Today, we’d like to share with you the experience of one of our reporters on a domestic flight in the United States. Hailing from Japan, home of the airport that hasn’t lost a piece of luggage in 20 years, our reporter Yoshio wasn’t expecting the unthinkable to happen on his brief 45-minute flight – but somehow, his bag went missing. And ended up in Ecuador!

Join us after the jump to hear his story, featuring insurance claims, flight changes, and at least one trip to buy new underwear.

Yoshio’s flight was from Los Angeles to San Diego – two cities only 120 miles (190km) or so apart, and so the journey was a simple up-and-down flight lasting a mere 45 minutes. But at the baggage carousel, the bag that came out was a black suitcase. The only problem was, Yoshio’s suitcase was a big, bright-yellow one! Clearly, something had gone horribly wrong, he realised.

After consulting with the airline staff, Yoshio discovered that his suitcase had somehow been flown an incredible 3,500 miles away. The black bag in his possession belonged to someone on an Ecuador-bound flight from L.A.

▼ They’d gotten switched somehow!

DjtfmBPvia Mashable

“As soon as you find it, please send it on to me!” Yoshio implored the airline staff, and left the airport behind him. His immediate needs were more pressing: without his bag, he had no change of clothes, no toothbrush, and not even a jacket. But then he remembered – back in Japan, he had taken out travel insurance! He could make a claim for some toothbrush and underwear money, at least.

As soon as he could, Yoshio called the insurance company and explained the situation. It turns out that he could be eligible for a payout of up to US$1,000!

▼…give or take a few caveats.

An item counts as “lost luggage”, he learned, once it has been missing for six hours or more. To claim from the insurance company, he would have to provide them with proof that his bag had been lost, in the form of a document from the airline. His insurance would pay out on purchases made in the four days following the bag going missing.

This all seemed very irritating to Yoshio, but the last point especially. The clock was ticking! He had 96 hours to buy everything he needed – otherwise, he’d have to cover the cost himself! Our reporter set off for the mall at once to buy clothes and other essentials for the remainder of his trip.

After buying up everything he needed, Yoshio went to check in at his hotel, but he still couldn’t relax. He had no idea when his luggage would be delivered, or even if it would turn up at all. There was nothing for it. He decided to call the airline and ask to delay his return to Japan rather than risk flying home without his many belongings.

This is the conversation Yoshio had with the airline representative (he declined to mention which airline it was, but confirmed that it’s a major American one):

Yoshio: “My bag was lost, and I don’t know when it’s going to be delivered, so I’d like to change my flight to a later date.”

Staff: “Sir, your ticket is non-amendable. You can’t make changes to it.”

Yoshio: “Yes, I know that, but my suitcase has gone missing and that’s ruined my plans. I don’t even know where the bag is. Isn’t there anything you can do?”

Staff: “…I’ll check with my boss, please wait a moment.”

Ten minutes later, Yoshio was still on hold. Fifteen minutes…20 minutes…what was she doing? Forty minutes later, the hold music finally cut out.

Staff: “Sorry to keep you waiting! Ok, so I talked to my boss, and –”

Yoshio: W-w-w-wait a minute, wait a minute! What d’you mean, ‘Sorry to keep you waiting’!? I’ve been sitting here for 40 minutes! Couldn’t you at least have let me know how you were getting on?!”

Staff: “I’m really sorry about that. But, sir, I’ve been negotiating with my boss for you!”

This phone conversation with the staff member from the airline was taking place in Japanese, but Yoshio found himself getting increasingly irritated with the responses he was getting. Why, instead of apologising properly, did she keep trying to show off about how hard she was working, he thought.

Yoshio: “You negotiating with your boss is not the point. Why did you have to leave me waiting here for 40 minutes? Don’t you usually come back on the line and ask the customer if they’re okay to wait?”

Staff: “I’m very sorry. But, on this occasion we’ve been able to make an exception and change your ticket for you! And we’ve bumped you up to an Economy Plus seat with extra leg room.”

Well, it worked out okay in the end, then. And four days later…his suitcase turned up! “It was like being reunited with a lost puppy!” says Yoshio. After four days of not sleeping due to worry, he wasn’t really expecting to get the bag back, and had prepared himself for the worst. “Praise the gods!” he thought. “Now I can enjoy the rest of my trip!”

Some 10 days later, after arriving back in Japan, Yoshio set to work contacting the insurance company. He had to call and request the relevant forms, and complete them (“in painstaking detail!“); make an itemized list of what he purchased, and where, and attach all the receipts; take a copy of his passport, and include it; and finally, attach two more documents – one from the airline proving the bag was lost, and one from the delivery company showing it had been delivered to him. “All this just for an insurance claim for lost luggage!” he says.

A few days later, the claim was approved and Yoshio got a nice little bank transfer to the tune of a couple of hundred dollars. But for the amount of time and effort it took, he says, it was probably more hassle than it was worth.

Have you ever had a bad experience with lost or damaged baggage? Let us know in the comments section!

▼ Somehow, our reporter’s beloved yellow suitcase ended up 3,500 miles away in Ecuador!


▼ It may have arrived a little battered, but still he was glad to have his bag back.


Original article by Yoshio
Featured image: Google/RocketNews24
Other photos: RocketNews24 unless otherwise stated