August 14, 2014

Why I'll Never Forget DFW Baggage Carousel B20

Maybe if I just write about this suitcase thing, I'll feel better. So one of our suitcases got lost on our first little one hour flight right before our big international flight. At the time, it was not a big deal to me. We were almost late for the international flight, so even though they found the suitcase before we left Dallas, we were in Terminal D and it was in Terminal B with no way to get to it. They said they'd send it on. We haven't seen it since.

Problem number one...our flights were not "connected" (because we purchased our tickets at separate times since it saves money if we book the big international flight separately) so we couldn't check our bags all the way to Shenyang starting out in Midland. Our first flight was just a simple, one hour leap to get us and our eight checked bags to Dallas.  We would have three hours to claim our luggage in Dallas, switch terminals and then re-check it with the other airline for the international flight.

At the time, I was agreeable to the situation since the domestic airline didn't charge us for our checked baggage since we were transferring to an international flight. They could've been picky and charged us as much as $300 extra! So, we'd get to Dallas, get the bags and the kids on the inter-terminal transfer bus, get to Korean Air, get through security, get Starbucks, get on the plane. Sounds simple (if not exhausting), right? Well, it was supposed to be. It has ended up anything from simple.

Problem number two...we arrived in Dallas on time and proceeded to baggage claim carousel B20. I will never forget baggage claim carousel B20. We promptly herded our three children and all the carry-ons to baggage claim and waited eagerly for the bags. Twenty minutes later, nothing had happened. We re-checked the flight board which still said "B20."

I asked a lady nearby at the baggage help desk and she disinterestedly said, "Oh, it's jaaaaaaammed," like that happens every day.

"Jammed?" I said, "I've gotta claim my bags and get over to the international terminal."

"They're working on it." she said, blinking slowly like she might nod off to sleep and fall off her chair any second.

Returning to B20, I gave Jeremy the update as he watched the two boys run laps around the carousel. Good time to get some energy out before the big flight, I guess. 20 more minutes went by, the boys were now wrestling on the ground, and luggage still did not appear.

"I've gotta go get someone to make this their problem!" I said, trotting off to the airline check-in counter, baby in tow.So, I plead my case to another employee, and, thankfully, she became a little more interested than the last lady.

"I've got to get 3 kids and 8 bags to Terminal D before I miss my International flight!" I said, trying to smile so she'd help me.

She picked up the phone, called so-and-so who said such-and-such and what's-his-face is working on it. Ten more minutes went by (somehow I kept my cool, but that cannot be said about an irate lady at the counter beside me). The report came back that our luggage was indeed stuck in the ramp inside the carousel and they couldn't get to it until maintenance was done working on it in ten or so minutes.

After waiting a total of ONE HOUR, the baggage carousel finally began spitting out bags. Low and behold, our bags were just right behind that little rubble curtain! 1...2...3...4...5...6...7................Where's the red bag?????? Baggage carousel B20 lurched to a halt. One of our bags was missing. You've got to be kidding me.

I went back to the dozing lady at the baggage desk and proceeded to fill out a missing bag report, all the while trying not to shout, "Hurry the hell up! My plane leaves in less than 2 hours and I have to get THREE KIDS AND EIGHT...uh make that seven...BAGS over to Terminal D."

Somehow, I managed to be nice and smile and not wake up sleeping baby who was strapped to my chest. I felt reassured that this lady would help get my bag to Shenyang somehow, because that's the hope I had at the moment, and without that hope I might have lost it.

Problem number 3...we have three kids and eight...uh...make that seven...bags and would need three "smart carts" to get it all over to the inter-terminal bus stop that is close enough to see from where we are, but far enough away to be impossible. I noticed a valet's cart sitting over in the corner that hadn't moved for an hour. No one was using it or even seemed to know about it. I dashed over (in a gentle manner because, remember, baby is sleeping) and hauled it over to Jeremy who threw the bags on the cart like we were robbing someone and we hauled butt (like a turtle racing a snail) over to the bus stop where we waited ten more minutes for the bus we had seen roll by like thirty times when we didn't need it.

Problem number 4...when we got off the inter-terminal bus with our THREE KIDS AND SEVEN BAGS, there were no valets or carts to be found. Again, we could see where we needed to be, but it was just far enough away to be impossible. We tried the "grab that cart and run!" scheme again, but got caught, so Jeremy had to load a cart, unload a cart and finally I found a valet who was helpful, but didn't run like I wanted him to!

We finally got the kids and bags to the Korean Air check in desk with 15 minutes to spare before they wouldn't have accepted our bags. And, that's when I ran into my coach from high school who I haven't seen in forever! Ha! Nothing like being a sweaty, baby-wearing lunatic to greet someone I haven't seen in ages. The boys were feeding off all the frenzied energy and had to be separated before one of them hurt themselves or took down the entire maze of line-guiding straps that were now empty because everyone else had already checked in for our flight.

Thankfully, security was a breeze (which never happens in the D terminal of DFW). We were able to slip past the line using the priority line. Korean Air told us to do it. And, Jeremy didn't even have to go through the "see your whole body" machine because we had stuff and kids everywhere. I think we sat for ten minutes in the terminal before it was time to board our flight.

So, it's been a week and a half, and I still have not seen my lost suitcase. The internet says 98% of lost bags are found within 2-3 weeks. I'm still holding out hope, but it's causing some mafan (trouble) that I'd rather not deal with.

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