Carry-on Fail with United

Yesterday I embarked on a frankly horrendous return trip from a great conference event in San Diego presented by EXL titled Digital Marketing Medical Device West. I presented a case study, listened to another and the event closed 3:00 p.m. PST.

At 5:00 p.m. PST I took a cab from Hard Rock Cafe to the airport. My first flight was from San Diego to San Francisco. It was announced that the flight was full and as it was a small plane, all carry-on bags that were upright would need to be tagged, leave them at the end of the ramp, and pick them up there when the flight was over. No problem.

Then my next flight was from San Francisco to Newark. On this flight it was requested that individuals with rolling bags check them. I was sitting in row 7D, first row behind first class. I was one of the earliest groups to board and therefore was certain I’d be able to stow both bags. Since the airline made the request, however, I complied and checked my bag. I was told it would be available at baggage claim, which I thought was a bit odd since I was taking a United shuttle from Newark to Allentown.

I took my bag check claim and settled in for the overnight flight.

When we arrived, there was no bag on the ramp. I went to my next gate, inquired about my bag and was told it would be on the shuttle. I asked if she was certain because the person mentioned bag claim and I didn’t know where the shuttle picked us up, should I check baggage claim? Again, no it will be on the shuttle.

Two hours later when the shuttle was ready to board I asked the driver if I could look at the bags in the back to see if mine was with them. He said he didn’t have them, he would pick them up after we boarded and I couldn’t get off the shuttle and check, you needed a hard card. I asked which side of the shuttle would afford me a view of the bags he was bringing, he said the left and I sat there.

When we drove to the baggage area he got four bags, none of which were mine. He noted that there were already some bags on the shuttle (so why couldn’t I see those?).

When we arrived in Allentown he unloaded the bags and mine was not there.

I went inside to file a claim, was asked to provide my tag, which I did, and was told she needed to get her manager.

Another person had three bags missing, but apparently had missed a flight, so slightly different situation.

The manager asked me for the claim ticket and I said I gave it to the woman who called him. A few minutes later I see them looking under keyboards, in papers, the garbage in the area she was working. They lost my claim ticket.

Using my boarding pass, they accessed whatever they needed to access and created my claim for lost luggage. I got an email confirming this on the spot at 11:34 a.m.

At 2:20 p.m. I called the number in the email and was informed that they were looking for the luggage.

What’s the big deal? I have my electric razor, toothbrush, cologne, dress shoes, belt, tie, dress pants and blazer I used to present my case study. I had the gifts I bought my girls from my trip to San Diego. Plus, it is a brand new bag I got at the holiday’s from my mother-in-law, and I really like it.

After going through security in San Diego, I had moved the electronics I wouldn’t need on the plane to this bag in order to lighten the load in my backpack, this included the audio recorder used to record my presentation, the remote and laser pointer I brought just in case, several charger cords, and my company laptop.

Why would I do this? I had no intention of this bag being handled by anyone other than me. They were with me the entire time, up until United required and then requested they be stowed.

My frustration is that United doesn’t appear to have a consistent approach. I don’t mind the bag being taken off the ramp into storage and put back on the ramp. I have an issue with it being mixed in with checked baggage and inserted into a logistics system it wasn’t intended to be a part of.

I also have a problem with the employees finding reasons why we couldn’t check on the baggage when there was time and opportunity to do so, simply because it was easier to do nothing and have me complain to a person in Allentown than themselves.

Finally, I’m a bit concerned that they haven’t made any progress locating it in three hours.

I’ll keep you posted on how this goes, but so far, it is a big fail in my eyes for United.

[Update: I Tweeted this post, and United replied asking if I filed a claim]

[Update: I called again at 4:53 and got the stock message that they were trying to locate my bag, I hit 0 until I got a customer service representative. She was able to tell me that the bag was found and was being transported from Newark to Allentown. She knew it was scheduled to arrive in Allentown at 9:35 p.m., but did not know when I would receive it.]

[Update: United tweeted second time asking if we had agreed on a delivery as I mentioned it was apparently found based on call with operator, I replied that no one from United has contact me and that I have now taken Friday off of work hoping to get the bag with my laptop.]

[Update: Despite the email saying United would be in touch with me daily, no one from United except Twitter account has contacted me as of 9:00 am Friday morning]

[Update: Called at 9:15 a.m. Friday, message says they are searching for my bag and will contact me when they have an update.]

[Update: Since I have an appointment two minutes from the airport this morning, I decided to speak to an agent. Last night, the bag was supposed to have been delivered from Newark to Allentown at 9:35 p.m. The agent said there was no confirmation that the bag has arrived in Allentown it’s last known whereabouts were New Jersey. I asked for a phone number at Allentown and was told I could not have one. I explained that I will be near the airport and would be happy to pick it up. He said he couldn’t do that and that once they know where my bag is located they will update me.]

[Update: Decided to drive to ABE and inquire about my bag, if it left Newark and was heading to ABE, hard to believe it didn’t get there even if United had no record of it. I arrived and yes my bag was there. I was told the tag didn’t have enough information for them to enter into the system and they apologized for breaking my luggage tag inside of which was my name, email, and cell number. No they never bothered to contact me.]

[Update: When I turned my computer on I found the screen was damaged. There is a line running top to bottom, two-thirds of the way across my screen. Lovely. Per United’s Twitter team I’ll be filing another complaint, but I’m not expecting much.]


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