Where is this exotic location? It happens to be Turk and Caicos (pictures via myturksandcaicos.com). Why am I showing you this lovely beach you ask? Well because our double stroller spent at least 2 days there last week. It looks lovely, wish I had been there with it! I had to look up on a map where Turks and Caicos was (and how to spell it).
I know that this is totally off subject but it has been one of those really frustrating days, so I have decided to tell the tale of our stroller and one of bureaucracies (yes you US Airways!) that is currently wasting my time and breaking my stuff. Our stroller has clearly been having more fun then we have!
Stroller in question in front of the Art Institute in Chicago
On our return flight from Chicago we gate checked our stroller (which means that they put a flimsy tag on it and you drop it off right before you get on the plane). The nice thing about this is that they should theoretically bring the stroller right back to you as soon as you get off the plane, so you can put heavy children and stuff back into it. We have gate checked our stroller quite a few times now and it has always been easy and convenient (plus you don’t have to pay for it as a “checked bag”). So as we were dropping it off before getting on the plane with several other strollers, I did not worry about it. However as soon as we landed and it wasn’t there (while all of the other strollers were) I knew that this was a PROBLEM. By this time, we were at about 10 hours of travel between driving, returning the rental car, taking bus from rental car to airport, checking in at the airport, checking bags, going through security with heavy stroller and 2 children, waiting for late plane, getting on plane and getting off plane. So we waited, and waited. Then Mr. S left the gateway because the flight attendant assured him that all of the gate checked items were back up. Then the person working the counter at the gate told us that he shouldn’t have done that. She escorted him back to the gateway, but then they both returned quickly thereafter since they needed to get the plane ready for its next trip to Boston. She assured us that it must have gone down to checked baggage and we should wait there. By this point my 2 little ones were barely holding on and getting hungry fast.
We headed down to baggage and picked up our 2 checked bags which of course were sitting there. No sign of the stroller! We each took a turn walking the area to check and see if it was there. Nope! And of course this means that we would have to go to the dreaded lost baggage desk. I have had lost baggage before and am familiar with the attitude of most of the employees there and cringe at the thought.
The first thing you are always told is that you should go and wait some more, it doesn’t matter how long you were already waiting, it is NEVER long enough. I go in and explain that our gate checked stroller is missing and she told me that I should NOT have gotten off the gateway and it was my fault. I explained that Mr. S. was kicked out of the gateway because they were preparing for another flight was not good enough! She finally relented and called the gate. Sure enough she spoke to the same woman we had talked to. She reported good news, the stroller is on its way down to baggage. Just keep checking ALL of the carosels. hmmm…. Hungry kids and closing food kiosk, quick feed them hotdogs. Of course the girl working the hotdog counter says that she is getting ready to close (in 15 minutes) so she isn’t sure she can sell me the hotdogs rolling on the machine. Finally she hands over the over priced hotdogs. Sam eats it gladly, Maisie eats the bun.
We are now at 11+ hours and just want to get home. We still have to take everything to the parking garage (without the stroller), Mr. S. has to work in the morning and it is getting late. After another half hour or so I go back into the Office of Lost Baggage. Again, they tell me to WAIT some more. I plead! I say look I’ve got 2 small kids, the stroller is clearly not here. Can someone please drop it off tomorrow?! They finally relent. I fill out the paperwork, which takes another 10 minutes.
We head with all of our stuff back to the car and head home. The next day I keep expecting to receive a call saying that the stroller is on its way to our house. No call! Try calling Philly lost baggage office. They don’t pick up (of course). Wait another day. Nothing! At this point I figure some airport worker is enjoying our nice expensive double stroller. Finally I receive a call from Arizona (where US Airways central lost baggage office is located). Sure enough it is still missing. They will keep me “informed”. hmmm….
Strangely I get a call Thanksgiving morning at 8 am. The stroller is still lost, they thought they would update me. So at this point I’ve got my formed filled out to claim it as lost (and by some miracle managed to find the receipt for the stroller). A few more days go by and I get a “blocked” call on my cell phone. I don’t normally answer those kinds of calls but for some reason I decide to pick up. There is woman with a strange accent and a bad connection. I almost hang up, but then she says something about a bike? or wheelchair?. I finally figure out that she works at the Turks and Caicos airport and they have my stroller (yes the one on a direct flight from Chicago to Philly). She somehow found my phone number (but not my address or name). After a lot of confusion she says that she will send it on a flight from their to Charlotte and Charlotte to Philadelphia and I should pick it up that night. Mr. S. is doubtful that it will be at the airport. I decide it is worth a shot, so after dinner we head over to the airport. Mr. S. goes and checks. No luck, but the ladies working at the Lost Baggage Office thought it was a pretty funny story.
Again I assume it is lost, floating from US Air flight to US Air flight, never to be seen again. But then, I receive another call from the Bahamas (slightly closer but still not in the country). This time it is a message, but Hope from the Bahamas is letting me know that they have my stroller and I should come and pick it up. Really? Are they going to fly me there? I try calling, but of course nobody answers (I am pretty convinced that no one at US Air ever picks up their phone, they only call you back at random times). So I leave a message with the Central Baggage Office giving them all of the pertinent info and asking them to follow up. This office is suppose to call you back within 2 hours. Of course they don’t! The next day (almost 24 hours later) I get a call from Central checking in to see if I ever got my stroller. WHAT! Why did I leave a long, detailed message for them the day before. I was annoyed! I called them back and of course got the dreaded voicemail again! I left the same message in a much meaner tone, asking them to do their job and try and get this figured out. Later that day I actually got a call back and sure enough they had talked to Hope in the Bahamas and they would be sending my stroller via Fed Ex to my house, I guess they no longer trusted their own services! They were going to get back to me with the Fed Ex number and delivery date (of course they didn’t).
This morning the doorbell rings and it is Fed Ex with my stroller! The stroller bag is wrapped in the flimsiest clear plastic bag I have ever seen with several holes in it. My stroller bag also has several holes in it. The stroller is amazingly mostly intact, but beat to hell with one of the plastic wheel protectors broken. Errrr…..
So I call Central again today, and of course get the dreaded voicemail. I let them know that it is here but damaged and I ask them what I need to do to claim the damage. That was several hours ago, still no call back. The saga continues….