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CWS checks in a bag (NCL-LHR) - and BA loses it!

CWS checks in a bag (NCL-LHR) - and BA loses it!

Old Jul 15, 18, 3:32 pm
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CWS checks in a bag (NCL-LHR) - and BA loses it!

[Spoiler alert: the outcome is not at all rant-worthy, but it may help someone].

Longer term inmates of this forum will be aware that I am a dedicated, possibly fanatical, Hand Baggage Only (HBO) traveller. I have done that for all flights - short haul, long haul, no matter how long the duration, all over the planet. In the last 3 decades the only time I've not done that was in the aftermath of 9/11, currently from IST/BEY/CAI etc due to the restrictions on electrical items, and a few helicopter and Gulfstream flights.

Today I decided to check in my bag for NCL to LHR, so that I could time its arrival on the baggage carousel, in order to answer a PM I had received. And also because I could see it being useful information to have to hand in any related queries. And yes, BA managed to lose my bag on a simple point to point flight. OK, "delay" my bag to be more accurate.

Now going through NCL security - on one of its busiest days - was a joy. I only had a mobile phone to put in the tray, the security agent saw I was travelling ultra light so put it straight into scan unit and I effectively jumped a line of once-a-year travellers. Through in seconds. Uneventful flight, other than I arrived at gate 4 for 16:42 on a flight due into T5 at 17:00. Doors open at 16:45. I was back in row 10, the exit row on an A319, I wasn't in a big hurry to get to the baggage reclaim, but got to carousel 2 for 16:50. And waited. And waited.

On the next carousel, carousel 1, I noticed a few bags which had obviously ended up on the wrong place. So if you are that Loganair passenger baggage-less in Geneva tonight, after a trip via GLA and LHR, I can tell you your bag is probably still whizzing around domestic carousel 1. Any way there was a few announcements apologising for delays, and one specific for Seychelles customers, about an hour after their arrival, who had presumably started to complain. The reason given was "congestion in the baggage reclaim area".

The first NCL bags came out at 17:08, so the direct answer to my question would be "20 to 25 minutes", if we accept BA were having a bad day. There weren't many people waiting for bags from NCL, 20 maybe, the rest presumably either on connections or HBO. Very sensible.

By 17:20 domestic baggage reclaim was nearly deserted, and as the tumbleweed ran across the carousels, it finally dawned on me that my bag was not just the last out - it wasn't there at all. So I sauntered over - for the first time in my life - to Baggage Assistance. Lovely lady there tapped away and offered biscuits. Did you know Baggage Assistance has biscuits? Well I didn't.

Now there was some passengers from Belfast ahead of me in the queue, it turned out their bags had gone to the Store for some reason; and though the agent could retrieve them from the Store, that would then mean they would emerge in International Baggage Reclaim, so they were sent to the other end of the building and given instructions to use a telephone at the other end of Arrivals. Maybe that is what happened to my bags?

When the agent took my tag she tapped it into the computer and then looked surprised at the screen, then at the empty carousel in front of her. She picked up the telephone and talked to someone in the baggage unit. From what I could make out, my bag wasn't on the Heathrow system at all and all NCL bags had been processed. I asked if it left NCL correctly? Yes, apparently it had. Her best guess was that the bag had been incorrectly put in the Transfer baggage unit, and had gone off to another service. She offered to take my address so that my bag could be delivered "as soon as possible".

Now at this stage I realised that this was not going very well - London maybe a 24 hour city, but even I was struggling to think where to get a suit, shirt, tie, shoes for work tomorrow, given it would have been nearly 19:00 hrs by the time I got to Oxford Street. Plus I'm staying in 4 separate hotels this week. Was my week going to be spend monitoring Worldtracer and not ringing up 4 times a day?

Thinking rationally, I thought, OK this is going to get to BA666 to TOM via ABV, given my current lucky streak, but probably someone would actually notice the lack of tags for this, not load the bag and thus return it to Store. So I said "OK, I'll wait 30 minutes and see if we get more information". More public announcements apologising for delays in baggage reclaim. I wandered off for a bit, but UK baggage reclaim isn't a particularly interesting place to inspect. It was now around 17:30.

17:45, the agent went out of the desk to find me, and asked me to describe my bag. We returned to her desk, where she and her colleague agreed that baggage handlers had found my bag, and yes, it had ended up in International Arrivals (whether the Transfer bit happened, I'm not sure). Rather than sending me over to the other end of Arrivals like the Belfast passengers, the agent's colleague agreed to go next door to sort it out for me. A few minutes later, my bag duly appeared on Carousel 2, at 17:50. So an hour after I arrived all was well, the bag was safe and sound.

So I won't be doing that again any time soon. But thank goodness I had a Priority Tag put on it at NCL! Must have made all the difference.

corporate-wage-slave is offline  
Old Jul 15, 18, 3:41 pm
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A sad tale, but I'm glad that you were able to get your bag before leaving the airport.

I've never done a domestic, but for an international arrival I find that typically by the time I make it off the plane and go through immigration and arrive in the baggage hall my bags are either already there or arrive in a few min. I've never been unduly delayed by checking a bag.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:41 pm
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Back in row 10.Thats why your bag went missing. Wouldn't have happened in 1A
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:51 pm
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I'm not sure which part of this story surprised me most: that you checked in a bag, that BA misplaced it, or that Baggage Assistance has biscuits!

Glad you retrieved it (relatively) swiftly, and an amusingly written write-up c-w-s. I also had to wait back in March for the same route, and I would concur with 20-25 minutes being about how long it would take.

As you say there's not much to do in domestic luggage reclaim. While waiting on that occasion, however, I did get a chuckle out of this bag.

I suppose it's one way of ensuring that it doesn't go walkabout (or if it does, you can easily describe it…)
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:51 pm
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Normally I subscribe to CWS advice on HBO (having twice gone to meetings in Florida (30C) dressed for typically UK spring conditions (10C, rainy). Being an engineer, travelling with checked in equipment is sometimes unavoidable, especially when there is 70kg of it.

Baggage delivery seems to be generally slow this week (although thankfully my ~£20k of test equipment did emerge eventually, and on the right carousel...). Having made it from on stand at T5B to the baggage claim in less than 6 minutes (via what might be a new PB through the tunnel), I then waited for bags to emerge for about 30 minutes (at 10pm on a friday). Amusingly, it seemed all those with priority tags came out last!
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:52 pm
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Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
[Spoiler alert: the outcome is not at all rant-worthy, but it may help someone].

Good that you have the bag again. Looks like the bag you recommended in a thread in December 2015 ( Best (budget) hand baggage suitcase? ).
I think you already gave the reason in the old thread:
Originally Posted by corporate-wage-slave View Post
... invisible to gate agents ...
...maybe not only to gate agents. It might be a real invisibility cloak
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:54 pm
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Originally Posted by Hamburg1971 View Post
Looks like the bag you recommended in a thread in December 2015 ( Best (budget) hand baggage suitcase? ).
(Veering OT) - it is, I bought the same bag based on the advice in that thread
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Old Jul 15, 18, 3:59 pm
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Of greater concern, perhaps, than BAís mis-handling of your bag is the noteworthy use (not for the first time, I believe !) of illeism within the thread title.

This unusual practise undoubtedly places you in the company of several famous personalities - or infamous, depending on oneís viewpoint

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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:01 pm
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I have had mixed experience with BA bag loss. They lost the bag FCO to LHR. The lady at bag queries found it quite quickly and it appeared at home circa 24 hours later. So bad that they lost it on a point to point, but good that there service recovery was good.

My worst experience was with Virgin Australia. From Sydney to Cairns. Their prime tactic was to not follow SOP, (Their own, published SOP was totally ignored by their staff), and then not pick up the phone. Secondary tactic was to have the empathy of a brick.

I only got my bag back because a lady in Virgin sales took pity on me. And even then they delivered it 12 hours later than promised. And they refused any compensation for the stuff I had to buy.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:19 pm
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I’m sorry but I haven’t laughed so much at a FT thread since your escapade to the USA with your nephew and him saying grace....

Ive had mishandled bags twice in 10years, once BA flying NCL-LHR-ABZ (don’t ask) bag made later ABZ flight so a trip back to airport to get a couple of hours later. The other was AA in CUN I had essentials in hand luggage was given a number to call to pre approve any additional purchases and luggage was on early morning flight the following day and in my room when I went back after breakfast.

Only other time was 2001 on a NCL LGW JER route bag not made it to Jersey was last flight of day so told it would follow the following day. 5 mins later on the bus and I get a call the bag was in the hold of the aircraft, I said I was already on the bus they said they would wait 10 mins and sent it in a taxi which pulled up the same time as I did.

Unless i I am doing a day trip I never travel HBO, don’t know how people can manage without their liquids.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:24 pm
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It's some years since a bag went astray on me, and I check one almost every time.

So between me and c-w-s, our bags get mislaid once a year (weighted by handwave guess at flying frequency).
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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:37 pm
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Why canít BA have the same bag tracking feature in its app that AA has?
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Old Jul 15, 18, 4:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Tim_T View Post
Why canít BA have the same bag tracking feature in its app that AA has?
At their open day 2 years ago they had prototypes of digital tags that would sync with your boarding pass and change the tag and youíd go to a self drop, yiur boarding pass would update with status throughout journey.

The AA app is great but itís only as reliable to some extent. On my AA delayed bag it showed as loaded on aircraft. But not unloaded at destination. Then 8 hours later it went back in the system as in baggage sorting office at JFK then itís normal status.
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Old Jul 15, 18, 5:02 pm
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Another quick question, why does it take forever for domestic bags to arrive on the carosels? The biscuits were being offered in GF this morning. Seemed they had to many and did'nt know what to do with them that hey were giving boxes out to those who asked.

Last edited by tedcruz; Jul 15, 18 at 5:41 pm
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Old Jul 15, 18, 5:33 pm
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Originally Posted by tedcruz View Post
Another quick question, why does it take forever for domestic bags to arrive on the carosels?
Is this partly about perception? You can be at the domestic claim within 2 minutes of getting off the plane, and even if youíre down the back in row 16, it typically doesnít take more than 10 minutes between doors opening and getting to the carousel.

Meanwhile - I think? - the baggage handlers have to physically lift the suitcases out one at a time, then they have to be taken to the claim. Although I have a feeling I read somewhere recently that T5 has baggage ramps to the stands themselves, that still takes a bit longer than us self-loading freight (to say nothing of places where luggage handlers use tugs and baggage trolleys where the manual handling happens at both ends). Then the baggage still has to trundle itís way through the conveyors at walking pace.
I remember reading somewhere about a (US?) airport which after a refurb began to receive complaints about delays at baggage reclaim. Upon investigation it was found that the actual time taken hadnít changed - but passengers were now getting to the carousel much more quickly than the luggage, so perceived there to be a much greater wait.

The solution, if I recall, was to divert passengers so they had much further to walk, and arrived at reclaim at the same time as bags were emerging. Complaints about the delay disappeared - it was all about perception. Much easier to feel youíre making progress when youíre striding purposefully than twiddling your thumbs at a carousel.
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