I have not been able to write because-Life! Oh well, All my luggage are lost somewhere in Europe or may be in transit to Lagos Nigeria, so while I am battling with the airline and with the insurance company (which thankfully I added to this flight) I am also immersed in my Job. Just in case you do not know, I have a full time 8-5 Job as a Supply Chain Specialist/Engineer.
As my baggage claim progresses, I will write about it just to educate everyone on what to do in situations as such. Travel as I always say, is the best teacher. A lot of experiences garnered along the way, teaches better than any classroom ever can hence the saying “landlord travel and see”.
So how did my baggage get lost? Let me start from the very beginning;
I missed my flight! Those who know me, know this is quite a popular occurrence in my life, however this time it is was not my fault.
I booked a flight to Dubrovnik from Geneva, flight was to depart at 9.30am. however, after boarding, the flight was delayed. No distinct reason was given by the pilot. The aircraft taxied in the airport for close to an hour before we finally departed. This flight was not a direct one. I had a connecting one in Barcelona. From the original schedule, there was to be a 1-hour layover in Barcelona, however with all the delays, the 1 hour was lost. We arrived Barcelona airport at about 11:40am, disembarking from the flight, security and passport control, then identifying the boarding gate and eventually arriving there, I could not make that boarding, despite even pleading with people on the security queue to let me go past them which they did.
Let me digress. The airports in first world countries can make even the most educated person humble! Some airports are as large as a city and operate trains or buses to carry passengers from one part of the airport to another. A typical example is the 5-star Munich airport in Germany! This airport is so high tech that there are virtual information stands at designated corners just to support people on how to find places and use the airport. You stand in front of a box like machine and dial in, then a customer care representative pops up on the screen who you speak to about the assistance required. Feels like a regular video call on a large ATM.
The extra large monitor screens share information on flights and boarding gates, time as expected and some gates can be annoyingly far. This was my case in Barcelona. My gate was D32. I had to go past all of A down to D, then at D go from 1-32. You dare not miss the signs. Some involved taking the stairs/Escalator to go up and also come down as needed.
Back to my story, I finally got to my gate at 12:08pm but my “Chi” was not with me that day. Boarding had closed 2 minutes before. I had to go through passport control again, get stamped out then look for the airlines office. This was the biggest hurdle ever. Nowhere to find anyone who understood English who could direct me correctly. Even to find the regular information desk of the airport was almost impossible.
My greatest mistake was to have checked in everything including my hand luggage. I paid 34 Euro shortly before boarding, online for 23Kg weight so I thought to add my hand luggage just because the main one was just 18kg. I wanted to be “free”. I finally found an official to speak to who advised I go to baggage claim first just to be very sure of the location of my luggage. I found out that my bags were not in Barcelona and did not see anything wrong with this because of course it was tagged for Dubrovnik at the origin. I was given a voucher valued at 12Euro for a meal. After walking all over the airport for more than 1 hour, I finally found the airlines customer service desk. What a relief!
Relief however was shortlived as they used the supposed ETA of the airline to insist I missed the flight and insinuated it was from my own sheer carelesness. Initially they assumed I was an American till I brought my passport out and I could literally see the enthusiasm leave their faces. Finally, a god-sent manager decided to resolve the case and she asked for my boarding passes and made phone calls. After investigations she issued me a priority ticket to Munich-Germany on a 17:55pm flight and then another at 9:50pm via Croatia Air to Dubrovnik. My wait time at the airport from 11:40am was a total of 6 hours! It was a situation of going backwards in other to go forward. I was also assured that my bags will be re-routed to Munich. I took the opportunity to go into Barcelona city for a few hours. I had to use taxis to move around just so I could be swift and not miss my flight. This was quite expensive.
I arrived Munich and still could not find my bags, now I knew I was in trouble! I filled and filed a complaint form at the airlines office there at the airport. I was in a hurry to catch my next flight so I could not wait till my information is typed into their system and then take my form, I was then asked to leave as I was to receive my claim Number via SMS. What I did not know at the time is that the airline did not operate in Munich but had an affiliate and the form I filled was from the affiliated company. I should have known this because the airline put me on Croatia Air (Lufthansa) to my destination as they do not fly there from Munich. I was too preoccupied with my various troubles to have this in mind but even if I did know though, I had no choice.
The most valuable resource we have in life is time. This is true even more for traveling. For international flights it is always safe to arrive 2 hours earlier however the safest time frame especially for an airport one is unaccustomed to is 3 hours. You could check in online or use the self-service check in option at the counter to help with timing. Also, boarding gates usually do not get displayed on monitors until 30/45 minutes to boarding times and gate details could change so some level of vigilance is required.
In other news, Turkey is opening the world’s largest airport this month. I cannot wait see it.
I will keep you updated on the progress or not of the retrieval of my luggages.
This is just one ordeal in the midst of all the plenty fun I had on this trip.. I have so many more amazing stories of the parts of the world I have recently seen, coming up soon.