Thursday, April 02, 2009


This photo is after the Denver snow last week started letting up.

People have been asking for details surrounding my recent flight to the East Coast. There were serious delays getting out of Denver last week, ranging from canceled flights to de-icing fluid leaking through the plane door onto passengers sitting inside. Those are just the quick details of the trip out. I feel the worst part was when I got to my destination, sans luggage. Sans luggage for a couple of days.

After calling United's baggage claim department, as I was instructed, I felt I was getting no where with this cause. But the fifth and, perhaps, most memorable conversation surrounding my missing bag went something like this (not for the faint of heart):

After a few brief minutes of dealing with the automated system, I finally alternated hitting the “0” for “Operator,” also known as “give me a real person or I will start cutting myself,” and slamming the phone into my forehead. When I landed a real conversation, and explained my situation, they said to me, “Did you file a claim?” Exasperated at having to answer this again, I said, “Yes, I filed a claim! I filed a claim at 4 this morning when I no longer feared for my life as your cracker jack flight dropped it’s ass end out of the sky!” My patience was through. I had now been without luggage for two days.

I wanted a change of clothes.

I wanted my toothbrush.

I wanted my flatiron.

Surprisingly empowered, I threw out a “You know what? I’m done with you. I’m so over you I can’t even put it into words. Who is your supervisor? I want to speak to your supervisor, I want some answers and I want my bag. Now. I want my bag now, so you get your supervisor and put them on the phone so I can tell them how highly unacceptable you and your airline and your baggage handling really is. Get your supervisor, get your supervisor right now.”

Somehow, I thought this would make a difference. I was placed on hold for nearly 20 minutes.

“Hello?” the voice said with an undistinguishable accent. “This is TonTang, I am the supervisor.”

“Who?!” I shouted at him in a voice somewhere between my own and my grandmother’s. (The live one, not the dead one. Though if I had channeled the voice of my dead grandmother to my conversation with TonTang the supervisor, I might’ve gotten somewhere.) “What did you say your name was?”

“TonTang, Miss.”

Trying to go to my happy place, “TonTang? Like, as in, TonTang?”

“Yes, Miss. TonTang.”

“Fine. Whatever. Whatever, TonTang,” I said like a crazy lady. “I am done with your people telling me to file a claim and wait for my bag. I know my bag is sitting in Logan International Airport at the Northwest counter, but because two of my Northwest airplanes yesterday were constructed out of tuna cans, I had to switch planes and come in on United.”

TonTang thought he had an in, “Yes, this is United Miss, you should call Northwest then, Miss.”

“But my final destination was with United, Tonto, not Northwest. That’s what I’m trying to tell you.” I was ready to throw myself into traffic.

“Oh,” TonTang said disappointed that he couldn’t get rid of me that easily. “Okay. Well just be patient and your bag will come.”

It’s a little tough to be patient when you’re sitting in the same clothes for several days and sensing that TonTang the supervisor didn’t really give three shits about my predicament said, “Here’s the deal Tito, I want you to walk right now from the United baggage claim and get my bag from Northwest. And when you have the bag in your sweaty hand, I want you to carry it back to the phone and rub the receiver against it so I can hear that it didn’t drop out of the airplane somewhere over Iowa.”

“Hold please, Miss,” and TonTang quickly placed me on hold.

I had an epiphany while listening to United’s bad take on Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue hold music; I shouldn’t be this upset. I shouldn’t be so mad that I was without my stuff. I certainly wasn’t stranded, it’s not like I was staying in a Guatemalan hut. I was 30 minutes outside of Boston and there was a T.J. Maxx across the street. Still, it was the principle of the whole thing. It’s not like flying is inexpensive, especially when the airline tacks on a bag charge to lose your belongings. I would’ve had more fun staying home and lighting the $15 on fire. I was lost in my thoughts of the unfairness of it all, like I was the only person in the universe who had ever had their bag lost and had to deal with TonTang the supervisor.

Fifteen minutes later, TonTang materialized. “Yes Miss, your bag came in this morning and should be delivered sometime today.”

“Seriously Tutu?!” it was like a Christmas Eve thrill. “You seriously have my bag and are going to get it to the courier?”

I sensed TonTang’s hesitance. “Um, no, Miss. I just looked it up on the computer. I didn’t see your bag.”

“WHAT?” I was going to reach through the phone and rip loose TonTang’s larynx. “I told you to go get my bag. I know where it is. You just have to go and get it and tell me that you’ve seen it. Please, TinTin, I can’t handle this anymore.” Pleading took over, “Please, you have to just walk your little legs down there and get the bag.”

“I can’t do that, Miss,” he said as I realized TonTang was hiding something. “I told you the scan said the bag came in this morning, but I can’t see the bag.”

I figured it all out. “The jig is up; where are you Toto? Where are you sitting right now? Where on this planet are you physically, geographically holding the telephone and talking to me right now?”

With a gulp and a sheepish confession, TonTang the supervisor admitted why he couldn’t see my bag. TonTang the supervisor divulged the information that confirmed my shady suspicions about the United baggage claim customer service department. “New Delhi, Miss.” And now TonTang the supervisor would pay dearly.

“So you lied to me, TipTop? You said you were walking down to get my bag and you just put me on hold and laughed and told all of your evil minions that you had a stupid crazy lady on the phone? Because I highly doubt you could’ve walked to Boston from India in just 15 minutes. You’re telling me that you’re a liar and that you will stop at nothing to pacify me like I was some idiot on the phone. United Airlines employs liars! Liar!” I might’ve been getting a bit dramatic.

“Yes Miss,” he said, “But be patient and your bag will come.” Still trying to stick as closely as possible to his “I am trying to sound like I’m located in the United States” script. I was exhausted, I was frustrated, I was still wearing the same underwear I had on when I left Mountain Time Zone. be continued... In the meantime, you're welcome to check out some of the photos I took the other day here.


dolt said...

Poor Holly.

With a mode of transportation which could subject a traveler to body cavity searches and full body scans, nothing is surprising.

Save tax payer dollars, fly naked.