Wednesday, January 03, 2007

A great way to start the new year...

I am now in Bombay taking a short vacation and visiting my parents. I timed my arrival on the 31st Morning so that I might bring in New Year's in Bombay..but alas after my trip...there wasn't much I wanted to do except crawl into bed and get some rest. The excitement began after landing at Bombay Airport, my flight began in EWR (Newark,NJ) and I changed planes at LHR (London Heathrow) and then finally landed at Bombay. I flew British Airways, the flight was fine and uneventful (just the way I like it), Immigration was a breeze, 3 minutes to be precise, and the bags were on the belt even before I made it to baggage claim. And I waited for my bags to show up...and waited and waited and waited... after about 45 mins, one of the baggage handlers mutters in Marathi "sagda bags ala.." What? that can't be, I don't have my bags yet. He again reiterated that's it! No more bags. Then it dawned me, I had on my hands the first personal experience of missing bags. I felt that sinking feeling of trying to imagine the horror ahead. I was then directed to the British Airways Personnel, There four of them behind a desk and about 45 passengers demanding answers. It was a perfect recreation of a pack of hyenas closing in on their prey. It took me the better part of the next two hours to file a claim and get a customs duty exemption and trying to get reassurances from the staff on when I will get my bags. There were a couple of foreign passengers among us who had also lost bags, who were also filling up the claims and giving in the paperwork. Which is when an incredulous transaction occurred, the agents behind the counter were handing them blue envelopes with explanations on how they can draw money out of any ATM in India. Yes, they were being cash to cover immediate expenses to purchase essentials with no questions asked. When my turn came up to hand in my paperwork, I naturally was expecting the same, but no I was politely declined since I am INDIAN passport holder. Let me say that there is no worse feeling then being told by a person (an Indian himself) that sorry I can't help you since you're an Indian passport holder. Wait, don't I need the same essentials, don't I deserve the same treatment. It's assumed that since you're an Indian passport holder you are a resident of India and hence will have access to said essentials at home. This explanation is pure hogwash, there will be expense incurred by a passenger irrespective of his residence on purchasing essentials and hence they are entitled to compensation. I had to explain how I don't live here anymore and hence had to purchase items. I had to show him pages with immigration stamps, which proved that I was not a resident of India. The mere fact that I had to haggle for this basic courtesy extended by the airline to other passengers cheesed me off. It would be another matter if the airline declined this immediate compensation to all passengers. My Bags went missing on 31st Dec 2006. Today is 3rd Jan 2007, and I have not had a single straight answer from British Airways staff in India. Firstly, it is difficult to get in touch with them, Secondly when one does get across, one is given no confirmation on when the bags will be available. Most not all of the agents are downright sarcastic and uncooperative. It is almost like they are doing me a favour by answering my call. British Airways has one office in the city, which is basically a glorified ticket agency and offers no help. Only on insisting that I be helped and whether they could put me in touch with staff at the airport, I was offered some information. No one at British Airways India wants to discuss baggage claims and compensation. Even though they are bound by the Montreal Convention. British Airways' US site has an advisory on delayed baggage for customers in North America

Delayed Baggage North America Question Delayed Baggage - North America arriving passenger Answer If you have arrived into the United States or Canada and your checked baggage is delayed, you can simply check the status of your delayed bag online with your baggage claim number and last name by using the following link: baggage tracer. If you have questions regarding the new hand baggage policy please click here. If you need to update the telephone number where you can be reached or delivery address where the delayed bag is to be sent, then please contact British Airways to update your information. Baggage contact telephone numbers

The only information one gets from British Airways India is there is a belt problem and they are working on the problem. Earlier today the phone lines went dead and there was recorded announcement informing they can't take calls for official reasons,and all passengers with mishandled baggage will be contacted!

The image on the left is snapshot of unclaimed baggage at Heathrow. BBC News reports that more than 10,000 bags are missing. Let's hope my bags show up before I leave back for the US. In the meanwhile I am going to go shop for clothes, shoes, essentials with the 35 pounds I was given so grudgingly by BA! Oh yeah Happy New Year...


UPDATE (5 Jan 2007): One bag delivered after 4 days. The other bag is still chilling in London.This bag has stuff for others and not much of my stuff, so the agony continues!

6 comments:

Ranger 5:24 PM  

What a nightmare!

Why is customer service so *bad* in India? That is b.s. that they should treat passengers with different passports differently. They are all *customers*

M.R. 9:48 PM  

God save the King & the Queen but, also, kill BA! I will never check in my luggage on a BA flight, eve if I fly on it!
My experience at Paris, several years ago, was no different. I was sent to the city office at the other end of the city. I had to fight with their staff before they grudgingly gave me money for spending. Mercifully they delivered the baggage at my hotel room the same night. So what if it was the ungodly hour of 2.30 in the morning!?

Babu 6:59 AM  

Man, I'm not flying BA anytime soon. Otherwise I hope you are having a good time. Tell your folks and everyone I said hi.

InfoMiner 9:36 PM  

Hey Babu,
Unfortunately I will be flying back with them! Otherwise I am having a good time. I am guessing you're back on St. Marteen by now. Good Luck with the new semester.

Lisa 9:00 PM  

LOL... I just read about your wonderful experiences! I now know why your trip was so much fun!! I'm green with envy!!! :P

earlywater 1:07 PM  

That's horrible. Sympathies.

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I am an Informatics Specialist, involved in analysis and visualization of biological and clinical data. Photography is what I do in my spare time. I live in Cambridge, MA.

This blog is the medium to showcase one photo per post from what I shoot. I will try to do post one a day!


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