"TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER"
The hapless lost baggage agentt at the Marseilles airport called it a "situation sauvage." It's now five days, and we've received one of our four bags from Lufthansa. The other three are--where? no one knows, least of all Lufthansa, the airline who has apparently had a complete system failure in at least three of its airports, including two if its biggest hubs.
We flew on United and Lufthansa because that's where we have the best status. We originally booked our tickets to Munich, and on to Marseilles because there aren't really that many easy international ways to get to Marseilles via United.
In the past, we've gotten burned by flying through Frankfurt, which is an airport hell on earth for transferring, especially with a kid or two. So Munich, which is a beautiful airport, very easy.
Except a few months ago, United called me to reroute our tickets because Lufthansa was dropping its Munich-US service. And rather than go through Frankfurt, we accepted a change to London Heathrow [out of the transferring frying pan, I know.], then to Munich. We had a leisurely 2-2.5 hr layover in each city, so we decided to take it, and use the ground time to let the kids run loose, eat foot at a table, maybe get a McRib at the Banhof station outside the airport, etc.
When our flight from DC arrived early to Heathrow, there was an agent escorting passengers to the Munich flight. "Oh not you, Mr. Allen, your flight isn't for two hours." By the time we'd walked the length of the terminal, though, we found out that London was being paralyzed by one freakin' inch of snow, and Lufthansa had begun canceling and freezing flights across the board.
We ended up spending seven hours, not two, in Heathrow [where, fortunately, we were entertained by the interrogation and arrest of the very chavvy Russian couple sitting next to us; they had been spotted--on a dozen CCTV's, I'm sure--shoplifting an extra bottle of perfume from a duty-free shop.
At 10AM, we were told we were confirmed on a 1:00 flight, so we chilled, then at 1040 I went back to check about checking in, and the nice-but-clueless agent panicked, why weren't we on the 1100 flight like we were supposed to be? Off we ran, and this is where we figured we might have parted ways with our luggage [though Lufthansa was apparently under the impression that we were supposed to be on the earlier flight. Shouldn't they have had the same expectation for our bags?]
We sit on the runway in London so long, that our Munich connection was just like 15 minutes, so we hauled ass, only to find out the gate agent had given away our seats. [Though the connection was so close, they'd also picked up another party of five from our plane and driven them--in a car, across the tarmac--straight to the Marseilles plane. I've never heard of that, nor of giving away confirmed passengers' seats, but anyway.] 2.5 hours at Munich, long enough to get the McRib, at least. What a fancy McDonald's they have there.
When we finally got into Marseilles 27 hours after we'd left, of course there are no bags. This has happened to us before on this route, at this airport, so it's unfortunately not a surprise. But it's always been an overnight thing, and then all the stuff arrives on the next flight the next day. But not this time.
The way the baggage agent told us Saturday, when our bags didn't arrive as promised, Lufthansa had complete chaotic meltdowns at Heathrow, Frankfurt, and Munich, all possible locations/transfer points for our bags. One bag finally showed up yesterday--the kid's--but the reported status of our bags hasn't changed at all: "TRACING CONTINUES. PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER." We are told this basically means Lufthansa has still not managed to even locate the bags and log them back into the system, much less start them moving toward us.
We bought the kids a change of clothes each on Sunday at the awful mega-mall. The wife and I finally broke down and bought ourselves some clothes, too, and we began replacing all the Christmas presents. It's a bit comic--actually, no, it's a huge pain in the ass. When a blogger is itching for a change of clothes, you know it's serious.
Anyway, we're a bit wary of replacing everything, despite Lufthansa's apparent ineptitude. On the off chance that they have actually lost our luggage for good, we don't want to be blowing too much of our EUR2,200 reimbursement on ticky tacky French crap; we'll already get burned because we have far more than that packed into the suitcases.
Now look, I'd told myself I wasn't going to get all Dooce-y and lay out the case for Lufthansa's complete suckitude and non-responsiveness, the way she did with the screwups at Maytag, and here I am. Unfortunately, I have approximately 1.4999 million fewer Twitter followers than she does, so it may not matter. Be assured, though, that the battle--and the blogging of the battle--with Lufthansa will go on as long as they continue to screw up my and my family's lives. Stay tuned.