Monday, January 9, 2017

Baggage Lost, Baggage Found

Happy New Year, everyone!

I know I owe you (whoever happens to be reading this blog) two years worth of greetings because I didn't update my blog at all last year.

I spent the holidays at home in the Philippines and a lot of things have changed, like how traffic has gotten worse, but I had a good vacation, nonetheless. I met up with high school friends, I got my teeth cleaned, my hair cut, my eyes checked, and my docs for my return to Japan all ready. So, yeah. Everything was going smoothly.

The good vibes continued even on my return trip to Japan. First, the flight from Davao to Manila was ahead of schedule - we landed 25 minutes earlier than the scheduled time! Next, I learned that the ticket I bought for my international flight included the terminal fee and since OFWs are exempted from paying the terminal fee, I can get a refund of Php 550.00. I passed through immigration without trouble - never had trouble - and finally, even though the flight from Manila to Haneda took off later than the scheduled departure time, we still landed on time! But the good vibes ended there.

After I got through Immigration at Haneda (which, by the way, takes no more than a few minutes if you're a re-entrant) I hurried to the carousel to wait for my checked-in baggage. This was the most nerve-wracking part. To be honest, I started having a bad feeling on the last hour of the international flight. I just casually dismissed it as me having a pessimistic and overactive imagination. Anyway, I thought my baggage was going to be one of the last ones because I checked in earlier than most of the passengers so I waited and waited. When the last bag came and was claimed by its owner, I stood for some time by the carousel, frozen in disbelief that my bag never came.

As soon as it sank in that my bag was missing, I sprang into action. I approached the airport staff standing by the carousel and, calmly, told her that my bag is missing. She asked for a description and immediately radioed someone at the cargo unloading to check for a bag that fit my description. There was a pause on the line and after a few moments, I heard a man's voice from the radio say (Japanese translated to English), "There isn't." I felt my chest tighten and my knees wobble and I thought, "I can't believe this is happening to me!" The airport staff turned to me with a "I'm so sorry"-look on her face. I knew what she was going to say; I heard the man on the radio. The lump in my throat was threatening to burst but I took a deep breath and smiled at the lady. She then took out a form and started asking me for more details like my passport number, my flight route, the contents of my bag, the lock type, etc. I also gave her the baggage claim sticker that was attached to my domestic flight boarding pass. After asking me all the necessary questions and having me fill up my contact details, she told me that they will immediately launch a formal search for my baggage and they will contact me if they find it. Since there really was nothing else we can do, I was advised to go home. She accompanied me to the customs counter (the last checkpoint), where the officer gave me a look of pity after hearing my situation from the lady.

I could feel some of the people staring at me as I exited with only a small shoulder-bag in tow. I mean, I was probably the only person who gets back from an international flight- and right after the holidays, too!- with nothing on her. They must have been thinking, "What a light-packer!" Well, yes, I am a light-packer but this time, it's different.

Fast-forward to the next day, I stood on vigil by my phone all morning, waiting for their call. Noon came and nothing. When three o'clock came and still no call, I was beginning to think that if my bag was "find-able," they should've been able to find it by now. Of course, they could've just been busy; it's the holidays, after all. I was in the middle of telling myself that there was a chance that my bag (and all the goodies I packed) won't be found, when my phone rang. With shaky hands, I picked up and on the other end was a representative from ANA (All Nippon Airways). They have found my baggage and it was scheduled to be flown to Haneda the next morning and will be delivered directly to my apartment on the night of the same day at the earliest. I was so overwhelmed with relief that all I could say was a heartfelt "Thank you!"

Wow! This experience was really... something! I know for a fact that things like lost airport baggage do happen but I never thought I'd be one of the unlucky people it would happen to. I am amazed and grateful that ANA wasted no time in taking action and quickly found my bag, because in most airlines, if an item is not found within 5 days from the day it was first reported missing, it will be declared forever lost and the necessary claims will be filed. This time constraint really worried me. But, thank God, my baggage was found!

So, my bag actually got delivered 2 days after the call, 3 days after I got back. Now, I can finally give out the Philippine treats I brought to my co-workers.

Is there a lesson in this story? Not really. All I can say is do not hesitate to report immediately if your bag is missing. The earlier you report, the better the chance of finding your luggage and intercept it before it gets flown out to an entirely different destination.

Once again, thank you, ANA!

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