Chris is back, and he had his worst trip since moving here -- despite flying alone, business class. He's quite sick with the flu, which is mainly the reason.
He was exhausted upon arrival in Moscow, eager to claim his suitcases and head home... I had arranged for a car to meet him -- a premium "business class" type of cab -- since this particular business trip allowed for that kind of perk.
Then reality hit.
He had checked his carry-on rolling suitcase at the gate since he realized he was too sick to use any of the contents, and it was bulky.
It never arrived. I've yet to discover how many of things he was bringing back for me were in that bag; he's too sick/afraid to tell me...
Not only didn't it arrive, but no one can even tell us where it is... Usually when a bag doesn't make it, they can pinpoint it's location because of the computer scans for the baggage tag. Not this time. No one would help him. I tried calling for assistance from here, but they wouldn't answer the phone.
Then, due to new changes in Russian laws about customs, he had declare all the contents in the lost bag; without doing so, he couldn't file a claim for the lost luggage. Since if you have to declare one bag, ALL bags must be declared, they opened everything up and tried to make him pay 200 Euros ($266) -- that's including customs duties on the suitcase contents he may never even receive!
I've NEVER (knock on wood! knock on wood!) had to open a suitcase upon arrival or pay a penny -- even when we moved here initially with 14 pieces of luggage!
Chris refused to pay and somehow got out of it, but there's no word on the bag... And he was in business class!!! To lose it at the gate, when you're not even in economy and your bag is tagged for VIP handling, is ridiculous! And to then not even apologize or offer assistance?
Delta, you've just lost some loyal customers. From now on the girls and I will go with Aeroflot. Better food, actually better service, and their excess luggage fee is $100 -- for a 70 lb bag! Delta charges $280! Delta and Aeroflot are frequent flyer mile partners, so our miles will all still be good. Safety standards are the same, too, since they use the same plans and often combine flights.
Chris left to find his driver, only to have the driver refuse to put his luggage in the VIP car I'd ordered. (Since the trunk can't hold three pieces -- which Chris was allowed in business class). They didn't want his dirty luggage inside the car, which I can understand -- but they were going to just leave him and make him wait for a new cab.
They worked it all out, though, somehow, and he made it home. He has been asleep, with a high fever, ever since.
Hmm... I think this whole "expat travel hassle thing" might be starting to grate on him, too... (Contain your joy, grandparents!)
p.s. AAAAARRRGH!!!! The stuff that was lost? Every single book I had ordered from Amazon! All the books I intended to use in my lessons tomorrow at school, and for the rest of the year! Now I need to think up all new ideas for tomorrow, after unpacking, cooking for the next four days, being Mom all day... THAT, folks, is why I physically carry onto the airplane every possible thing I can get away with... THAT way I know it doesn't get lost...
Edited: You're right, Expatress!!!! I forgot to mention that!!! Russia DID change it's policy, and Chris IS obliged to go pick up his lost bag in person -- or go through some expensive and quite time-consuming legal proceedings to give someone else permission to pick it up in his stead. I can't even go get it for him without going through all that! I don't have any time to deal with the notary, not to mention then head out to the airport (bye, bye a half a day at least...).
At least this trip was for business, so I hope his office will pay for someone else to do whatever is necessary to claim the bag.
THAT BEING SAID, ALL OF THIS DISCUSSION ASSUMES THAT THE (MY!!!!!) LOST BAG ACTUALLY IS EVER RECOVERED AND GETS TO MOSCOW... One must NOT assume that...