Flying The Friendly Skies With American Airlines Is Less Friendly Without Luggage

I was in Houston. My underwear was not. I have American Airlines to thank for this. ss

In all fairness, American didn’t just leave my underwear sitting all by itself on the tarmac somewhere. They also left the rest of my clothing, toiletries and sundry other travel necessities. I’m just most annoyed about the underwear.

It wouldn’t seem getting a single suitcase from point A to point B would be an incredibly difficult task. Get on the plane with roughly 20 other people and their luggage, arrive in Houston, pick up your suitcase at the baggage claim with the other 20 passengers and be on your merry way. This has been the routine when I had to book a domestic flight through Costa Rica and for every flight I’ve ever been on. Including two trips to a third world country and a military transport. Air Yak and the U.S. government have been able to load my suitcases on a plane and deliver them at the same time and destination they deliver me to.

Sadly this time it was not to be. Instead I waited patiently while my fellow passengers, including my traveling partner, gathered their duly delivered bags. Mine never made an appearance. Ten minutes later I became intimately familiar with the term “delayed baggage.” To me this indicated my suitcase had stopped off  for a little sightseeing and would be along shortly. Believe it or not that isn’t what American means by ‘delayed.’

Delayed baggage is the term American uses in lieu of ‘we lost your bag, can’t find it and don’t know where it might be or when it will turn up again. Best of luck to you.’ There are also forms to fill out and you get assigned your very own six digit number so that you can log onto American’s website at any time to check on the progress of your luggage. Assuming it has been located.

After six days you can turn in receipts along with reams of paperwork and if American approves of the purchases you made to replace what they lost you’ll get your money back. At some point in the hazy future.

The policy was explained to me at midnight by an obviously bored American Airlines employee who clearly didn’t understand my distress. Possibly because she had her own underwear at home waiting for her and didn’t have to worry about shopping for a new wardrobe prior to a 9 a.m. presentation the following day.

My traveling partner had extra clothes but since I don’t carry off the Annie Hall look well he wasn’t of much assistance. Though I could at least borrow something to sleep in.

After the fastest shopping trip of my life the next day, followed by a two hour long meeting during which a tag I forgot to remove kept poking me in the side, I received a call from American Airlines. My bags had been found and would be delivered to my home address right away.

In the end my suitcase made it back home before I did. As a bonus to the experience American let me know that since they were so prompt in finding the bag they lost, they wouldn’t need to reimburse me for the items I’d purchased.

Next time I think we’ll fly Delta.