I’ll preface this by saying that myself and Josh had the world’s best honeymoon. The kind of amazing where you lie in bed at night (floating in the Mediterranean), eat the Belgian chocolate that is waiting for you on your crisp, white pillow and wonder “Is this real life? I wouldn’t change a thing about this moment.” Okay if I’m honest, I would add a couple more Belgian chocolates to our pillows, but other than that, status quo for sure.
I’m happy to report we had the trip of a lifetime. I was determined to not let a little ol’ thing like all my belongings being missing get me down. And I didn’t! Each day, I woke up, pulled on my crusty jean shorts and explored Italy with my wonderful husband.
But at the back of my mind… something was slightly bothering me.
Finally, as I got disconnected from British Airways baggage line without speaking to an actual human being for the third time in a row, it hit me.
British Airways was pranking me.
It was the only logical explanation. The customer service I was receiving was like something from an SNL skit. I was convinced that at any moment balloons would fall down from the ceiling and I would be presented with a ticket to fly around the world. The whole situation had to be a Truman Show style experiment where they give the absolute worst customer service possible to see how the customer will cope. Surely, British Airways was about to walk out from behind a wall and say “OMG of course we don’t actually treat our customers like this! We are filming a comical marketing video with a storyboard that involves treating you the complete opposite way we should. We’ve hid cameras everywhere and people around the world have been watching you on a live-stream. Some people were even betting on when you would reach your breaking point.”
Well folks, it’s two weeks later, and I’ve officially reached my breaking point. Honestly, once I got my bags back, I didn’t give it much more thought. I had no plans to write a strongly-worded blog or even bother submitting a complaint about my experience. But this morning I received an email from British Airways informing me they would pay for my clothing expenses but would not be covering the new suitcase I purchased (after they destroyed mine) because I didn’t submit the claim within 7 days of receiving it!
I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to submit a claim while I was cruising the Mediterranean sans internet access or telephone. Also I’m on vacation and I really need a breather from you British Airways, since you’ve already been third-wheeling on this vacation for six days.
Yup my luggage was missing FOR SIX DAYS – 32% of my vacation. I stepped on a flight on Friday evening, Sept 4 and didn’t see my luggage again until Thursday evening September 10.
This isn’t about the 70 euro I spent on a pretty kick-ass turquoise suitcase. That money is spent and forgotten about. The reason why this irks me so much is because the customer service throughout this entire ordeal has been virtually non-existent.
I consider myself to be a positive and fairly nice person. When I speak to a customer service representative, I understand that I am not speaking to the ‘corporation’. They are human beings just doing their job. So for 5 days I called the 1-800 lines and tried not to explode. Each day I was polite, understanding and apparently – a complete sucker.
Do nice guys finish last? I’ve gone through life with the belief that kindness and patience is the way to go. Being rude gets you nowhere. Apparently, the exception to that rule is British Airways.
Day 4 sans luggage and I had zero updates. Like zilch. Nothing. No one had called me (but I kept calling them) and no one had apologized or tried to explain what they were doing to look for my bag. After I asked what they were doing to find my bag, they told me they would contact each airport but I couldn’t grasp why calling 3 airports needed to take 4 days. No one was helpful, understanding or even remotely apologetic. Finally, I sent out a frustrated cry of desperation on Twitter.
The twitter folks were quite nice. They told me they were going to look into it and investigate immediately. A guy named Neil was awesome and I credit him with finding my bag in the end.
But what if I was computer-illiterate? I shouldn’t have had to taken it to that level! It was a representative on twitter who told me they could ‘categorically confirm’ my luggage was on the flight to Rome. I had that information from Twitter while the 1-800 line was still telling me they knew nothing.
As someone who works in marketing, it is really disappointing to see an organization only respond when the complaint goes public.
So what have I learned from this experience? Well, from now on, I’ll be packing half my clothes in Josh’s suitcase to avoid being underwear-less in a foreign country. And being assertive doesn’t mean being rude. Sometimes you gotta keep pushing to get what you deserve.
For those who are interested, here are the highlights (or low-lights) of the customer service I received once I lost my bag:
- I reported my bag missing at the airport (after waiting an hour in line) and they opened a file for me and wrote down a number I could try calling the next day. This number was occasionally answered but often was turned off or out of range. The person who answered this line worked at the baggage desk in Rome airport. I would ask if my bag was there – she would ask for my file number, go check, and then say “I don’t see it”
- I called the British Airways general baggage line and they gave me a number dedicated solely to lost baggage in Italy. I called said number and listened to terrible waiting room music that repeated itself every ten seconds. An automated voice tells me my call is important and someone will be with me shortly. This happens over and over. Ten minutes pass. Automated voice comes on and says “All our representatives are currently busy. Please try later” CLICK. The line disconnects! This happened not once, not twice, but at least four times. I’m talking borderline torture. I cannot articulate the rage this made me feel inside. Also I’m really afraid to look at Josh’s cell phone bill
- On day 5 I called the general line (because the Italy line never answers) and told them a British Airways rep on twitter has confirmed my bag went to Rome. Representative tells me “Yes, your bag is in Rome airport”. I say “But is it found or are you just telling me it is in the airport?” He ignores this question and says it is in Rome airport and to call the Italy British Airways line to arrange pick-up. I call the Italy line and by some miracle someone answers. I explain what I was just told and she replies “We have to wait for the airport to contact us” I ask her if she can call the airport. She says “we don’t have a number for the airport”. WHAT. Can you email them I ask? She says “We don’t have any contact information for the airport. We are just a call-centre and they need to contact us.”
- The fact that the British Airways baggage line for Italy doesn’t have a phone number for Rome airport is actually ludicrous and hilarious and WHAT.
- At this point, I’m convinced I’m never getting my bag. Why? Because I have a phone number for the Rome airport baggage department (See bullet #1) and they actually couldn’t care less. The last time I called, the lady on the phone said there was no update on my file. I described my bag and asked her to look around. She said (without looking) “I don’t see it. Are you in Rome?” I told her I was in Venice and I’d be back in Rome on Thursday. She suggested I come back to the airport then and look in lost and found myself.
- WHAT IS LIFE
- Finally, on the return flight home, when we went to check our luggage, they informed us one of our bags was overweight by a couple of pounds. I explained that British Airways lost my luggage for six days so I had to buy some additional items. The British Airways rep gave me an unapologetic shrug and said we could rearrange our luggage and come back the counter. So to top it all off, we sat in Rome airport with a open suitcase stuffing things into our carry-on. Perfect.
Despite the fact that it took them 6 days to locate a bag that was in the Rome airport the whole time, all my anger evaporated once I got my bag back. Until today.
Why did I write this blog? Honestly I’m just super annoyed and writing it down made me feel better. I don’t expect or even want anything from British Airways at this point. But I think they need to reevaluate their policies. And maybe talk to some of their customer service reps about showing a bit of empathy.
Ironically, I headed to the airport hoping we might get upgraded to first class because it was our honeymoon. How naive I was!