Is there anything worse than lost luggage? Yes, actually. Lost luggage when attending a conference. That can be truly frightening. This happened to me recently and this is the story of how I fixed it.
This is the story of lost luggage. Just last week actually on my way to a conference called Blogher, I arrived without my luggage. That was a first for me as a traveler. I have heard many stories over the years of people losing their luggage but this was apparently my turn.
I was on my way to a business conference for bloggers called Blogher 14 in San Jose, California. It was only a four day trip. Sure I could have packed a roll on suitcase, but the kids had them both at camp. I opted to check my luggage as I usually do, because I hate lugging suitcases around on the airplane. I hate the drama that ensues often at the gate when some ticket agent declares that there are too many already on the plane so put them on the cart please and thank you and you won’t see it again until you land. If you’ve ever been to a blogging conference then you know – you need clothes, and shoes and makeup and you need to sell yourself as a brand. Last year, in Chicago I had two entire large suitcases packed full of brand samples and professional outfits when I returned. It’s pretty common to travel to these events with a suitcase inside a suitcase so you can take all of the products that are given out back home with you. Go big or go home when you go to Blogher.
I checked my suitcase and watched it get loaded onto American Airlines in Toronto, (Darling husband decorated it with my daughter’s fluorescent duct tape so I would have no trouble identifying my suitcase) I flew 6 hours, switched planes late at night in Los Angeles and landed exhausted. But no suitcase ever emerged from the luggage carousel. Ditto for a family behind me and ditto for my seat mate, a young man meeting his girlfriend so they could go camping immediately that night (without clothing as it turned out).
Wait, what seriously? I watched the thing get on the plane. I asked:”Will it follow me?” and was told it would. But apparently it didn’t. At 11 p.m. California time, which is 2 a.m. back home, an American Airlines representative told me they didn’t think my luggage left Toronto. I tried my best not to cry out of sheer exhaustion. I swore under my breath and texted my roommate all the while thinking – how could this happen? I sent a tweet off to the airline. “Fuming. @AmericanAir Lost my luggage before a business conference.” Lost luggage. NIGHTMARE! What would I sleep in? What would I wear in the morning? Where is my makeup? I am not a no makeup fan girl. Christy @Imfreckles offered to let me borrow some pyjamas. Grateful I chose a good roomie.
No makeup. No clothes. No clean bra or underpants? That night I fell asleep in borrowed pyjamas after using hand soap to clean my face. Morning arrived and still no word on lost luggage. A conference full of brands and meetings and parties where brands invite you privately to get to know more about their product and no clothes? Mortified. No cute little black and white dress my husband bought me for my birthday. No new shoes I bought to go with cute little dress. Our first session, a maternal health talk with some brands that are perfect for my blog and my audience, is scheduled for 2 p.m. I have nothing to wear but yesterday’s sweaty airplane clothes. It’s 11 a.m. The Fairmont sent a kit of toiletries to the room when I asked for a toothbrush, and I have never been happier to see a teeny tube of toothpaste. No sign of luggage, so I threw sweaty old clothing on, grabbed my purse and Christy and I walked to the nearest Walgreens and Ross store. Face cream, check, mascara, check, rouge, powder, eye shadow, check, check, check.
Two hours later, we returned, armed with $175 worth of makeup, two dresses and a top, a sleep shirt and some underwear, plus two pairs of shoes in neutral colours, in my size. Relieved, I am ready to take on the conference. Still disappointed but I am making the best of it. I tweet American Airlines a couple more times. They found my lost luggage, an agent said. I am cautiously hopeful based on the fact that their on line report identified my luggage as yellow when in fact it’s reddish orange.
By now, half a dozen friends messaged me on Facebook to commiserate and point out that’s why they never check luggage when they travel. One blogger Helene said they had a string of lost luggage events 7 or 8 times. Clearly I have been sheltered. This was the first time my luggage ever went missing. It is my travel nightmare. Back at the Fairmont San Jose we swing by the front desk to see if anyone might have found my lost luggage. The service person advised: go ask the person in charge of luggage.
Out front, I am asking said person if anyone dropped anything off for me when I spy the fluorescent pink duct tape on my scuffed up case. No phone call as promised by the airline, and heaven only knows how long it was there, but my suitcase arrived. It was lost, then found. Hallelujah. I made it to the 2 p.m. session with Christy with my game face on.
(All was not lost. I returned some of the items I bought because I kept receipts. I didn’t consider whether I have insurance coverage for lost luggage before I left home for the event. I would check that next time before I travel.)
Has an airline ever lost your luggage? What did you do?