Bagless in Portugal

The last few years, when I fly, I get this nagging feeling while standing at the baggage carousel. I start to wonder what if this is the time one of our bags doesn’t show up. I never say it out loud. Not that I’m the superstitious type, but who wants to be accused of tempting fate. Now that we are traveling full time, statistics dictate that it is no longer a question of “if”, but “when” will something go wrong while we’re traveling. So I wasn’t shocked when I found myself standing bagless in the now empty baggage claim area of the Porto, Portugal airport. None of the three bags we checked in Copenhagen earlier that day made the transfer with us during our layover in Paris. If there is a silver lining to be had, I no longer need to wonder when will I lose my first bag. I feel I can joke about this now since the whole ordeal has come to a positive conclusion, but our first week in Portugal was a little bit frustrating.

Date of Loss (DOL)

After coming to the realization that our bags aren’t going to magically appear on the carousel, I made my way to the lost baggage office to get the process of finding our bags started. The representative who helped me gave me a little good news, Air France has already found two of the three bags and he assures me the third is probably with them as well. They will be sent on the next available flight to Porto and delivered to us as soon as possible. The catch is that the Paris to Porto flight runs only three times a week, so it will be two days until it gets there.

DOL +1

At lost baggage, they left us with a small “parting gift”, two sets of necessities (toothbrush/paste, razor/shaving cream, deodorant, new t-shirt, etc) to tide us over until our bags show up. That would be fine if they were going to be in our possession the next day, but we have at least another day to go. So off to the store we go to pick up replacements.

DOL +2

During the day I get an email notification from Air France that all of our bags have been found and we wait anxiously to hear from the baggage courier that they are on their way. Eventually we get the call, but the person on the other end of the line does not speak any English. Through the help of a friend who speaks Portuguese, we learn that they will not be able to deliver the bags until the next day.

DOL +3

The courier arrives and starts unloading the bags, but there are only two. He can’t answer any of my questions regarding the third bag since all he knows is that he needed to deliver two bags to the address provided. Panicked, I call lost baggage and we figure out that yes, the third bag had been found, but not in time to get on the same flight as the first two. It has already been scheduled to get on the next flight to Porto, but that won’t be for two more days (remember there are only three flights a week). Then the representative makes a comment that doesn’t help our uneasiness. He tells me that it is strange that the system has been updated with a new flight this far in advance. They rarely know more than a day ahead of time when it will show up.

DOL +5

We again wait anxiously for the courier to call us with delivery information, but we hear nothing. Eventually, I get online to see if the system has been updated with any new information. There I notice two things: 1) the flight info has been updated to the next day and 2) there is now a prompt for us to fill out a claim form which includes inventorying the contents of the bag. Now I’m confused, remember I said that there were only three flights a week to Porto. So where the heck did this extra flight come from and why haven’t they been offering to use it instead? Even worse, why are they now asking about the contents of the bag?

DOL +6

I’m not going to lie, I’m a little pissed off now (and Fara is scared that we’re going to have to figure out how to replace some of the things in that bag). In trying to understand the new mystery flight our bag is coming in on, I finally realize that they are sending the bag to Lisbon (which is a daily flight) and then from Lisbon to Porto on another carrier. As soon as I am certain that the flight is on the ground and they’ve had enough time to unload the plain, I give lost baggage a call. They assure me that the bag is there and we should hear from the courier soon.

DOL +7

I guess “soon” means the next morning, because we are awoken by a phone call from the courier service. I don’t have my Portuguese translator handy, so we have to wait for the courier to find someone who speaks English. When he calls, we find out that we have two options for delivery: 1) send the bag today via train to a town close by and then a courier from there would deliver it two days later or 2) deliver it by car tomorrow. Obviously we chose door number two. What the caller couldn’t explain was the reason why it would take two days after the train for the first option. We later found out there was some sort of holiday and not everything would be open.

DOL +8

The last bag is finally delivered safe and sound.

While the whole ordeal was not something I’d ever wish for, at least it happened on this leg of our journey. We wanted to use Portugal as a time to regroup and slow down, and playing the waiting game with our lost baggage did force us to do just that. There were some stressful times, but they were mainly due to not knowing what to expect. Now that we’ve experienced it, we’ll know better if it happens again (knocking on wood that it doesn’t).