After 40+ hours of travelling, three long flights and a boat ride from warm, tropical Southeast Asia to Wintertime NYC my luggage containing warmer clothes and pretty much everything needed for survival past a few days was lost. With only my trusty Superdry jumpsuit and some minimal items I made the best of it while still having fun. Here are some of my hobo adventures.
Always Be Carrying-On
I’ve been on countless flights and sometimes checked luggage, never with any real issues. In the last several years I’ve gone out of my way to pack as light as possible and pretty much never check luggage unless I have to, either for inter-country logistics or if I’m carrying items not approved for carry-on. This was one of those exceptions, mainly due crossing several continents and time zones with drastically different climates (Southeast Asia to NYC, to the Rocky Mountains).
On a flight from Abu-Dhabi to NYC Etihad airlines lost my checked luggage. This put me in New York City for 6 days without any clothes or jacket – only the sketchy looking jumpsuit I wear on long flights. I was scheduled to the spend the next week with close friends, going to restaurants, out and about in the city doing things. I decided to make the best of it.
Some friends of mine work in finance in the city, as such they are fairly well-dressed after work, it was interesting accompanying them to high-end whiskey bars, pubs and restaurants in the jumpsuit.
The most enjoyment I got out of all of this was looking really sketch and creeping people out, though I think New Yorkers are nearly immune to creepy human behavior.
Let’s Walk Around China Town
What about Little Italy?
Museum of Modern Art?
The security guards at the MoMA looked nervous most of the time.
Giggles are the Bane of Disaster
In the grand scheme of things I had it pretty good. I had money for food, a place to stay and great company. Losing all your clothes isn’t that big of a deal, especially if you eventually get them back. Lots of people have none of those things.
I never got my luggage back the entire time I was in the city – it ended up being returned several days later after I had already arrived in North Carolina.
I’m still working on getting compensation via travel insurance, as Etihad airlines was not helpful in this regard and would not assist at all. I will say the baggage staff at JFK airport were helpful and friendly but they were seriously understaffed and it took days for simple email responses. There were no direct numbers or contacts for anyone at the airlines for baggage recovery, only a 1990’s web form where they would occasionally respond via email.
Update: Etihad CS on Twitter replied to me after I wrote/tweeted this, stating they’d get me to someone in their claims department, they emailed me back within 24hours and I’m processing a claim now. Their policy for delayed luggage is $40 per day for a maximum of $120 “interim relief”
We are glad you received your baggage. Because of the delay as per our policy you are entitled to $120 interim relief ($40 per day for a maximum of 3 days). Please find the form attached for the remaining $80. Also please include a copy of your passport of processing, the documents can be scanned. Our apologies.
Update: I did receive a refund for the time my luggage was lost from Etihad. After some further back and forth a check arrived at my parents address in North Carolina.
Most of these should be obvious.
- Never check luggage unless you have to.
- Always pack fresh underwear/socks and shirts in carry-on if you have to check luggage.
- Take pictures of checked luggage and ensure up-to-date address info is displayed.
- Always save boarding passes and baggage check stickers until after the trip.
- Never put any valuable credentials or must-have items in checked luggage, ever.
- Most travel insurance have clauses for reimbursement but like all insurance it’s a gigantic hassle to actually get any money back for anything.
If your luggage is lost
- Most luggage is never actually lost, it’s tracked very closely (TSA makes sure of that).
- It happens frequently, don’t freak out you’ll probably get it back.
- Try and make the best of your situation, keep receipts for anything you buy to compensate.
- Get everything in writing/email when corresponding with airlines or baggage services.