It is usually frustrating and inconvenient to lose your bag during your trip abroad and even worse when you lose it on transit.
Addis Ababa, Ethiopia
My problems started with the Ethiopian airline’s check in desk at Jomo Kenyata airport in Nairobi, Kenya. The agent demanded I pay for 37 kilograms of excess luggage, the same luggage that BA from London to Nairobi did not charge me a penny rather I was allowed four bags of at least thirty kg for my journey.
I did attempt to contest this but the agent advised that I speak to a senior member of Ethiopia airlines who wasted my time by answering every call on her personal mobile while I risked missing my flight due to her longer than necessary processes of making and answering calls. It took more than an hour to decide wether I have extra allowance and in the end I had to pay two hundred ninety-six dollar that 37 kg X $8= $296.
To make matters worse with most of my time wasted with this agent, I demanded a receipt and rather than being given the receipt by the same agent, she told me I need to go the next door office, where her supervisor was serving other customers. I went to where I was sent to collect the receipt, but upon telling the supervisor that I came for my excess luggage payment receipt, he checked through a pile of receipts those were printed in the form of tickets and said yours is still coming.
To my further amazement, I was fortunate enough that a lady customer whom he was serving, spotted the surname Aden which I told him earlier to search for and she was right it was right in front of him but only that he did not look at it attentively and seemed just like the other agent who seemed completely distracted.
I was left London on 11th January for three days stay in Nairobi, two nights in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia and final destination to Johannesburg, South Africa before my return on 11th February to London.
My luggage contained three bags, two of which I intended to leave in Addis Ababa, as they contained gifts for family and friend’s family in Ethiopia. But to my further astonishment, the three bags were transferred to my final destination Johannesburg. I noticed this upon arrival at Bole airport in Addis.
I waited at the baggage reclaim lounge for almost two hours when I finally thought they may have possibly sent it to my final destination J’Burg, I went to ask an airport staff who said that I should wait a little bit more as there may be ‘more luggage on the way’. But this was based on his personal imagination so I decided to approach an Ethiopian airline staff member who was sifting through a pile of bags possibly unclaimed or may have been sorted to be delivered to other destinations. This agent confirmed my suspicion after checking the luggage stickers on my passport. He added that I may have to wait at least one hour and half to get my luggage which he said is still in Bole airport being prepared to be flown to South Africa.
This could not have happened if the first agent was attentive and asked me where I wanted my bags to be. The bags were dispatched as I was away paying for the excess baggage, where the lady attending me confirmed if my bags are going to Addis Ababa. The first agent based her decision on pure personal assumption by sending the bags to Johannesburg without properly finding out from me.
After six hours of waiting At Bole airport, I was told two of my bags were found and the third could not be located. That is when they told me I should come back in the morning two hours before the next day J’Burg flight. As the flight time was 9:00am local time, I came back to the airport by 7:00am to go through the same process of waiting for hours.
Unfortunately, the Ethiopian airline staff member on duty in the morning was unfriendly. When I told him the missing bag should not go to Johannesburg and be retrieved as soon as possible, his reaction was why didn’t you tell us this before, only that he didn’t know the inconvenience and the sleeplessness caused by his colleagues on night duty. He made only one call and asked those sorting the luggage to search for my bag. After every 30 minutes, I asked for any update and his answer was always the same ‘you have to wait’.
The next midnight, I am again in the Ethiopian airline’s baggage office still waiting for information about the location of my bag. I am given conflicting information that only prolongs my wait. Being despair of my bag to be ever found I had to leave their office because I should be in the airport again for my J’burg flight by six o’clock in the next morning and had only few hours to sleep. A Temporary property irregularity report letter given to me the first night was not even properly filled.
I arrived at the airport and the airplane for my flight was to leave at 8:50 am. I asked again the check in counter to tell me if there was any information about my bag. But, the ET agent attending the counter said “probably it is in Johannesburg.” and she was not sure.
I left Addis Ababa without any assurance that my bag is definitely at J’Burg. As I arrived at O.R. Tambo International Airport (ORTIA) in Johannesburg, I checked again the baggage reclaim zone, my missing bag was nowhere to be seen.
However, there was some good news at last. A young lady at ET baggage reclaim counter in the arrivals sections said she could not locate the bag in the system but fortunately she remembered seen my surname somewhere. After a few seconds her mind located where she saw the bag and handed me a note with the name Menzes Baggage Services which she pointed where it is located, that was just outside the arrivals zone of the airport.
I went there and She was proved right as I recognized my bag lying in a pile of other unclaimed bags with Menzes Baggage Services store at the airport. I told them the bag needs to go back to Addis Ababa and they told me we have a message that It should be returned to Addis Ababa. It was an instruction I gave while still in Addis Ababa when I told them the bag was not supposed to be in Johannesburg as it contained gifts to my family, but I was not given any assurance.
I did tell them to return the bag to Addis Ababa and told my family there to collect the bag from the airport the next day. When they went to collect it, they were told the bag is back in Addis Ababa but that they needed to contact me and that I send an email to that particular agent, which I did. But he told me after 1 hour that he did not receive my email.
For a week I was being asked to send and resend email detailing who I wanted to collect the bag but I finally despaired and decided to stop contacting them because there was no point in making calls and sending emails when at the end it is claimed it is not received and the emails were correct, I am sure my emails should have been received unless there is a long process of checking emails before they are released into inbox-es.
After ten days when I called my family and asked if they received the bag, I was told the bag has only been received yesterday.
After that long story of unnecessary and preventable inconvenience my bag was in the hands of my family. It was nearly lost but was surely unnecessarily misplaced.