Where luggage goes to die

It wasn’t pretty.  In the dark corners of the Fumincino airport, down corridors dusty from lack of use, and behind locked doors dozens of pieces of luggage sat forlorn, abandoned.  They started out just as our bags had.

The story of luggage began simply enough.  To avoid the excessive fees British Airways charges for reserving a seat (above & beyond ticket costs — reserving seats to and from Italy would have added $600 to our total cost) we opted to check the website 24 hours before the flight and take what seats were left.  What got lost in the process was that we had checked in two bags for our Alaska connecting flight. 

No worries.  We arrived in San Francisco and the helpful BA representative caught the mistake and corrected it.  All taken care of she said.  Nearly 10 hours later we arrived in Rome, but our bags didn’t.  We watched the  carousel go round & round, hoping they were just going to be late.  Finally we accepted that our bags were MIA and joined  the line of other travelers with lost or damaged luggage.  Being Italy the line was a bit casual, but very vocal with lots of hand gestures.  Filing the paperwork turned out to be surprisingly easy and efficient thanks to the Italian subcontractor for British Air, Avia.  And we were told to call BA the next morning and provided us with back-up phone numbers for the airlines and the local contractor.

Only big concern was we were in Rome for less than 48 hours before heading on.   Could BA get our bags to us before we left Rome?  Multiple flights a day from Lond to Rome.  Sure.  The next day British Air reassured us our bags were on their way.  Strangely, however, they were about to be separated, one arriving in Rome before dinner and one after, but regardless they would be delivered to the hotel.  When we came back from dinner the bags had not arrived but the front desk sent us to bed with the comforting idea that delayed bags usually arrived around midnight.  That’s where the story takes a dark turn.  Midnight came and went and no bags!  A morning call to BA confirmed the bad news.  The bags were now officially lost.  They had been in London but were there no more. We were advised to file a claim if they didn’t show up in five days, but  BA offered no idea how they might be located.   They had lost the electronic trail.  Sorry.  Nothing more to be said.  Clearly, they were done with us.

Luckily the local contractor was more responsive.  After a desperate call to them, and while not offering any promises, they invited us to come search the rooms at Romes’s airport where luggage goes to die.  Getting back into baggage claim took some doing, complicated by the dozen or so other people also trying to swim against the security current.  But we made it.  

Again we stood in line for owners of lost luggage until we were escorted back into the non-public areas of the terminal.  In one room we found only my bag sitting in a long line of lost luggage, broken infant car seats and crushed boxes.  We were readyto abandon   the search for Peter’s bag when our escort explained without much enthusiasm there was a second room.  And there we found Peter’s bag sitting on a shelf.  Our escort seemed happier than we were and explained he thought we had no chance to find the bags.  Unbelievably, our two bags escaped the place where luggage goes to die!

Moral to the story.  Don’t lose your baggage claim tickets and always pack an extra set of clothes in your carry-on.

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