Monday, May 6, 2013

Missing Luggage

Flight #51 – United 6386
San Francisco (SFO) – Boise (BOI)
Saturday, May 4, 2013
Depart: 4:16PM / Arrive: 6:56PM 
Duration: 1hr 40min 
Aircraft: Canadian Regional Jet 200
Seat: 4D and 4F (Economy) 
Earned: 522 miles 
Lifetime Miles: 101,066 miles

While Flight #50 was a memorable one for hitting my 100,000 miles flown mark, Flight #51 was less than spectacular. The flight itself was actually fine. I behaved myself well, and my family arrived in Boise safe, sound, and on-time.

However, some of our checked luggage was 2 out of 3.

Usually, since my parents are elites with United Airlines, we get those special neon orange Priority tags on our checked bags. I'm not sure the ground crew at the airports really care about that, but about 90%+ of the time, we're one of the first bags to come out at baggage claim, and we're on our way out the door before everyone else has collected their things.

Tight SFO Connection

But what we didn't have an appreciation for is how our tight connection in San Francisco wasn't just an issue for us passengers. Our incoming flight from Vancouver landed around 3:30PM on Saturday. Our next flight for Boise was leaving at 4:16PM (only a 46 minute layover), which meant that boarding for BOI would start at 3:46PM, just 16 minutes after we landed!

When my father first noticed this tight connection last week, he immediately called the travel agent who booked him. She assured him that it was a "legal connection" and that the airline IT system would not allow it if it weren't. Hmm, OK. Given that there was a second flight leaving later that evening, my father didn't make a big fuss.

Fortunately, we had a few things going for us. First, when flying to the US from Vancouver, you can actually go through US Customs/Immigration at the Vancouver Airport right after the security check. So this feature saved us time in San Francisco since we'd be arriving in the SFO domestic Terminal 3 and could more easily transfer to our next flight's departure gate instead of having to exit through customs/immigration and then pick up our stuff at baggage claim, then transfer to the domestic terminals and re-check everything and go through another TSA security checkpoint.

Second, our second flight changed its departure gate from Terminal 1 Gate 31 to Terminal 3 Gate 69. And our inbound flight arrived at Terminal 3 Gate 73. So instead of having to take an SFO airport shuttle bus across the airport, we could just walk 300 feet to the next gate. That undoubtedly saved us a ton of time as well.

So despite a little stress when our gate-checked stroller didn't get off the plane quickly after we landed, we made it to Gate 69 with time to spare as that inbound flight was delayed a bit. So when they called passengers to board, we were smooth sailing and took our seats on the small regional jet.

Arriving in Boise

When we landed around 7PM local time, we took a few "Welcome to Boise" photos as we walked past the closed terminal shops and restaurants. I guess not a lot of people fly on Saturday nights. The car rental desks are actually located before baggage claim, so my father checked in and picked up the keys to his 2013 Toyota 4Runner (upgraded from a midsize Toyota Corolla or Nissan Sentra) and went to Baggage Carousel #5 to get our three bags.

As you probably noticed from the post title, our scheduled rendezvous with our checked suitcases went awry. My father found my car seat bag pretty quickly, but then noticed the priority tagged luggage stopped coming and it was a steady stream of regular tagged luggage.

I looked at my father and saw a hint of panic in his face. Then as the carousel finally stopped, concern gave way to intense frustration. I suggested my father take a photo of the empty carousel for me to use on my LCD blog, but he was not amused. So we just had to use this photo I found on Google Images.

United Airlines Delayed Luggage

We went to the Delayed Luggage and filled out a report. They confirmed that our 2 suitcases were still in San Francisco and didn't make the connecting flight. The bright side was that United had a later flight scheduled to arrive at 11:30PM that night, and they would deliver our bags to our hotel for free.

When we got to our hotel, my mother (since the bags were checked under her name) received this email:

Dear Valued Customer, 
We regret that your baggage was not available to claim after your recent flight. Everything possible will be done to locate your property and return it to you promptly. 
For information regarding your delayed baggage, contact the United Airlines Baggage Resolution Center at its 24 hour, seven day a week number:
  • 1-800-335-BAGS (2247) (US - Toll Free)
  • 281-821-3526 (Local Houston Number) 
Or visit As soon as you filed your Delayed Baggage Report, United began tracing for your baggage system wide. Our Baggage Resolution staff will make every effort to call you once a day to keep you updated on our progress. 
So that we can quickly access your records, please refer to the File Reference Number on this receipt when corresponding or calling. 
Retain this receipt with your claim check and E-Ticket receipt until your baggage is returned to you. 
In most circumstances, United will deliver your baggage when it is located. Delivery times vary depending on location.  
If your baggage has not been returned to you within the initial five day tracing period, please download a claim form at and return it to us with the required documentation included.
Truth be told, getting a confirmation email with all our details did make us feel better. Since my father hates uncertainty, he tracked that inbound flight online and called the phone number as soon as it landed to confirm that our luggage arrived. They confirmed our bags were on that flight and would be picked up and delivered that evening.

Then later on that evening at 12:08AM, we received a second email from someone called Now this email was super comforting!
Your baggage is now out for delivery. Your driver's name is Brittany, you can see a photo of your driver and follow the delivery route, by clicking on the link below:[redacted] 
Delivery Address: [redacted]
If you see any errors in the above information, please go to the website, by clicking the link above and make the necessary corrections. The driver will be notified right away. 
Thank you,
Of course, by this time, it was WAY past my bedtime and I sound asleep in bed, but by the time I awoke Sunday morning, my father had gone downstairs and picked up our suitcases. Crisis (aka, my father stuck all weekend shopping at Target) averted.

No comments:

Post a Comment