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Friday, 11 May 2007

Easyjet lost my bag

I know. Not an original complaint. But still.

Easyjet lost my bag.

I arrived in Belfast with Dave to do a street festival gig, so had a suitcase full of props and my big ski bag with my very hard to replace imported folding table in it, from off which I pull tablecloths. Didn't turn up on the baggage carousel. No panic, it's a big bag so often comes in oversize. Not this time. So we wait, and wait, and finally decide it's not coming, so off I go to the little room full to report it.

The little room is great, about the size of my kitchen and full of bit of peoples luggage that have gone missing and never been claimed. A single ski leans up again and chest of draws on which lays a full set of crockery and some baby's toys. All lost, never returned. Behind the desk sits a harassed little man ignoring the phone. I tell him about my bag, describe it carefully, give him my mobile number. "There are three more flights from Gatwick today, it'll probably come on one of those. When it does I'll get it delivered to your hotel. If it doesn't arrive tonight, I've got your number, I'll keep you informed", he lies. Stupidly, I believe him and feel sure that it's just behind me somewhere.

Next morning I wake up after a restful sleep. No bag. We manage to convince the hotel to let us borrow one of their meeting room tables to us for the act, which they do, as long as we give them a £200 deposit, which I make Dave do.

The rest of the long weekend passes by in a riot of torrential rain and gale force winds. Still no table and no phone calls.

Then it's Tuesday morning and I'm back at the airport to go home. I decide to pay a visit to the little room again. This time there are two middle-aged women there. I explain the situation, and they look my file up on the computer, check my details and suck their teeth. "See", one of them says, "The problem is Gatwick aren't answering their phones". "All of Gatwick?", I ask? They explain to me that Easyjet at Gatwick have just started doing all the baggage handling themselves, that week, and, it appears, haven't quite got the hang of it as yet. I whinge a bit about this not really being my problem, and how I didn't get any phone calls let alone my bag. They take my home address and I ask for a number to call. They give me the generic Easyjet customer service number and I refuse to take it, knowing - from previous googling - that it's an expensive number that has an average 20 minute wait time. She bashfully gives me the direct line to the lost baggage department, and off I go to board my flight home. Still seeing the predictably funny side. For now.

We land at Gatwick, and I'm amongst the first off the plane. Following the signs to passport control, and as I approach the man behind the passport counter looks terrified. "Where have you flown from?", he exclaims, perhaps a little too loudly. "Belfast", I say. "No!", he replied, "Go back, you cant come through here, go up the ramp to the other side". I smile, say ok, and reverse back up the long ramp, go across to where he pointed, and back down the other side, where I am met by another man in uniform who questions me in an identical manner, and sends me all the way back around to the first man, who looks even more terrified when he sees us coming again. "No!" He's almost shouting now, "You can't come through here. Go back". I explain calmly, that we just got sent back to him, but he won't have it and continues to shout right at me, "YOU CAN'T COME THROUGH HERE!", "Fine", I say, "Where do we go?", "YOU CAN'T COME THROUGH HERE!", "Yes", I say, "So where do we go?". This continues for another few rounds, until I suggest he calls someone who can help us, and, grudgingly, he does. His supervisor appears and asks us where we're from and who we flew with. On hearing Belfast and Easyjet, he visibly flinches, displaying the expression one might have after being told that someone had just shit in your sandwich. "Tell me about it", I respond. He tells us that we can go through, but we'll have to find an Easyjet staff member to then escort us back airside to pick up our checked in bags which have be re-routed to another part of the airport.

This is the exact point that my ability to see the funny side failed completely.

Luckily I had an advantage - years ago I worked for two weeks every day at Gatwick airport and therefore know it like the back of my hand, including the staff-only bits. So it was with a screwed-up expression of anger on my face, that I stomped off through a staff door, found my way backstage to the right baggage claim, got my bag and went home with a tiny sense of victory in the larger continuing defeat.

The rest of the week I called Easyjet every day, sometimes several times, and was given a spectacular panoply of lies and misdirections. My favourite being "Your bag will be with you today, it's with the baggage delivery people, call them.", on calling them, "No, We don't have it from Easyjet yet", then on calling Easyjet back, "We'll call you when we can get through to Gatwick", "No, how about you call me this afternoon whether or not you get through, so then I'll know if I have to wait in all day for my bag", "No. We don't do that". Not forgetting, of course, the classic, "Can I talk to your supervisor please", "No, I don't think that's needed.", "Well, I think it is", "No, it really isn't". etc etc etc.

During one phone call to the baggage delivery people (The earth-shatteringly named "GroundCare Solutions"), I was so exasperated by Easyjet leading me astray once again that I giggled "You know, I think I'll just go ahead and kill myself". "Ooh no", said the GroundCare lady, "You don't want to do that", "You haven't had the week I've had", I said. "Cheer up - it's the weekend soon", she tried. "I work weekends", I said, "Using the bag that still hasn't been delivered to me". "Oh." she said.

It's Friday now, and my bag is finally here. A full week after Easyjet lost it. Delivered by a driver who, winningly, said "Sorry I'm late, this is my first visit to London."

Any guesses on how many times an Easyjet employee actually apologised or expressed any kind of regret for losing my bag?



Anonymous said...

Yesterday I start being in the same situation. This time from Luton to Belfast.
I hope I can wait one week...

Anonymous said...

I have the we live without our bags in spain...thei must send it from rix to berlin, bet send to greec....and now thwy are missing frankfurt or malaga!!!!

American in London said...

I found your blog by googling EasyJet + lost luggage, and all I can say is you're lucky you even got your bag back. I've been trying for three months to get my lost luggage returned to me (or at least some kind of reimbursement), and the case seems hopeless. I feel like such a sucker for flying EasyJet so often and then being treated this way when they're the ones who lost my bag.

If you know any tips for successfully getting luggage back, please let me know. I'm currently in an endless letter-writing, form-filling hell with the airline.