 1999 6:27 am

RE: You Think That's Bad!

Fri Dec 24, 1999 12:48 am

I took a trip two years ago to the Caribbean. I flew American Airlines from Boston to Miami (A300) and connected to a flight to St Croix (727). The way down everything was fine and we had clean connections.

The way home, however, was somewhat different. We were told of a major blizzard moving up the East Coast (anyone from Boston to Washington will remember the April Fools Storm!). We were booked on our flight to Miami, but it was overbooked and and weight restricted (which means it was too hot for the plane to take off full) so we took stand-by status with $400 vouchers. We didn't get on the flight to Miami, but my bags did! My parents bags didn't get on the flight, they went with is to San Juan, PR, but ended up somewhere in San Juan, and we didn't then again. All flight to Boston were cancelled, so we took a hotel room, and got on a 07.30 flight to Chicago (757), at this point we still have no bags. We get to chicago and find out all fights to Boston are (go figure) cancelled. We, again take a hotel room at the O'Hare Hilton, which was fine by me as we had an excellent view of the field. As we have no bags we go shopping for clothes as the only thing I have is shorts and t-shirts (not suitable for 1 April in Chicago) and sweatpants and sweatshirt which were getting pretty ratty. So we go shopping and into downtown for dinner. The next morning we go back to Terminal 3 for our flight to Boston (thankfully it wasn't cancelled), and while waiting for take-off the airport closes again, so we go to a holding area (we were invited to go to the cockpit, but for some reason, I didn't). We finally land in Boston 2 days after I was supposed to.

What's the point of me telling you all this?

I didn't see my baggage until FOUR days after I let it go at St. Croix Airport!

London, England
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