This summer my DH and I went to Annecy for three weeks with five (!) checked bags: a personal record (I am usually a carry-on bag lady). It wasn't the heat that addled our brains -- we were going to hike, bike, climb and do other outdoorsy stuff -- so we had a lot of gear. We even compression-packed two soft mattress toppers for the super-hard French beds. With all this gear in mind, we purposely purchased non-stop RT SAS flights from Stockholm to Geneva, a flight that usually takes about 2.5 hours.
Fast forward three hot weeks...we had a very nice trip (future TR) and on our last day in our rental, SAS cancelled our non-stop flight (who knows why) and stuck us on an Air France flight leaving a day later with a connection at CDG. We booked an IBIS near Geneva airport for the next evening and decided to spend a day sightseeing in Geneva.
The next day, our 2.5 hour flight turned into a nearly 7 hour slog (that had begun at 4:30 in the morning) with a delay at CDG and a stop to.... the Lost Luggage office at Arlanda. I had a sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach as the baggage carousel stopped turning, with me and 3 other people looking for our bags with quiet panic in our eyes. My bag was not there. We had paid an extra 70 euros because we lost our SAS baggage allowance. To add to the insult of losing my bag, one of our gear bags had suffered a massive ding with a wheel dangling precariously from a sliver of molded plastic.
The luggage guy registered the lost and damaged bags for us. Back home, dealing with AF online was frustrating. I tried to be zen about my loss and thankful I had packed some of my favorite and hard-to-replace items in my carry-on backpack. Finally, 7 days later, I got a text from Bring, a courier company, saying they would deliver my bag the next day at a selected time. I got no correspondence from Worldtracer or Air France whatsoever the entire time. But yay, I got my bag back!
Some Notes and Lessons Learned:
- Avoid checking bags on flights with a connection... but sometimes you just have to. In that case, use air tags. This was my first missing bag incident in nearly 30 years of plane travel, mostly with carry-ons.
- I left my packing list in my suitcase. Yikes. (Keeping the list in your personal item makes it easier to itemize things for forms like missing bag claims.)
- If your bag isn't on the carousel look around the hall first to see if someone pulled it off and left it, then go directly to the Lost Luggage counter and file a claim. Same for damaged bags -- make a claim right away before you leave the airport, no matter how tired you are. Make sure to ask the staff at the Lost Luggage counter what to expect after you file a claim.
- The Air France Worldtracer website is buggy. I couldn't go past the 2nd page after filling in my claim number and "PNR" number. Glad I didn't have to file an itemized list.
- I called the AF contact number and spoke with a Rep on the 2nd day. She asked me to list any notable items in my suitcase for easier ID. She was courteous. She didn't know what a packing cube was.
- Take photos of or write down luggage model info, color and size for future reference. Make sure to have ID tags on the bag with your last name and phone number or email address that are accessible to airport personnel. Use an air tag on connecting flights and maybe take a photo of the interior of your packed bag.
- Items that are precious to you or are hard to replace make sure to leave them at home or pack them in your personal item. In the bigger scheme of things, it's just stuff. I mentally prepared myself to let it all go. Hope this helps! Safe and happy travels!