Surviving Lost Luggage in India
Yes it finally happened to me and to two other women on The Women’s Travel Group October India trip when British Airways had a computer meltdown and misplaced 5,000 bags at Heathrow. Now I know that lost luggage stages go on a trajectory and with a happy ending 99999.9999% of the time. Here are a few things you can do to reduce the inconvenience and related stress of lost luggage.
Stages and What You Can Do About Each One
Stage 1 Adrenaline in the airport when your luggage does not arrive on the conveyor belt. Then the rush to get a luggage claim report and papers filled out correctly while navigating others in the same situation. Don’t forget to take a photo of your luggage tag and any paperwork with your phone. You should before travel keep notes about the size, color and make of your luggage if you use many different bags on trips. Label your suitcase well inside and out. When you fill out the claim form, put the dates and addresses of each upcoming hotel so they can track you as you move. That means you need to have your trip documents in your carry on.
Stage 2 Exhaustion follow up: once out of the airport with nothing to your name but a carry on (this was the one time I did not bring a change of clothes in carry on!!!). But at least access to a bottle of cold water, keep your head and drink even if you don’t want to, after a long flight. Don’t let your worry and angst outpace your health.
Stage 3 Frenzy: when realizing that luggage might not come for a while; this worry is dumb as 99.99% of luggage is delivered within a day and 5,000 bags delayed is a small number for an airline. Get your head back on and realize that each minute is a minute closer to resolution. Have someone at home contact the airline also or ask us at The Women’s Travel Group to do it for you if on our tours. Baggage tags are bar coded for quick retrieval; don’t forget to actually look at the tag when you are at the initial check in counter to check your airport codes. It can happen if you are going to an exotic place that personnel can make an error in coding the tag.
Stage 4 Organizing: buying what one needs in terms of personal products and something to sleep in plus a change of shirts. Keep and notate receipts, which the airline will want. Many airlines pay you based on your class of service not just on receipts. Underwear can be washed and dried with the hairdryer as it is hard to replace quickly. Just wash what you need immediately with hotel shampoo and hang to dry. Treat yourself to nice products, you have earned these. You might need help from hotel personnel to identify good products in other countries.
Stage 5 Hotel check in: a thrill to see the clean robe, bathroom products, shower and bed. Revel in it and put your baggage worries aside for a few minutes. Cry if you need to. On all women trips everyone has something for you to borrow. You can ask the hotel for other needs which might not be in your bathroom: toothbrush and toothpaste for instance.
Stage 6 Relief: First morning of tour in Delhi India, with 8 hours of sleep in a clean bed and a hot shower-what a different sleep and cleanliness make. Then the happy computer message from British Airways, all 5,000 bags to be delivered by the next day (Day 2). Our office calls BA for the three of us, and voila: there is our luggage that night happily waiting at the hotel after a day of touring. Not even Day 2, but Day 1. Christmas in October. So patience is the theme and push aside panic— medicines and electronics should be in carry on anyway. And hotel doctors can replace most medicines anyway. When you call a hotel doctor, tell him ahead of time the name of the drug you need to replace so he can bring it with him. Know your drugs in the generic.
So what do we learn from this: it is not a tragedy, just an inconvenience and solvable by administrative measures. Borrow from others if offered, without feeling guilty or helpless; women are always there for each other: a thread of floss? Some clean socks? A tee shirt even if mis-sized? And or course, next time carry on a few clothing items just in case, with your electronic devices and chargers, plus medicines.
Some encouragement from The Women’s Travel Group.
PS already got $51 from BA, direct deposit into my Chase account, for the purchases via a sophisticated claim system. You do need a smart phone to take photos of your receipts and notes of what each one is. Ours were in Indian rupees so noting what each item is was helpful in identifying shirts, etc.