Paradise found…

January 19, 2006

SwissportI refer not to the lovely beaches of Kendwa in Zanzibar, but to our luggage!

28 days after checking our bags in Bolivia we finally have them back. In fairness, mine came back five days before Soyan’s, after only 23 days of being “delayed” and this included a trip to Nairobi, Kenya which even I haven’t had time to visit.

Malaysian Airlines was the legally responsible party and Swissport are their representatives in South Africa and Tanzania. While I can forgive the general incompetence of Swissport, I can’t forgive the tendency to lie in an effort to hide the incompetence.

There were countless promises that were not honored, lies about where I had asked for the bags to be sent, complete ignorance as to the location of my bags, and assurances that they were on flights that they weren’t on.

In contrast, the folks at American Express Global Assist were pretty terrific. I have spoken them at least 25 times and they must have called and emailed Swissport and various airports at least 100 times and probably closer to 200. This includes calling every half hour when they are supposed to be open, but nobody answers. This also includes calling every half hour when the manager vanished into a “meeting” for an entire day.

I’ll be submitting a detailed claim to Air Malaysia for the costs incurred for my “delayed” luggage and we’ll see if they do the right thing.

In the meantime a couple quick tips for what you should do if you are travelling to Africa, since 5 of 27 people in my group had their luggage lost or delayed, and what you should (and should not) say to your friends when their luggage is lost.

Tips to save yourself headaches if your luggage is “delayed”:

  • Know the brand, model and color of your luggage.
  • Have some sort of distinctive tag or marker on the outside.
  • Have your name, address and phone number in a sturdy luggage tag on the outside, not just one of the paper ones from the airline. They tear off too eaisily.
  • Have your name, address and phone number on the inside too. This is in case the tags are lost and they need to open the bag.
  • Keep track of which bag corresponds to which claim check. I know this sounds crazy, but it would have saved us a lot of hassle when my bag was returned without the claim check.
  • Wear your hiking boots on the plane.
  • Carry your prescription medicines and medical supplies on the plane.
  • Carry any chargers (and plug adaptors) with you for any electronics you carry with you, such as your cell phone and camera.
  • Carry a minimum selection of toiletries with you if you can bear it. It is not essential because these can be easily purchased and hotels often have them, but it is nice not to have to bother tracking them down after a long trip.

What to say (and not say) to your firends if they lose their luggage:

  • Say: “I am so sorry, is there anything I can loan you?” or “That really sucks, how can I help?” or just “Man what a bummer!”
  • Do not say anything that appears on the list above. They already know all that now. What they want is a little sympathy, maybe some toothpaste and a t shirt, but not a damn lecture!

1 Comment »

  1. ah..the memories..of lost luggage!!! argh!

    hope ya’ll are doing well :)

    Comment by Marisa — February 9, 2006 @ 1:57 am

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