Kafka Flies to Europe – Loses Luggage – Tale of Incompetence

I had booked 2 river cruises with AMAWaterways with several extra days in Amsterdam and Nuremberg.  I was ready for an active yet relaxing 3 weeks. I allowed an extra day before the first cruise. The following is based on actual events. 

Surreal steampunk dirigible during a fierce thunder and lightning storm – original CGI illustration

6/17  My luggage never arrived  Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam after a multi-flight trip.

 I had sufficient time at each airport for my luggage to be transferred. But, after 30’ at baggage claim, the carousel display said all luggage from my flight, Lufthansa 2306, had been delivered. I still didn’t see my luggage.  Opening arguments in my Trial. I went to Avia, the Lufthansa customer service, but they said go back to the carousel, despite the notice. Some luggage, they said didn’t arrive for an hour or more.

Eventually I returned to Avia where there was a long line. There were only 2 agents. Each traveler’s report was taking 30-40’. After a total of 3 hours, my claim was filed. My temporal lobe would soon be branded with the reference number AMSLH39111.

Flight DetailsAC 8807 / 16 JUN    LH 477 / 16 JUN    LH 2306 / 17 JUN
RoutingSEA  / YVR  / MUC  / AMS

Avia said I should also contact

I became quite familiar with those email addresses, but they spurned my advances, mostly ghosting me.

6/18 –I had decided to stay at an airport hotel,since it’s easy to train to Amsterdam Centraal station from the airport. After breakfast, a shuttle took me back to the airport.  A quick trek thru the airport mall netted 2 shirts, adapters & USB cables, and toiletries and Dutch versions of OTC meds. I usually carry those in my carryon. This time I didn’t. Lady luck was on another flight.  Unfortunately, for the first time I also had my travel CPAP in checked luggage.

When I arrived in Amsterdam

a short walk took me to my AMAWaterways ship, where I could drop my loot and explore Amsterdam.

The AMA cruise manager was extremely helpful. She contacted Lufthansa when I couldn’t get a response.

 AMA had a lost luggage packet with some essentials (including underwear). They also gave me daily laundry service for the week

6/23  Alaska Airlines, carrier for my first segment, said they had my luggage. It had never left Seattle! And it would be waiting for me when I returned to AMS after the first 7-day cruise. Early on, the 3 carriers (including Air Canada) tried to shift any blame to the others. Then they all stopped responding.

6/25 – On our return to Amsterdam

an AMA agent dropped me off at Schiphol (AMS). AMA had previously been told by Avia to pick up my luggage at ‘unaccompanied luggage’. I went there. Oobligatory wait.  They sent me across the terminal to Swissport. Swissport sent me backacross to Avia. (I ended up walking 2 miles without leaving the airport!) Another wait in line. Now told bag was in Chicago and would leave for AMS on the 26th. It would arrive at 9 am on 27 jun.

They promised it would be delivered to my hotel later that day between 2 & 4 as I was in Amsterdam until morning of 6/28. Never arrived. No notification by text or email or my mobile or local hotel phone (all info they had) Message when I called Avia again: “Your phone number does not accept calls.”

6/28 I left for Basel by TGV for the second cruise. 

.  After that Avia didn’t answer any of multiple emails. Their phone number still doesn’t work. 

7/6 Back home.

I had sent another email thru Star Alliance baggage tracing. But that just bounced me to the previous website tracing using reference AMSLH39111.  That site now reported: said “Item located, pending confirmation’ for 3 WEEKS!

7/8 Called Lufthansa help line. They said, for first time, that the 6/26 flight had been cancelled, so luggage was still in Chicago!. They hadn’t done anything afterwards to get it tyo Amsterdam. Now they said they’d ship it back to Seattle. They would update me on the status. As expected by now, no response since then.

7/7 Called to follow up previous claim with Air Canada for ‘Delayed or Damaged Baggage.’ Claim I’d previously filed no longer listed. They said, “not their problem”. But still told me to fill out the form again for delayed luggage?

7/13  Tried to contact Lufthansa by email, and thru twitter.

All web luggage tracing sites I’ve been given just funnel into world tracer with my Reference# AMSLH39111. Today it told me ‘Access to your file is no longer available. Please contact your airline for more information

I called the Lufthansa help line. They assured “Not a problem – they can still read it”. But didn’t give me a way to update the claim

Tried to file another claim with Lufthansa but just bounced to an ‘information’ page. No place I could actually file a claim.  Previous emails to earlier addresses still ignored.

Also submitted claims to my Chase Sapphire credit card and travel insurance for items purchased before the first cruise. Eventual responses much later. Said they needed more info beyond the receipts I had submitted along with flight documentation. But they don’t say what’s missing. A month later, more email just repeating the request.

7/14 Tried to get help from  Lufthansa on Twitter

who just directed me to Feedback and contact form for Lufthansa. But that form won’t let me submit a lost luggage claim. It asks for the same delayed luggage information, but then yells” Error -An unexpected error has occurred. Please try again or contact Claims Service at xxxxxxx’


Called that number. On hold for an hour. Disconnected.

I’ve also been calling Lufthansa customer relations support line, but turns out they really can’t do anything but send an email to ‘Headquarters”. And that HQ would only reply when there was something positive to report.  They say there’s no record of previous calls. So have to describe “the story thus far” each time.

7/15

Did get a boilerplate reply from Lufthansa. It begins:

‘Dear passenger,

Thank you for your request, which we have already handed over to our service team with the reference number (Feedback ID 35956764). We ask for your understanding that responses are currently delayed due to the extraordinarily high volume of incoming inquiries.’

Lufthansa claim form

Then asks for basic flight info. Nothing about delayed/lost luggage or filing a claim

7/23 Only now found out

Lufthansa would not accept a lost luggage claim until 3 months had passed.  Chase Sapphire required a lost luggage claim to be submitted within 21 days of loss. Catch-22. They also required the lost luggage claim reference number from carrier.

7/27 Speed-dial Lufthansa baggage call center. Checking AMSLH39111.  Have the bag but listed as a backpack. (Why should that matter?). There are 2 books in outside pocket which I confirmed. (Hadn’t listed those earlier). Also ignored the luggage tags on the handle! So, they have physically examined my bag? They tell me it may(?) be in Seattle?? They’ll confirm its location. Will me by email whatever the result. Any response still bouncing in the tubes of the internet.

8/3 Worst agent yet. 45’ hold. ‘Cara’ first tells me she knew nothing about my bag. No record of my previous calls. I ask questions. Long silences w/o telling me I’m on hold.  told me bag is “Now at Amsterdam airport”. Eventually says her source was AMSLH39111. (I no longer get any information from that reference) Won’t read it to me. Won’t tell when that was reported in AMS. Says couldn’t send the report to me. I continue to ask why. Cara still REFUSES to explain. Then she hangs up.

No previous report of the bag discovered in Amsterdam. I was still in Netherlands on last confirmed sighting on 6/25. Then baggage was in Chicago. But its onward flight was canceled. (No explanation why it wasn’t re-scheduled)

Likely that Cara was confusing the place luggage was reported with the place last seen. If the bag was in AMS I wouldn’t have needed to file the report in the first place. Information from one call is denied by the next.           

Confusion reigns. Last week they have my bag. They describe some of the contents (which I had not previously mentioned). Say the bag had been mislabeled as a backpack. (Why should that matter?) Today she said there was no record, and they couldn’t place the bag

8/3  Masochist. I send another round of emails

8/8 – Received no reply from ams.mybag@aviapartner.aero  Re-send.  Immediate response. However, not from Avia.

SMTP error from remote server for RCPT TO command, host: aviapartner-aero.mail.protection.outlook.com (104.47.2.36) reason: 550 5.7.1 Service unavailable, Client host [74.208.4.194] blocked using Customer Block list AS(1420) [DB5EUR01FT053.eop-EUR01.prod.protection.outlook.com]

Of course, never had replied to previous emails to them. If  they don’t receive emails, they can list the problem as solved.

 Received boilerplate from ‘customer.relations@lufthansa.com’ 

Lufthansa email server

8/8 No update

Again said they’d contact me ONLY when there was an update. Will BCC me on email sent to ‘HQ’.  (Something previous agents refused, claiming they were not allowed to do so)  I received this copy:

AHL AMSLH39111

SE STEVE/A/CASCOLY/D/COM

AG U764402

.CPT

<<ATTN COLL>>PLS LOCATE BAG AS PAX HAS NEVER RECV UPDT ABT LOCATION OF BAG/PAX HAS BEEN WAITING FOR 2 MONTHS/PLS URGENTLY LOCATE BAG AND UPDATE NEGS STAT OF FILE/ADVD PAX EMAIL NOTF WILL BE SENT AS SOON AS UPDT ON FILE IS DONE/MANY THANKS/CPTBCC/BW08AUG22

Nothing happened

At same time, they’re saying there’s no record of previous calls which gave location of my bag. Also identified some of the contents (not previously reported) since ‘there were no updates to the file’

8/4 Reply from’customer.relations@lufthansa.com’ 

Also, you can use the link https://mybag.aero/baggage/#/lufthansa/en-gb/delayed/manage-bag to follow the current status of the baggage search with that tool

Thank you for your request, which we have already handed over to our service team with the reference number (Feedback ID 36079743).

When I use that link result is “SEARCHING FOR YOUR BAG / please check back later”. Later no better.

And  I have no way to access that feedback #

Part of my email sent: I have repeatedly asked for compensation, both for delayed luggage and $1500 as required by the Warsaw Convention. I have attached my boarding passes, necessary replacement items and proof of purchase, and initial report On a previous they told me it was still in the US and described books in the luggage that I had not mentioned, so someone had physically seen my luggage

8/29  

‘Alex said he’d sent msg to all airports. Promised results by next day. Big Surprise! Nothing happened

9/2 immediate connection today. Doesn’t really matter

‘Angelo’ – Contradicting previous agents, said he can see logs from previous phone calls. But, it seems, only if the agent actually logged the call!  Said he would send another email to ‘HQ’. Also promised to update me in a day or so. Guess what?

Lufthansa website says I couldn’t enter claim for loss until 3 months had passed.  But the website and  email give no answer to questions about how to do that. Nothing more on website

9 /20 Three months have passed

Followup email to mes amis at customer relations asking how to submit lost luggage claim.

Eventually Lufthansa sends me another boilerplate message. They say they’ll get around to it if & when they can spare the time. They’re still so overburdened. And, by the way, don’t call the CALL center since they don’t have any information!

9/24 Another email to ‘customer.relations@lufthansa.com’ asking for update. No reply

9/26  I found a conciliation organization. https://soep-online.de/  The goal of this “Arbitration Board for Public Transport” is the promotion of public transport through out-of-court dispute resolution between transport undertakings and their customers (travellers).’

 I file with them, and they’llconduct further interactions with Lufthansa. Spoiler.  Unknown whether this had any influence on Lufthansa eventually ‘finding’ the luggage they had in hand 3 months earlier.

10/4   email from Chase Sapphire ‘eclaimsline@eclaimsline.com’ re delayed luggage claim from 3 months ago. Asks me to resend everything

10/9 Again to Chase Sapphire

I try to file a new claim for lost luggage. Tediously enter the many items in suitcase line by line. No option to attach a pdf. They require where purchased, date & receipt for each item. (Really?) Only then does form ask me for Lufthansa claim number. But Lufthansa won’t give me a way to enter a claim. No chance to save data before submitting. I click submit. Webpage crashes.  Sent explanatory email aasking if I can send pdf rather than entering everything again and what to do when Lufthansa won’t let me file a claim.

They reply

Thank you for contacting Card Benefit Services.  If you attached documents for your claim, your examiner will review documentation within 5 business days. Upon the completed review of your claim, you will be contacted via email if additional documentation is required or notified of the outcome of your claim.  If your email did not include documents, we will reply to your inquiry within 2 business days.  We appreciate your business and welcome this opportunity to service you.

No mention of the specific questions I’d asked.

 10/10 – I make repeated attempts to follow up.  Lufthansa now says they have no record of any conversations. And they have no idea where my bag is

10/18 Now for something completely different!

Lufthansa email says luggage at SEATAC. Really. It is. We’ve checked twice!

Says use LUFTHANSA GROUP #AMSLH39111 for further information.  Of course that still says record can’t be found.

10/19 Lufthansa email says

Delivery agent: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
Website of delivery agent: www.wheresmysuitcase.com

Ref ac386730 which is the baggage tag that previously they said couldn’t be found

Said would be delivered 10/20 by noon

Instead tried to deliver at 10 pm.  I had my phone charging in another room. Only discovered the text at 4 am. At least their dispatcher was still awake. Arranged delivery later that day. Would be delivered between 12 & 6 – arrived at 6:30 pm. This time just glad I had that prodigal suitcase!

Whew!

Itinerary of my luggage

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