This is the story of my pajamas and how I met so many American Airline's employees.
It starts out innocent enough with plans to escape Oklahoma winter weather with a cruise to the Caribbean. Great plan. As it turns out for mid-westerners traveling east, our flight was at dark-thirty in the morning so we could have some wiggle room in case of incidents.
We decided as a group to go to the airport the evening before as a precaution in case of bad weather. I packed my pjs in my carry-on and looked forward to a relaxing vacation.
Day 1 which is really Day 2. Jammie's re-packed and we head to the airport to check in at dark-thirty am.
If you've flown recently then you know flying is only a couple of steps away from total do-it-yourself. We met lots of employees who had been hired to help us use the self service check in kiosks. Seems like we used to do it faster with fewer agents when they did the work, but maybe I'm wrong.
We paid extra for the privilege of traveling with luggage, answered our own security questions and selected our own seats.
We checked our own IDs and made sure we were really us. We pulled the bag tags out of the machines and stuck them on the handles of our suitcases. I had not been trained to find that little barcode sticker and stick it on the back of my ticket jacket that they no longer provide.
As we wait at the gate for our flight, announcements are made that the flight is full and there would be no overhead space for carry-ons.
This is an interesting psychic call on these employees part to know everyone has bin-filling carry-ons and are not minimalists, but maybe I'm wrong.
Our gang was the last group to board, the gate agents making a plea to check our bags (at no extra cost!) since there wasn't room for it in the plane.
Employees gave looks to those with more than a wallet to check those carry-ons. At the last minute we caved, and handed over the little bags that seemed to be deal breakers on this trip. Employee Kathy checked my pajamas to sunny Florida.
We found our own seats on the plane and made the short flight to Dallas/Ft Worth.
We have arrived with plenty of time to connect with our 9:05 am flight to Miami, Florida. We make camp at the assigned gate and wait. Bad sign number one was when the first delay was posted. Bad signs continued as delays kept coming and we watched mechanics on ladders huddle with hands on hips.
I met American Airlines employee, Rahad, when we visited numerous times as the delays were posted in 30-minute increments. We had no need to worry until after 2:30 p.m., when our arrival into Florida would make us too late for our 6 p.m., cruise ship sailing.
My partner in this travel adventure, Carolyn Williams at Grand Escapes, was working her end like a demon to notify the ship of our delay. Eight delays and a gate change later, I ask Rahad, to get us on another flight and help get our bags off that broken plane, we can't wait for the repair.
Tim, the supervisor, concurs and we wish we'd had those little stickers that we were suppose to stick on our ticket jackets that are no longer provided, because we don't know the numbers on the bags. Rahad creates the list of checked bags and runs off with a printout.
Carolyn at headquarters has had phones on both ears and is onto Plan G with how to connect with our ship. It doesn't seem to involve Florida.
Wait a minute (although each one is precious now), where are those carry-on bags with my pjs? I return to ask Rahad, only to discover that a shift change has occurred and I meet Ms. Surly (name has been changed).
Ms. Surly has no idea about the carry-ons and neither does the call to the baggage person. It appears there has been a shift change and no one knows. And there doesn't seem to be any supervisor named Tim.
Ms. Surly feels this is a good time to lecture me on her 29 years of employment experience on what a bad idea it was to let them pull our bags. This motivational although not encouraging rant was not finding my Jammie's. Darn that shift change.
Carolyn, whom I'll now call Hotline for her long distance phone skills, had found us a hotel to spend the night and work on Plan L, and let those 30 minute delays keep posting.
The Much Older Sister got the gang on the green shuttle driven by Ashton that Michelle had sent that Hotline (Carolyn Williams) had secured.
I will be along as soon as I find the 10 checked bags and the three checked carry-ons. I head to A-28 baggage claim to start. Mr. Grey Mustache informs me those bags "if they did get pulled" off the broken plane, might be at terminal C, gate 4.
Luckily for me, a helpful employee was nearby to inform me this was too far to walk; I needed to catch the orange shuttle to C.
I met Helen at C4. She looked at me like I was wearing my pajamas. Many clicks on her keyboard later, she sends me to C-21 because she can't do anything to help me.
Darrel at C-21 can't see that anyone anywhere ever requested bags to be removed from the plane. He asks if there is anything special looking about the bags, I literally draw a picture of the Good to Go tags and ribbons. He suggests I visit with his supervisor, Carlos.
I stress to AA employee Carlos, that the carry/checked bags have medications in them. He starts to give me the encore lecture of Ms. Surly so I interrupt and say "I Know, I’ve Heard It."
I emphasize that AA employees highly encouraged us to check them at the last minute and it wasn't possible to open our bags and grab out everything we wanted to carry-on, then we would need something to carry-on in.
He said they should have told us not to check medications. I said, "Well, there's that." I chose not to bring up my sleepwear. Carlos says IF the bags come off, they will be at A-16.
I know how the orange shuttle works now so I jump onboard and get back to where I started. A-16 Francis sends me to A-20 where I round a corner to see 10 suitcases lined up with Good to Go luggage tags and blue ribbons streaming. I had a tear in my eye.
Wait, where are my pjs? I'm missing the three carry-on/checked bags. I introduce myself to Derik whose smile fades when I claim we are three short. He clicks around on the keyboard and says that delayed flight is still delayed, and the bags are onboard. It could take 30 minutes or four hours to look for them. I was thinking, somebody better get started.
Meanwhile, Hotline has booked us on flights at dark-thirty in the morning, to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Which wasn't on our itinerary.
We will spend two nights on Tortola then meet our cruise ship. Good news Plan R is in place! Good news, if there is any fear of rough water, we are flying over it! Good news, we miss the lifeboat drill! Bad news, we miss the first two days of the cruise. Bad news, we miss the lifeboat drill.
Derik and I have some time to get acquainted while I'm waiting on the three strays to show up. Sister calls to confirm everyone is settled in the airport hotel, just waiting on their suitcases. Probably wanting their pajamas.
I decide to call the green shuttle to take the 10 to their owners. I ask my new best friend Derik if I can borrow the porters luggage cart to tote the bags. He asked who was going to help me. Obviously, he has never seen me haul hay!
So he clicks a few more times and I stack bags, no news of the MIAs and out I go with 10. I give Derik my phone number; tell him my room number at the Marriott and tuck a five dollar bill in his palm...just in case he sees my pajamas.
Either he didn’t... or it needed to be a bigger bill.
At 9 p.m., I call the AA baggage line and talk to Mr. India in Florida. I go through the plight of my pjs, and he confirms my fear, the three bags are enroute to Florida. Mr. India is closer to my nightie than I am.
I try not to shoot the messenger and ask if the bags can be returned to Texas before our departure at dark-thirty. He says "No," because the bags aren't missing yet. Somebody better tell me that. I have 25 delay notices on my phone.
We check in with American Airlines employee Shelby for our flight to San Juan. After hearing the narrative that is becoming Day 2 which is really Day 3, she clicks some keys and we don't have to pay luggage fees again.
Our flight to Puerto Rico is smooth and our flight to Tortola is on time. I am reprimanded for taking a picture of the airport sign by Mr. Tall Employee, but I feel like I need to document where I am, because I'm losing track.
Yay! All bags arrived! Of course the three bags are still a no show, so I go into the empty terminal in order to fill out paperwork for the missing bags. I spent 25 minutes waiting on a baggage person to file a claim before I gave up and called American Airlines and spent another 25 minutes telling and retelling the story as I was transferred from agent to agent.
If only the bags moved as easily as the passing of responsibility. Kareem was the one that was happy to tell me the bags were in Miami. (yeah, I know) but the real task was convincing him there was no need to send bags to San Juan since we weren't there. Aghhhh!
Finally got it communicated and hopefully bags will come from Miami to Tortola and we expect them tomorrow. We will join the ship the day after. But I do think my pjs deserve a passport.
Patti Beth Anderson has more than 20 years of experience in the group travel industry taking people all over the world. Her motto is "I return with the same number of people I left with… not necessarily the same people, but the same number nevertheless. So no 'crankpots' allowed" She may be reached at 918-786-3318 or firstname.lastname@example.org.