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Old Apr 10, 17, 5:28 am   #1
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airberlin left an entire plane's luggage behind

So, this story really hasn't been published much. I don't know why, but it's quite ridiculous what's going on with airberlin.

On 8 April 2017, I flew from Zurich (ZRH) to Budapest (BUD) via Berlin (TXL). The flight from ZRH was delayed about 35-45 minutes. I landed in Berlin with less than an hour to transfer, but I managed to make it to my flight. That flight was, originally, delayed 30 minutes, but was further delayed another hour to wait for connecting passengers.

Okay, the plane waits and we receive a couple more passengers. Once we landed in BUD, everyone went to the baggage belt to wait for their bags. About 30 minutes of waiting, a baggage handling agent goes around to hand out contact information forms. She doesn't tell us much of anything, except that there are no more bags. We had to fill out the contact information forms and apparently file a baggage report.

Everyone formed into three (then two once another lady left) lines of angry passengers wondering what's going on. Turns out, from the information pieced together, airberlin has managed to leave behind the ENTIRE plane's luggage in TXL or shipped it off to who knows where. Even more worrying is the baggage claims desk has stated this has been going on for *two* weeks with airberlin.

I did fill out a claims form, but left BUD for my LHR flight the day after. They were given noticed and told me to go to the lost baggage services at JFK when I land, which I did, only to find out BA has no clue and told me to take it up with airberlin. I then went onward to JFK after LHR, at which point, I'm leaving for home now (BUF). I've tried the world baggage tracer, but it still says there are technical difficulties. I have also tried contacting airberlin (social media and support center), but to of no avail. Any suggestions on how to approach this situation?

Summary:
  • airberlin lost/left/??? an entire plane's worth of luggage
  • airberlin had plenty of time to load everyone's luggage
  • I was told to go to the lost baggage at JFK, somehow hoping it makes it to there. BA told me it's airberlin's issue.
  • Already filed a report with airberlin
  • airberlin has apparently had these issues for two weeks now
  • airberlin is having delays all over the place, for some reason.

If it comes to the worst situation, I could file a lost baggage insurance with AMEX.
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Old Apr 10, 17, 9:44 am   #2
  
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I can't tell you how to find your bag best. I don't think that I have ever checked bags with AB. But the anomalies seem to coincide with the change of the ground handling company in TXL. Everything was a mess the last couple of weeks or so.
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Old Apr 10, 17, 3:47 pm   #3
  
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But it's always been a mess. There is a major problem with airberlin baggage handling. Like you, I avoid checking a bag if possible.
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Old Apr 11, 17, 1:00 am   #4
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You shouldn't be contacting anyone other then AB and using the file reference you got in BUD. They can send the bags onto a different city, even one they don't serve. Once there the bags can be delivered. However contacting bag handling at whatever city you tell them to deliver them will do nothing. Till they get the bags they have no real part in it.

Had this happen with BA flying out of ZAG and onward to PVG and small Chinese city. They couldn't get bags there before I would leave, so I told them where I'd be next (Africa). Even though no partners they got it to that city via another airline, and the bags were delivered the next day after arrival to hotel. Basically all contact should be with the BUD handling agent/AB, doesn't matter where you want the bags to goto.
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Old Apr 11, 17, 4:45 pm   #5
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Update: airberlin has said my bag made it to BUD on Sunday. They are going to ship it to my permanent address in New York.

The only reason I went to the baggage office in JFK was because the baggage claims desk in BUD had told me to do it. As per, they said it would somehow be there when I land. Second, to clear things up, BA scanned my claims tag (the little bit left after peeling away the baggage tag) in LHR because they thought it possibly might be on the flight anyway since the baggage desk in BUD had my connecting flight numbers. Of course, it wasn't and BA told me to talk to AB when I went to the baggage lost and found at JFK. There was a huge confusion on what happened at that moment.

I don't usually check my bag unless it's really heavy and fill with nothing necessary. The bag was filled with Swiss chocolate and other Swiss foods/snacks. I find it absolutely crazy an airline would let a plane depart without the passenger's luggage. A few people in the long line for the baggage desk claims were leaving within 24 hours on connecting flights.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:51 am   #6
  
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Quote:
The only reason I went to the baggage office in JFK was because the baggage claims desk in BUD had told me to do it.
These underpaid contract workers are trained to get rid of complaining passengers as quickly as possible. By telling you that the JFK office would be the best place, they successfully got rid of you, because you believed them and walked off.
As a seasoned traveller that is something you should know of.

Quote:
I find it absolutely crazy an airline would let a plane depart without the passenger's luggage.
No one has forced you to fly from TXL. That issue has been going on (esp. with AB) for the last five years. It got worst after AB terminated the contract with Wisag last month. One reason to avoid AB from TXL, when one needs to check in a bag.

Quote:
The bag was filled with Swiss chocolate and other Swiss foods/snacks.
Good luck with with CBP!
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Old Apr 13, 17, 5:57 am   #7
  
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OT, but a funny experience with AB baggage handling. I was flying AB from Varadero, Cuba to London Heathrow (LHR) via Munich. Luckily I intervened just in time as my bag was heading off down the conveyor tagged for Herat, Afghanistan (HEA).

Last edited by mgiarc; Apr 13, 17 at 8:53 am
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Old Apr 13, 17, 8:54 am   #8
  
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Herat vs Heathrow

HERAT -- My favorite Afghan airport! The code is HEA. I suspect the agent started typing HEAthrow, and the first 3 letters were printed on the luggage tag.
Thank you for that tip on the quality of training of AB agents in Cuba.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 11:00 am   #9
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Quote:
Good luck with with CBP!
Unless it's something like meats, vegetables, fruits, or liquid dairy, it's perfectly okay from my last few experiences entering the US.

Quote:
No one has forced you to fly from TXL. That issue has been going on (esp. with AB) for the last five years. It got worst after AB terminated the contract with Wisag last month. One reason to avoid AB from TXL, when one needs to check in a bag.
I have never heard of AB being this terrible with baggage. Likely because I rarely fly (besides an award ticket to EU and AUH) and check-in any luggage with AB. Thanks for making that known to me!
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Old Apr 13, 17, 12:31 pm   #10
  
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If you poke around on a few air travel forums (including here at FlyerTalk) -you will find numerous complaints about Air Berlin losing luggage - particularly thru Berlin. It seems to be their norm,

We had boarding passes for AB flight from Copenhagen to Dusseldorf, then a connecting flight to Munich. Upon putting our bag to be checked on the scale, we were told that the flight was delayed, so we would not catch our connecting flight. So AB cancelled both flights and rebooked us to Berlin - then change to Lufthansa for the Munich leg. OK. The first leg was to leave in 25 minutes. Went to the gate - no airplane. It came in a half hour - then left 35 minutes later. At Berlin - we ran to the other terminal to find Lufthansa. Last ones on the plane. At Munich - 2 hours late - of course they lost our luggage. Did not find it for three days. So much for Air Berlin.
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Old Apr 13, 17, 10:04 pm   #11
  
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They do that all the time

I flew from Budapest to Tegal two years ago and none of the bags arrived. We waited one hour in baggage claim before an old man came and told us to go to the service office. We all filled out a form, then I tried to call them to enquire after my luggage. No answer. Took a taxi back to Tegal to get my suitcase and learnt that they hadn't even entered my claim. I asked to go into their bag room to look for my bag but was told there were 500 bags in there. I got my suitcase 13 days later after a trip to Geneva with none of my suits to wear. AB then refused to reimburse my interim expenses. You'd think you'd be safer on a non-stop flight, but with Air Berlin change in Frankfurt or Vienna if at all possible.
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Old Apr 15, 17, 2:34 pm   #12
  
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I wonder how it is possible for AB to "leave an entire plane's luggage behind" at TXL, including the bags of the passengers who check-in and board in Berlin. If at TXL bags are checked right at the gate from which a plane departs a few meters away, how can a bag be misplaced? Soon I am travelling from TXL to MUC (taking the earliest TXL-MUC flight in the morning, which normally seems to board at gate A2), where I connect to AA onward to PHL (the same reservation). Given that I originate at TXL, I hope it will be OK with my bag.
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Old Apr 16, 17, 5:41 am   #13
  
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In terminal C from where most short hauls depart there is quite some distance between the check-in counter and the airplane.

Loosing all luggage for the flight likely means that the handling company has no capacity to load it (lack of capacity in ground handling has been pervasive after the change). The airline decided to fly without it to avoid problems with delays. Likely, luggage delay problems are less costly than pax delays.

I still hope that the new company will finally tune and we will be able to check-in luggage. Right now I religiously avoid it.
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