Stories of Lost Luggage

Okay – let’s hear them! The stories of lost luggage and distraught travelers.

After years of traveling with a clean record of luggage arrival, the spell ended when my boyfriend (now husband) and I went to Pakistan by way of Cairo to get engaged.

We had planned the trip for weeks. While I didn’t know we were getting engaged, I knew for sure we were serious and my parents had to meet him. Who was this “Cliff” that they heard about through long letters punctuated with a thousand exclamation marks?

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So we planned. And we purchased. And we packed.

We headed out about ten days before Christmas leaving bitter Chicago weather and traveling to Pakistan with a 3 day stop in Cairo planned. Our suitcases were full of Christmas presents. We had the Little House on the Prairie series of books for our Cairo friends; packets, jars, and bags of food that they could not get in either Pakistan or  Cairo – we even carried a fake Christmas tree in a duffel bag.

We arrived in Cairo and our luggage did not. It was a sad day.

For 3 days we talked about what they ‘would have’ received and how exciting it ‘would have’ been. The worst thing for me personally was that I had no clothes. I was a woman who was in love, soon to be engaged, and insecure in a place I didn’t know. If I had lost my baggage in Karachi – no problem! I knew how to shop, I was in control – I knew the ways. But this was Cairo – my first visit to Cairo. I borrowed clothes from a woman with a completely different figure type and to this day the pictures taken on that trip were the most uncomplimentary pictures that I’ve ever had taken in my life. I look as awkward as I remember feeling.

No matter, for we arrived in Pakistan 3 days later and I was home! Greeted by my parents, introducing Cliff to both parents and Pakistan for the first time, collecting money from PIA (Pakistan International Airline) so I could shop in my favorite bazaars in Karachi – pure magic.

One week later we received word that the luggage had indeed arrived in the Karachi airport, all but one piece. My boyfriend  (turned fiancee one day after arrival who is now my husband) and my brother took a train ride to Karachi to pick up the luggage in time for Christmas – and that’s a blog post in itself, but not mine to tell. All except one piece. Six months later a duffel bag arrived on our door step – in it was a fake Christmas tree that had traveled the world and arrived at our Chicago apartment in the summer. M & M’s and other candy that had broken out of its packages was strewn through out the branches, giving it a particularly decorative look. The humor of the whole thing still has us telling the story.

So what’s your story of lost luggage?

Since I had so few takers on the giveaway announced on Saturday – here’s your chance to take part. Add your story to the comments and you will be put into the pool to receive a book! Take a look here for what that book might be~

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29 thoughts on “Stories of Lost Luggage

  1. There is nothing worse than finding out after a long day of travel that your bags didn’t make it. Last year in Rome I found out that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure certainly applies when it comes to getting your misplaced luggage returned. Okoban tracker tags are equal to way more than a pound of cure in my book. They allow the airline or anyone else who finds your bags to immediately contact you by email or text (without revealing your personal information) with a pickup location. I got mine at Mystufflostandfound.com It worked like a charm for me and I ended up getting my lost bag back in less than 2 hours.

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    1. I look forward to taking a look at the link! When you think about it, it’s pretty amazing that it doesn’t happen more often. Especially as connections seem to get shorter and shorter between flights. How on earth do they organize this so that pieces actually get where they’re supposed to go?

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  2. We had been in Pakistan 24 years when we decided to ship some collectibles back to the states. Packed carefully into large metal drums, we left them with an agent at the port in Karachi. We waited for months for our cargo to arrive in America. Stacks of correspondence revealed to us that it had been “lost.” Hu’s library, my collection of cook books, and various other prized possessions were gone. The shipment was scheduled to leave on a ship carrying the Iranian flag. At that time America and Iran were at odds and the shipment was caught in that milieu. The shipment never arrived. We believe it never left the port. After remaining in the states for about six years we returned to Karachi for 10 more years. One day we were shopping in a section of the bazaar that sold used items. I discovered a tea set, just like the first silver tea set we had purchased in Pakistan years ago. Picking up the tea pot, I held it in my hands and an unbelievable confirmation flowed through me, the confirmation that this was the tea set “lost at sea.” I loved it and it had served up literally hundreds of cups of tea. I bought it! Yes, I bought it back. Of course there were other tea sets in the same design, probably hundreds of them. But this one was mine. The worn wooden handle fit my hand perfectly. Well, I used it for many more years and upon retirement we shipped it with our sea freight to America. Shinning and with a few dents, it now has a prominent place in our daughter’s home, holding secrets yet to be revealed.

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    1. Best story ever!! I can’t believe you bought back the tea set – did you tell the shop keeper the story? This is a great story! When I visit Georgia – I want to see this tea set!

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  3. I have a non-story. This reminds me of how amazed I am that the honor system still works at airports. I was just at an airport last week and watched a handful of unclaimed bags cycle around on the baggage carousel. Easy pickings, but nobody touched them, and they generally don’t, as far as I can tell. My sister’s boss had his laptop stolen from the overhead compartment, but people don’t take those unguarded bags. It restores my faith in people’s empathy.

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  4. I have a story of lost luggage from a flight to Almaty from Moscow. Stan and Tami played the part of angels who found us at the airport when our contact didn’t show up. They took us home with them and shared their hospitality and clothes with us and our kids until our luggage arrived a few days later!

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    1. Great story Julie! It is a horrible feeling – puts us in very vulnerable, needy positions – which is probably good for us but hard at the same time.

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  5. A co-worker on Home Assignment in the States flew back to Japan for a week of meetings with two borrowed suitcases, one filled with what he needed for the week and one filled with items his wife sent back with him to await the family’s eventual return.

    He grabbed the two suitcases from the luggage carousel, used his, and emptied the contents from the other one into a closet to await their family’s return. One week later, he returned to the airport to head back to the U.S. with his two borrowed suitcases (one now empty), and when he checked in, the agent at the counter said, “We have your red suitcase that you never picked up from baggage claim last week.”

    The red suitcase which he had taken from the carousel (and the contents of which he had emptied in a closet) belonged to another traveler, who had filed for lost baggage and had provided the airline with a detailed list of contents.

    The airline kept his empty red suitcase as collateral, he ran to catch his flight, and the airline faxed our office the other passenger’s detailed list of contents. Another teammate and I retrieved the items and returned them to the airline, which delivered them to the other passenger, and upon her approval, the airline returned the red suitcase to us, repeating many times: “We’ve never had this happen before!” Whew! The red suitcase story will always be famous in our team’s lore!

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    1. Great story! Can’t believe they used it as collateral! That has to be a first….or maybe not. To be on the other end of taking the wrong luggage is so funny (for us…not for them :) I remember one of our students in Cairo taking a suitcase that actually belonged to a Libyan businessman. He was irate when he realized and they sheepishly returned the bag to it’s correct owner!

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  6. Our best lost luggage story was on our honeymoon. We were in Houston, Texas where our wedding and reception took place, way back in 1986. The morning after, the hotel arranged for transportation to a shuttle stop for a bus to the international airport. My mom and sisters drove their own car there to wave us off, bringing along my new robe which had somehow missed getting in the suitcases. The hotel bellhop collected our luggage and put it in the hotel van. When we arrived at the shuttle bus depot, he offloaded it for us. We got on the bus and headed for the airport, waving goodbye enthusiastically at my mom and sisters. If this were a movie, the camera would have panned back to our bags, still in the bus depot. When we arrived at the airport, we were informed by the bus company that they had found the bags and would send them on the next shuttle. We checked into our flight and explained the situation. The airline assured us that they would put the bags, when they arrived, on the next flight to Barbados. So we were concerned (and ultimately it was our fault for not checking that our bags were on the shuttle) but we boarded our flight with the clothes on our backs and a bathrobe. Later that afternoon, my father- and mother-in-law arrived at the same airport for their flight home to the Bahamas. Unfortunately, on the same airlines. The check in agent told them that she had their bags. My father-in-law hadn’t heard about what had happened but he figured out quite quickly and told the agent that those WERE NOT their bags, they belonged to his son, and that they should go to Barbados, not the Bahamas. The agent appeared to agree and they checked their own bags in without further discussion. After they boarded the plane, another of the ground staff came on board and tried to give him the baggage stubs though. He explained again. This is a very long story to say that our bags did indeed go to the Bahamas and I made do with my traveling suit and bathrobe and a t-shirt I bought at the hotel for four days before we were reunited with those bags, which apparently had a free trip to Freeport. If this had been a movie, the middle shot would have been the bags, lonely and alone, circling and circling the rounder at that airport. The funny part of all of this was that the luggage was a wedding gift from my in-laws. They had given us the money to buy a nice matching set. The luggage went home with them but, since they hadn’t bought it personally, they didn’t even recognize it.

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    1. Love this story! It would make a great movie, not least because it was on a honeymoon! It’s pretty amazing that they ever made it. Barbados, Bahamas – too bad they both began with B.

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  7. This is a great topic Marilyn, because you’ve hit upon a subject that almost every traveler can comment on. I haven’t kept count of how many times I’ve lost my luggage, but it’s been a few. Also, it’s been enough that I know that to the airlines your luggage is never lost, but “misplaced, misrouted or delayed.” The most memorable “misplacement” happened when I was traveling on business to spend a rocky month on a geophysical seismic boat in the North Sea. On the way, I stopped in London and one of my bags didn’t show up (I had one bag of office clothes, and one of work clothes.) I had to make a rush departure to the Netherlands to catch the boat, and left before the bag showed up. I was on the boat for one month, and when I flew back to London on my way back to the US, my bag was waiting for me at the hotel. I was surprised to find it, and had just assumed that it would never be found. And I really couldn’t complain since I had free baggage storage for a month. ~James

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    1. Funny to have it show up at your hotel – how on earth did the airline know? Or did the company help track it? I would love to spend a day in the life of luggage and see what really goes on in the back end of the airport. Although it may completely destroy my faith that anybody or anyone get anywhere. With as much as you’ve traveled the odds are you amazed it hasn’t happened more often?

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  8. I lost a whole carton when we came back to Canada. It apparently got left in Karachi, some lucky sucker got a very large set of dishes of every shape, size and use. I miss them.

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  9. We never lost a piece of luggage on international flights – not once! But one year in the hot late spring we packed our landrover in Larkana to drive to Murree, I to spend the summer, Ralph to spend a little time getting us settled, the kids out of boarding and HOME for the summer, at least with me in one of the many places we lived in Murree. He would then return to Sindh to the heat and his work. But on the way we planned to stop in Gujranwala. John Stott was coming to Pakistan to speak at a conference and we planned to attend. The last thing that went into the back of the LR was my suitcase for the trip. Buried somewhere inside was my other suitcase with my old clothes. But in the one, I had my “best” and newest shalwar-qameez suits. A Pakistani friend had helped me shop for cloth, then she took me to her tailor. For the first time in Pakistan I had clothes that fit me, were in the latest style, and were comfortable. We were hardly an hour on the canal road towards Sukkur when we noticed a lot of dust in the car. The back door had flown open, and guess what! My suitcase was gone! We drove back, looking along the road. nothing. We saw some workers and asked them if they had seen a suitcase. No, of course they hadn’t. We never found it, we were delayed on our first day’s drive, and I had lost my clothes, our address book, my Bible, my jewelry. Kind friends along the way gave me clothes. I thanked them of course, but they weren’t mine, or my style of fit.
    Strange as I pondered over this loss. I never considered myself a materialist – until that summer when I lost that suitcase! I think the Lord taught me a good lesson. Ever since it has been easier to give things away, and I have held my possessions much more loosely. I think of refugees with nothing except what they can carry.

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    1. I still remember this sad story. I remember at one time thinking “Ahhh – and I would have inherited that jewelry (it must have been at a very egocentric stage of life”
      I know what you mean about being challenged on being materialistic. There are a couple of things I”ve lost through the years and I still think about them – it’s so foolish, I don’t need them, my life has been fine without them…yet still I think about them. What’s that about?

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  10. When I moved to South Africa, only one of my bags arrived in the country with me, and it didn’t end up making it to my final destination. My second bag ended up in Ireland because someone misread the airport code! Almost four years later I moved to Ireland. My second bag was just a bit too early. ;)

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      1. It took a couple of days for the airline to figure out where it was. Then it had to be sent back to the States and then on to South Africa. Thankfully I got it a week after I arrived.

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      2. When I think of what it feels like when we first arrive in a place it had to be traumatic. There’s that feeling of lostness, jetlag, everything sort of a blur….and lost luggage to top it off – but these are the stories that make us live I think. When life becomes more efficient it feels as if stories vanish in the sterility of efficiency…..

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