Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today's Gripe: Flying the "we lost your luggage and it isn't our fault" skies

My contribution to this blog may be less frequent than my wife, but I hope that I can add a nugget of wisdom (or provide a chuckle) from time to time. Among my contributions, I hope to add some recurring posts -- a series of series if you will -- each loosely based on a singular topic.

The first series I will introduce today is "Today's Gripe." Now, I know nobody likes to hear griping so I will spare each and every trivial or petty gripe that I can. But from time to time, a given gripe simply must be published. If for no other reason than to shame the gripee or to give the griper some comfort that others share in the griper's outrage. Of course, if you know Christina and me, a recurring post about complaining doesn't seem totally out of character. So without further delay, let the griping commence!

As the title implies, my first gripe deals with air travel. For the third time in my life, I have arrived at a destination sans luggage. And while it did arrive while I slept, I still feel the need to gripe.

There is no worse feeling than seeing the bag labeled "last bag" as it passes you standing at the baggage claim carousel. Frustrated and tired, it's off to the lost luggage counter.

Me: "My luggage never came."

Rep: . . . says nothing -- takes my sticker and starts typing . . .

Rep: "Yes, Mr. W, we have your bag, sorry it never made it out of Reagan/ it wound up in Rochester / it didn't make the connecting flight. Here is your tracking number, we'll deliver it to you as soon as possible."

Me: "Thanks for losing my bag again. Have a nice day."

Rep: "Next in line."

It comes the next day (or next week) with a mileage certificate good for 1000 World Perks miles and a $25.00 coupon for travel booked in the next calendar year. Thanks.

Aside from the inconvenience in losing one's luggage, my real gripe is that there is no policy that holds the airline to account. I mean, people travel with luggage and their luggage holds their clothes and toiletries. Why then is there no logical relationship between the airline's failure to deliver these things and the "compensation" for their failure to do so. Why doesn't the airline give me fifty bucks to buy underwear and shaving cream? Or a gift certificate at Wal-Mart. Or at the very least refund the extra fifteen bucks I forked over for the right to check a bag. Instead, they give me something that forces me to do future business with them if I am to receive any benefit at all.

And, good air traveler as I am, I will respond to this as the airlines want me to. I'll pack lighter, carry on, and avoid the possibility that they'll lose my stuff. But stop griping, I will NOT.

So as I wag my finger at you airline industry (a la Colbert), this time, I congratulate you too. After all, you are the honorable subject of my first Gripe of the day.

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