formerly "The View From Up Here"

Formerly titled "The View From Up Here" this column began in the Liberty Gazette June 26, 2007.

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April 29, 2014 Lost Luggage

The Liberty Gazette
April 29, 2014
Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely

Linda: When my sister’s luggage was lost by the airline she hired to transport herself and her belongings from Bellingham, Washington to Houston, Texas so she could take part in our wedding ceremony, we all began to have visions of her wearing her comfy travel clothes as she stood as my Maid of Honor. Fortunately, at the last possible moment the airline delivered her suitcase, complete with wedding party attire and all other necessities present.

Not everyone is quite so lucky though, and thanks to writer Lorna Terrapinn and, we can peer in to the seeming Never-Never-Land of airline-lost-and-found for some interesting outcomes. The website says it connects airports and airlines with searching personal property owners helping to recover their belongings. Feel free to browse their list of open claims, as Lorna did.

According to Lorna’s compilation which she posted on her blog, BlueSky, 25.8 million bags were mishandled in 2011. The vast majority (86%) were delayed, such as we experienced with my sister’s luggage, but more than 2.8 million were either damaged or pilfered. The rest, not returned; either stolen, or lost for good.

One claim was made by a name you might recognize – a guy named Alice Cooper who has very strange behavior. Apparently some of his props for a Halloween concert came up missing. I wonder what one would do with a skull, skeletons, fake blood, and a giant syringe – keep them in the closet? Perhaps even more interesting is Lorna’s list of a few things found at airports around the world: 50 vacuum-packed frogs, a full suit of armor, and Hoggie, the dwarf from the movie, Labyrinth.

Mike: This reminds me of the disaster that was the Denver International Airport’s overly complex baggage handling system designed when the airport was being built. The mess cost the airport a 16-month delay in opening, and an estimated $560 million. Featured in “Why Projects Fail”, a resource for advanced project management, not only was the plan a grotesque 17 miles long, but the system was eating baggage like a hungry stray on garbage day. It obliterated snow skis and other odd-shaped baggage. Ironically, in testing the system the engineers used baggage from the Lost and Found.

For the ten years the bungling behemoth was beating up baggage, it was used only by United Airlines, and only for outbound flights. But they finally had their fill of damage in Denver and returned to manual labor and carts.

Luggage can still get lost today, so you might want to carry a change of clothes and any necessary personal items in a carry-on.

Good advice from the airlines is to use a unique bag tag to reduce the chances of someone mistaking your bag for theirs, and be sure your contact information is written clearly on it.

If you have to change planes for a trip it’s best to schedule the connecting flight at least an hour after the scheduled arrival of the first flight. That will give baggage handlers time to get your luggage on the plane you’re boarding – a situation responsible for more than half of all luggage being delayed. On international flights put your valuables in carry-on bags.

Better yet: Learn to fly! Then you can leave directly from the Liberty Municipal Airport, almost out your back door, and have your luggage safe at all times.

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