Sunday, January 18, 2009

That's What You Get for Flying Business Class?

(Edited below)

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.



Marinka said...

That sounds absolutely terrible!

I'm new to your blog, but I laughed at the "knock wood". So Russian. Did you knock wood as much before you moved to Moscow? I haven't lived in Russia for over 30 years, and I still spit over my shoulder.

MoscowMom said...

Hi, Marinka! What you wrote was "right on;" I had, in fact, almost written, "Spit! Spit! Ptew! Ptew!" instead of "knock on wood"!!!!


Yes, being here I've picked up some of the superstitions... after violating so many of them for the first couple of years and freaking out the babushki! In fact, I did a long post on that two years ago... Search "superstitions" in the lijit blog content box on my sidebar and you'll find it. I'd love to hear your thoughts about it --- any I might have forgotten :-)

Happy Campers said...

It sounds like you need to take the week off~!!

The Expatresse said...

To add insult to injury, I have heard that since the first of the year, Russia makes the bag owner return to the airport to claim the luggage. They won't (always) deliver it to you any more.

Let us know what happens.

Perhaps he has my nasty cold (I'm still coughing up lung and changing knickers . . . TMI . . .

MoscowMom said...

Hiya, Happy Campers and Expatress --

I edited the post to include the info about the new policy in Russia about having to go back in person to claim lost bags... !!!!!!

And oh, yeah... I'd LOVE some time off after a hellish fall and our non-vacation to the USA, and then this past week of kids who don't sleep at night and work... But I can't miss *any* time at work this winter... My seniors have a crucial standardized exam in March and it's crunch time to get them prepared.

You see, I learned at work on Monday that they had all FAILED the practice exam!!! Including my student who is a British citizen!

The reason? Not (necessarily) their English -- but rather b/c they, and I, didn't know all the tricks to the exam -- the test skills you'd learn in an SAT-review class. This particular exam, it turns out, is graded in a way unlike the one my seniors took last year -- and we have to work HARD to make up for lost time! Yikes!

Jojo, Julz, Jules said...

When I traveled to meet my child in Novosibirsk, British Airways lost my/dad's luggage. We were told it would be sent to Novo. Everyday we had our translator call, and we got the same story...
"It's on it's way."
It never arrived. When flying back home, we got to Moscow and were sent to the lost luggage room. There were surf boards, giant stuffed animals, rotten fruit boxes covered with flies, golf clubs, everything. (We were given the right to go into the room and search ourselves.) Found our luggage in two separate terminals...Just in time to go home..British Airlines lost us that flight!! A week in the same clothes wasn't pretty.

Carolynn and Steve said...

How Cow! What a mess!

I'm so sorry to hear about the loss of your class materials...I'll keep you in my prayers as you try to figure out what you can do to keep going in the meantime. If there's anything I can do to help, I'd be more than glad to do so!

Tina in CT said...

Trip from Hell for all of you! Hope Chris feels better soon and that you & the girls don't come down with it!

The Expatresse said...


I feel your pain.

Fingers crossed.

The Expatresse said...

This just in:

Tina in CT said...

Any update today on the lost carry-on?

garnet said...

Oh, I do hope it get returned to you. I know the stress. Several years ago we were due to fly back on British Airways the day they arrested a bunch of guys for a terrorist plot in London. Naturally our plane never arrived in the U.S. so we were rescheduled for several days later. Then, the night before they called to say that Heathrow was requiring them to cancel 30% of the flights and ours was one. We ended up being put on Virgin for the flight to England. Very interesting experience checking in with the Virgin and BA people arguing over us poor transfer passengers. Because we were passing through Heathrow and not stopping there we weren't allowed to take anything so we had to check 22 (!) pieces (though that included two car seats tied together). In those cases were three laptops, two 1000-dollar projectors, two computers, two ipods, and several hundred dollars worth of CDs and DVDS. Most of this we were going to hand-carry and we had to scramble to repack them. Oh, and I think a car stereo. (The projectors were added later when someone called from our school asking that "since we were still there couldn't we . . . ")

It was kind of nice traveling only with diapers, wipes, keys, and passports -- until we missed our flight due to a delay and were stuck in London with nothing (and neither airline wanted to be responsible for us -- finally BA stepped up and gave us a hotel room). When we got to Nairobi not a single one of those 22 pieces had arrived and it took, seriously, a month for the last ones to get their. My husband drove the hour out to the airport (and the other hour back) each night for a week and then finally switched to calling. BA said because we checked the stuff in on Virgin it was their responsibility and Virgin said since our final flight was BA it was theirs. We couldn't get *anyone* to help us out until finally the last week came for us to file for some compensation. My husband was pushing for that -- they didn't want to do it here in Nairobi -- and finally he was asked "Don't you want your bags back?" Well, of course, but that didn't seem to be happening. With only about a day to go, the woman said "Let me see what I can do" and within an hour or so she was calling with the "great news" that she had found the missing ones. Amazing how quickly they were found when someone actually looked for them. I'm just amazed we actually got everything and hope you get your things as well -- without waiting a month.

Oh, and while we were stuck in London they eased up and allowed one very small bag per person so we actually could have carried some hand luggage.

Anonymous said...

I'll tell you, if you want to loose your luggage in style, do it with Singapore Airline.
I was flying from Wisconsin to Singapore. It is a very long flight. Few minutes before we started our descend, I was called to the front of the cabin and was told that my luggage was left in ... (whatever airport I was passing through) and that it was located there and will be send at the next flight to arrive to my apartment day after tomorrow (it is a long flight). I was so shocked by efficiency and so grateful that after 24 hours of flying I did not have to spend another 2 hours at the airport in the false hopes to get my luggage - I was grateful and happy to get the bad news.
The problem became clear next morning. I was dressed very lightly for May weather in Wisconsin, which made me severely overdressed for Singapore (it is surprisingly close to equator). I must of looked pretty sad walking to the neighborhood store in my mephistos and turtleneck to get a sundress, bathing suit and flip-flops.
But still, it was the most civilized way my luggage was ever lost.

Annie said...

The lesson plan grabbed my heartstrings on that one. How disappointing!

Annie said...

I'm sorry, but I'm laughing.... I read your comment regarding the British citizen who failed the English test. He-he-he.. At least they let you SEE the thing.

Reminds me of the [hideous] experience I had when I took Lydia from Montessori school and placed her in the Catholic School. Her problem-solving techniques and intelligence tripped her up again and again as she struggled to get accustomed to.......worksheets! What amazed me is that despite my little hint to the teacher that she'd never in her life before DONE a worksheet (though she'd plenty of experience writing essays and research papers!) she would need a little heads-up about the rules and strategies. None, apparently, were given - but - boy! Those "F's" were flying fast and furious. Fortunately Lydia had never had grades either, so this was not a blip oh HER radar screen (though it got her mom rather hot and bothered).