So, I got to the airport with my two allowable carry-on bags. American Airlines forced me to check one and then promptly lost it. Well to be fair they didn’t actually lose it. The Miami ground crew decided not to put it on my plane. They chose instead to send it down on the next flight. No worries, right? They would simply forward it to me wherever I happen to be staying in Nassau. Too bad I wasn’t staying.
I was working on a cruise ship that I was scheduled to board at 3pm. The next flight (which was delayed) was due in at 5pm. The ship was leaving the port at 6pm. If that sounds tight, it was; and the 45-minute drive from the airport to the seaport made it viselike.
That’s why I pleaded with American Airlines to let me take my bag on board my flight out of New York. I travel a lot and I know that it fits in the overhead, but The Bag Czar would not be deterred. Once they start insisting that you put your bag in the measuring bin — which is quite a bit smaller than the overhead space on a jet plane — resistance is futile.
“Oh you have plenty of time between flights,” she said. “Your bag will make the flight.”
“Time is not the issue,” I said. “It’s weight.”
I explained that it’s a smaller plane from Miami to Nassau. A smaller plane means there’s a fuel–to–weight ratio that must be maintained. They can’t very well unload passengers, but they’ll think nothing of de-planing a bag or two. I asked if there was some kind of note that could be attached to the reservation or onto the bag itself telling the ground crew that this one was not okay to be left behind. Wasn’t there some consideration that could be made for frequent flyers or for people who were not staying in Nassau? What exactly was the point of my “elite status” if that sort of arrangement couldn’t be made? Besides I wasn’t on vacation. I was working.
She flashed me a vapid, Stepford Wife smile and assured me that everything was going to be fine. I knew it was not. I tried not to fret about it: Pip-pip, cheerio, a stiff upper lip and all that, but it was difficult when I saw people get on the plane with bags that were exactly the same size as mine, stuffed to capacity and smoothly slide them into the overhead.
When I stood at baggage claim in Nassau and saw the outside baggage door slam shut and the carousel grind to a halt, I knew the worst case scenario was now at hand. I pictured myself spending the next few days decked out in the finest the cruise ship gift shop had to offer.
I also started picturing what was in my bag that I might not see for a while, or ever again. All my valuable valuables were of course still with me: Electronics? Check. Jewelry? Check. Teddy Bear? Check. But all of my clothes were in the forcibly checked and now supposedly in-transit bag. They may not be designer duds, but they are nice clothes. I feel like I’m one of the few stand-up comedians who even bothers to dress nicely on stage anymore. Everyone else seems to select an outfit that gives them versatility to choose between doing a comedy show or yard work. But who was I to judge? I was about to do a formal night show in pastel pink capri pants and a T-shirt.
Although the plane with my bag landed on time, getting it back didn’t appear promising. A cruise ship might wait for a late-arriving passenger, but not for a crew member and certainly not for a crew member’s really cute silver Delsey suitcase.
But heroic efforts were afoot. The Ship’s Agent(port to ship coordinator) was in touch with the MSA (Manager of Staff Administration), who was in touch with the woman who was driving my suitcase in a golf cart alongside the ship as it was pulling out of the pier. Like a riveting rescue scene out of a movie, my bag was hoisted aboard the ship as it was sailing out of the harbor and into the sunset. End Scene.
I, of course, saw none of this. Already preparing for the worst, I was in the ship’s gift shop cobbling together an ensemble that wouldn’t make me look like Barbara Bush. The Assistant Cruise Director found me about an hour before show time to tell me the good news. “We have your bag!” he said.
“What? Really? Seriously?”
I ran to the Crew Office and for one horrible moment I thought, “What if they brought the wrong bag?” But no, it was my well-worn, silver Delsey. I was so relieved. Now I could return all the clothes I bought and didn’t want, including the extra large, white, Hanes granny panties that could have doubled as a smock.
Although this story has a happy ending, my mild disgust with American Airlines is bubbling up into an active hatred. Why? This is not the first time this little drama has happened to me. It’s the second, which is two times too many. I assure you, a third time will not be charming.
It’s bad enough passengers get no pillows, blankets, movies, or food on American’s domestic flights, not even so much as a bag of peanuts! But, the airline’s arbitrary bag policies are petty and punitive. You’re on notice American Airlines! Don’t let this happen again or else! Or else what?
Oh hell, I’m at your mercy, aren’t I? I’m subject to the whims of your Gate Gremlins who are probably angry that they themselves never get to go anywhere. I am filled to the brim with bile over the fact that I really have absolutely no recourse here. Call your complaint line, for what purpose? To give the person who might answer practice saying, “I’m so sorry to hear that.”?
My Blog is really as good as it gets and even here I have to be careful what I vent. In this post-911 era, any threat I make against an airline, it’s CEO, or the CEO’s mother is probably going to get me on a watch list and suddenly lost luggage will be the least of my problems. So I’m reduced to a brief and sincere, heartfelt appeal:
Dear American Airlines,
Please stop f%@#%*!g over your passengers.
Love, The Very Disgruntled Bag Lady
******* NOTE: American Airlines has read this post and responded! Read it HERE! *******
Join The Urban Erma on Facebook or follow on Twitter. You can listen to the podcast on Podbean or subscribe on iTunes. Leighann Lord is a stand-up comedian, who's style is best described as "Thinking Cap Comedy." If comedy were music, she'd be Jazz. Check out her upcoming shows @ www.VeryFunnyLady.com. Join her on FaceBook. Follow her on Twitter.