I fly a lot. I’ve flown a lot. Twenty years ago when I interviewed in California for what was to become my first job – I had never flown. Then, when I showed up for that job, they immediately sent me on the road for 5 weeks. That was in 1987 and I don’t think it slowed down at all until about 2002, when I was traveling about 150,000 miles per year.
Now, you probably don’t care about this, but it is important context for this story.
1994 – Living in the U.K.
Back in 1994, I took an assignment for Trusted Information Systems to work in the U.K. developing our then-burgeoning firewall business. Up to that point, about 95% of my air travel had been on United or American Airlines and I had racked up quite a few air miles.
However, knowing I would be flying out of Heathrow for the next three years, I decided I should start preferring British Airlines (an AA partner) as the airline of choice, as that would certainly provide me with the most consistent, direct routing everywhere I needed to go.
Shortly thereafter, I booked a trip and flew on British Air and something happened that had not happened in over 7 years of flying – they misplaced my luggage on the return flight. Now, when I had moved to England, I only took two pieces of luggage – everything else was on a ship in transit. These two pieces of luggage contained my everything I owned in England. Worse, the next day my CEO was due and we were taking a joint visit up to Cheltenham. Embarrassing to say the least. The good/bad news was that when we returned from Cheltenham, my luggage was sitting out on the sidewalk outside of my flat. Good thing it was a safe neighborhood! Even better that it hadn’t rained!
I was not happy with BA, but hey, once in seven years it is bound to happen, right? And those darn routes were *so* appealing compared to flying lots of different routes around Europe. So, I gave it a few more tries:
- Flight 2 on BA – misplaced luggage
- Flight 3 on BA – misplaced luggage
- Flight 4 on BA – my luggage was NOT misplaced (yeah!)
- Flight 5 on BA – misplaced luggage
- Flight 6 on BA – misplaced luggage
I gave up. Now I had colleagues who flew on BA at least as much as me and this never happened to them. Ultimately, I concluded that this was just one of those little quirks in life: Jeff + BA = bad luck, and acted accordingly to develop excellent relationships with British Midlands, KLM, SAS, Lufthanse and so on.
2002 – Another Try
I returned to the US at the end of 1997 and mostly forgot about my BA experiences, well not forgot, but it didn’t matter much anymore. A few years went by and in 2002 I was trying to book a flight to Hannover, Germany. It was a personal trip and I was being cost-conscious, so it was with some trepidation that I booked on BA through London.
I was so happy when my first bag came off in Hannover, think my BA-streak had been broken. I might point out in this part of the story that in 15 years of flying, I had not had my luggage misplaced by any airline except BA. It was with some sadness that I found myself as with four other people still waiting for my second bag when the baggage finished.
We all marched up to lost luggage to fill out forms. As usual, the luggage showed up about 2 days later.
2007 – Taking the Leap Again!
Fast forward to this week. Business trip to Germany. I selected a flight itinerary involving SAS, United and Lufthansa, but Travelport comes back to me telling me this is out of policy and instead offers three itineraries, drastically cheaper, and all on British Air! No choice really, I had to take BA.
So, last night when I got to the airport two hours early, I tried to be cautiously optimistic. It was hard to maintain this attitude when during checkin, I was informed that my flight was delayed from 6:45pm to 9:10pm. I went to the Lounge, pulled out my laptop and worked for a while. We took off and the flight was great – I had one of those great folds-nearly-flat BA business class seats. No complaints. Changed flights in Heathrow (which was brutal) and landed in Berlin.
First bag off of the line – my bag! I was so happy. Ten minutes, no second bag. Twenty minutes, no second bag. Thirty minutes, no second bag. Out comes the “final bag” sign and … Jeff’s second bag is nowhere to be found.
They’ve done it to me again. I got to spend an extra hour with several other people (mostly standing in line) filling out lost luggage form. I’m only in Berlin for one day. Then I’m only in Hamburg one day. Then I’m only in Munich one day. It will be interesting to see if my luggage catches up with me…
UPDATE: Read the rest of the “saga” in The Saga of My Luggage & British Air – Prologue