Well this is my first time to slow down long enough to think, nearly 120 hours post arrival. Was it really only 5 days ago..?
Let me start from the beginning..
I arrived Tuesday after having a great 2 flights. The meals were pretty good for being airline food, the weather was perfect, and there was essentially 0 turbulence. I ended up checking in my small bag at the airport, since I showed up and realized my big bag was 5 pounds over the weight limit. No, it was not just over the “extra charge” weight limit, but over the “too heavy, ship as cargo” limit. I even got one of those “bend your knees, may need assistance” tags on it. Oh yeah. At that point I took out a jacket and switched a few liquids to the small suitcase, bringing my bag out to be a meager 69.5 pounds. But I digress.
I arrived to Madrid in such a great mood, having every new release available on my own little tv on the plane, and getting a good 4-5 hours of sleep. I had met 2 girls on my connecting flight who are in my program. Customs was non-existent, and there was an unheard of no line for non-eu citizens to enter. Everything was perfect*.
*famous last words.
I get to the luggage carousel, and one by one by one they come out. Mine will be next. I knew I was in trouble when the flight attendants grabbed the last few bags and left. I go up to the Iberia desk, where the lady explains to me she has no idea what happened. Finally, when my eyes start glowing red, in broken English she finally did some research and explained to me that my connecting flight was too late to get the baggage from one flight to the next.
NOW, here is my advice for anyone and everyone packing for a flight: PACK 3 DAYS WORTH OF CLOTHES IN YOUR CARRY ON. I had no clothes since I checked my other bag at last second, and didn’t switch any clothes into my carry on. This was my biggest mistake!!
She promised me 8 times that my luggage would be on the next flight and would arrive in the morning by 11 am. I called my insurance who said I would have to receive my bags 24 hours late to be given the $100 stipend, so I tried to wait until the next day for my bags. Thankfully the girls from my program waited for me, and we all headed back to the hostel. I stayed up long enough to go get a cell phone plan, then hit the sack.
The next morning I woke up like it was Christmas morning to see if my suitcases were out in the lobby. 9 am. 10 am. 11 am. 12 pm. 1 pm. NOTHING. I tried calling Iberia, only to find out the number was a long distance number, and once calling, they would hang up after 20 minutes of being on hold. Apparently this is typical. Fantastic.
Finally, after a nice warm shower and the 24 hr mark passed, still wearing the same clothes as yesterday I ventured out to find a clothing store. I’m not going to lie, I looked ROUGH, still wearing my plane wear. First of all, it’s not acceptable to ever wear yoga pants and a big tshirt here.. Ever. Second, it’s REALLY not acceptable to wear that same set of clothes for longer than I care to admit. I had eyes ALL over me. I ducked into the first acceptable clothing store I could find, which thankfully was Zara! I found the first pair of pants and shirt I could find, looked at the sale associate, and asked pathetically if I could wear my new clothes out of the store. She agreed a little too readily for my liking. Walking out of the store, I felt like I was finally in Madrid for the first time! No weird looks.. Maybe I even kind of fit in..
Then back to the airport I went. I was not taking no for an answer. I wanted my luggage and I wanted it now! When I got there, each person pointed me in a different direction. Finally, I was sent to this obscure office, which happened to be labeled “Iberia Lost Luggage”. It was an entire office devoted to their lost luggage, and it was huge. This solidified the fact that Iberia really is TERRIBLE when it comes to luggage.
After haggling with the lady, she told me they had found one suitcase and it was here, and the other was lost. I asked her to define lost, to which she replied, “I don’t know what to tell you. It may show up, it may not. Call us in 3 days if it doesn’t.” I would, if it didn’t hang up on me and charge long distance for every call..
The woman handed me a sheet of paper and sent me back into the airport, giving me very vague directions about where to go. 30 minutes later weaving in and out and asking about 10 people directions, I arrived to a smelly dusty luggage room full of “lost luggage”. My big bag was sitting right there. I told the man I wanted to take it with me. He tried to convince me that he was bringing it “either later that day or the following morning”, and to leave it. NO WAY. On my way out, I glanced over only to see my green luggage tag sticking out of a huge section of bags!! This was later referred to as the “pile of no return”. These were bags that “didn’t have tags (which mine had 2) that were “unclaimed”, and my bag was accidentally pushed into this group. Thank god for that green tag!!
Finally I was reunited with my bags!! I was so happy I think I shed some tears of joy. I didn’t even care I could hardly drag them up and down the metro stairs, and up the stairs of my hostel :). That night I celebrated my first “real” night in Madrid with new friends.
Oh and next time I am forced to fly Iberia, this will no doubt be my reaction:
Have you lost your luggage before? What airline? How have you packed differently since then?