Unbelievable (12 hrs early at MIA and Checked Baggage Issues)

 
Old May 6, 15, 6:17 pm
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Unbelievable (12 hrs early at MIA and Checked Baggage Issues)

Every word of this very long story is true.

Spouse and I show up at MIA for our AA direct flight to BWI, check in and drop a bag, go through security to our gate, then find out we are 12 hrs early for our flight. Need you ask why? Moving on, here is what happened after that stunning mistake.

I proceed to the AA booking center to see about getting on an earlier flight. One person is ahead of me being served by the single agent. The person is going ballistic about poor service and problems getting rescheduled from some international flight breakdown. I decide to bail on the desk and proceed to a bank of phones next to the desk. I reach a reservations agent. She: “We can rebook you on the next flight for $75 per person.” Me: “Great! But that flight leaves in about 90 min. What about my bag?” She: “No problem sir. Take your baggage claim check to the gate. They will scan it and all will be well.” Me: “Let me consult with my spouse.” I get the go-ahead.

Return to the booking center. No line this time - I proceed directly to Agent Barry. Me: “Can you please rebook me onto this flight?” He: “No sir. The flight is less than 3 hours in the future and you have checked a bag. We are prohibited from putting you on that flight.” Me: “Huh?!?” He: “I’m sorry sir, but those are the rules. I can rebook you onto the flight after that one. However, your bag will not transfer.” Me: “Thank you Barry. I will inquire with the agents over the phone and get back with you if need be.”

I walk to the phone bank and get an agent on the line. She: “He told you WHAT!?!” Me: “He said there is some 3-hr rule at MIA.” She: “Never heard of anything so preposterous. Let me call my colleague.” Five minutes pass. She: “Well it seems they have something called a positive bag match. So, he is right about the 3-hr rule, but your bag will transfer if I book you over onto the flight after that one. However I can’t assign seats - you will have to do that at the gate.” Me: “Let’s do that. I assume I can get my seats at the booking center correct?” She: “Of course. Your bag is set to go.” She makes the reservation change and I proceed to Barry for seats.

Me: “I’ve been rebooked. Can I get seat assignments?” He: “Of course. You did say you have a bag. That is not going to make it.” Me: “The phone agent said it would.” He: “They don’t know what they are talking about. This is MIA and we don’t do bag transfers.” Me: “Why is this so difficult? The flight is 4 hours in the future. The phone agent was laughing when I told her what you said initially.” He: “Well that’s what I would expect from a reservation agent.” He flags down a passing supervisor. Barry: “Do we do bag transfers in cases like this?” Supervisor: “No. Haven’t for years. Maybe for international connections but otherwise no way.” Barry: “There is only one chance to get that bag onto your flight. You need to go to the baggage service and tell them you want it back, then take it up to ticketing and check it in again. When you go to baggage services, DO NOT tell them you have been rebooked. Tell them you have an emergency and are not flying today.” Supervisor: “That should work.”

I leave the secure area and go to baggage services. This takes about 20 min. Me: “I need to get my bag back. This is an emergency.” Agent’s face turns white. She: “Sir, it will take us at least 5 hours to pull the bag and bring it back here. Can’t you rebook?” Me: “Well, uh, I have in fact rebooked but was told to come get the bag or it wouldn’t transfer. And I wasn’t supposed to tell you about the rebooking.” She “WHAT?!?! Those idiots. Do you have a ticket?” Me: “Even better - I have a boarding pass.” I hand it to her. She types something into her computer. She: “Your bag has already been transferred sir. Nothing more needs to be done.”

I return to Barry in the terminal and relate what took place at baggage services. I ask whether AA would be proud of the customer service I had received today. Barry shrugs. I ask for a supervisor. Barry: “I can’t just call one over. They just wander around - I have to flag one down.” Fortunately, just at that moment Barry catches one out of the corner of his eye and waives him over. I relate the story to him. He shrugs and says the bag will not be on the plane. I inform him that the baggage person can tell from the boarding pass that it is rerouted. He begins typing into a computer. Starts muttering about “looks like an R in front of the bag number….”. Continues typing and muttering. I go for the brass ring and request passes to the Admirals Club because I have just spent 2 hours and walked five miles for nothing. He: “We can’t do that.” Me: “Is there someone who could authorize that?” He: “No” Me: “Well I guess I’ll just go to the gate then. The good news is that the bag will eventually get to me, either on the plane or by your delayed-bag service.” He chuckles and says “You’re right on that!”

Arrive at destination. No bag. Go to baggage services. Agent: “You changed flights after you checked the bag. That’s a Voluntary Separation. You should call us to find out when the bag arrives here, then you can come pick it up. We will hold it no more than 5 days.” After I calmly explain what I was told by his colleagues in baggage services in MIA, I unleash a long loud stream of verbal abuse directed towards AA (but no cursing I am proud to say).

Call AA baggage services the following day around lunch. Agent: “What is you locator code?” Me: “My what?” Agent: “They didn’t give you one when you reported the bag missing? Give me your name and flight number.” I do so. Agent: “Your bag is there. I will send a message over to have it delivered. Write down this locator code in case you have to follow up. You’ll get a call in a few hours about the delivery time.” Me: ???? Hours pass and it is now 8PM. Call baggage services. Agent: “What is your locator code?” I give her the code. Agent: “That code is not correct for a bag delivery. I’ll set it up again. Here is the new code. You’ll hear from us tomorrow.”

In an amazing stroke of luck, my bag was delivered the next day.
rjpjr is offline  
Old May 6, 15, 6:33 pm
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I'm sorry, but what exactly is unbelievable? There goes 5 minutes I'll never get back!
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Old May 6, 15, 6:36 pm
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OK, I'll ask. Why you were 12 hours early for your flight?

It sounds like MIA baggage handling is inefficient, and the local employees are aware of it. Why didn't you try to SDC before you checked your luggage if you knew you were going to do that?
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Old May 6, 15, 6:46 pm
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It sounds to me like either the OP's flight was rescheduled or perhaps there was an am/pm confusion. The check in agent should have reminded the customers that they were very early. Also, I wonder whether accepting checked bags 12+ hours before departure violates security rules. Most airline policies forbid this, so I suspect that the check in agent wasn't paying attention.
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Old May 6, 15, 7:03 pm
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Adam 10 - Do you fly AA a lot and, if so, is this what to expect when anything out of the ordinary happens?

Last edited by rjpjr; May 6, 15 at 7:05 pm Reason: wrong level in thread
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Old May 6, 15, 7:07 pm
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OP is very lucky that AA was willing to SDC with luggage already checked. Better answer from all the MIA agents would have been, "sorry, no change once you check."
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Old May 6, 15, 7:10 pm
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Cool

Originally Posted by rjpjr View Post
Adam 10 - Do you fly AA a lot and, if so, is this what to expect when anything out of the ordinary happens?
Unfortunately, it sounds like the desk agent did know what he was talking about, i.e., that the baggage handling inefficiencies at MIA made it extremely unlikely your bags would make it onto your earlier flight. That fact stinks, but at least he didn't mislead you. You should complain about those inefficiencies, but the desk agent was at least giving you realistic information.

Add:looks like the quote got changed somehow.
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Old May 6, 15, 7:23 pm
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Originally Posted by rjpjr View Post
Adam 10 - Do you fly AA a lot and, if so, is this what to expect when anything out of the ordinary happens?
I most certainly do. IMO, three employees tried to tell you what will happen but you leaned toward the opinion of the (1) employee who told you what you had wanted to hear all along. Getting your bag delivered the next day on a voluntary separation...I give AA at least one thumb up!
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Old May 6, 15, 7:27 pm
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Confused how you were able to check a bag 12 hours early. AA has always had a timeframe prior to flights......believe it is 6 hours......and they will not let you check a bag prior to that. If you go to an agent, they'll state the 6 hour rule. If you try to self check at a kiosk, it will not go through for the bag tag unless within the 6 hour window.
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Old May 6, 15, 7:47 pm
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aztimm
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Old May 6, 15, 8:02 pm
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rule of thumb - if MIA is involved in your itinerary, don't check a bag unless you're okay with not seeing it for one or more days. this goes for all airlines, not just AA.
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Old May 6, 15, 8:04 pm
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Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
OK, I'll ask. Why you were 12 hours early for your flight?
Given the 12-hour cycle of the standard (non-military) clock, I'd surmise OP mistook an 8pm flight for an 8am one
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Old May 6, 15, 8:33 pm
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Given the 12-hour cycle of the standard (non-military) clock, I'd surmise OP mistook an 8pm flight for an 8am one
Probably! Why can't we all get together and use the 24-hour clock? The AM-PM nonsense causes confusion . BTW, even though we use the Latin terms "ante" meridian and "post" meridian, the Romans did not (they had a more complicated system, based on sunrise and sunset). Yes, I admit I once goofed between the two (and I was in the Army at the time, but the ticket was in AM-PM time). There are 24 hours in the day; clocks should be 24 hours; airline times should be 24 hours.

Now, to the topic at hand: it sounds like MIA is difficult wrt to luggage, but the OP did get some healthful exercise .
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Old May 6, 15, 8:37 pm
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Originally Posted by rjw242 View Post
Given the 12-hour cycle of the standard (non-military) clock, I'd surmise OP mistook an 8pm flight for an 8am one
Unbelievable!
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Old May 6, 15, 8:56 pm
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I stopped using MIA when I have checked bag(s) several years ago. Way too many problems for my taste. When I have checked bags, I drive to FLL (even if I have to rent a car specifically for this purpose) and start my journey there.
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