How Air New Zealand messed up my Christmas 2009 trip

I started on my trip Down Under with high hopes and in good spirits. My stop in San Francisco was wonderful; I love that town. So much to see and do… and the food! YUM! What a great start to my trip (the only ‘bad’ spot being the man in the next hotel room who liked to be called “the King” during sex… I kid you not!).

Unfortunately, Air New Zealand decided that my bags needed to stay in San Francisco even though I had left. I arrived in Sydney, after a long 13 hour flight to Auckland, an hour rest and then a 3 hour bump over to Australia, to discover that my bags had been left in the US. Actually, that was discovered about 6 hours after my arrival – until then no one knew where they were.

The first day I was more concerned about getting clean clothes, but as days pass that quickly fades when you have trucked around the world to spend Christmas with your nephew – his first Christmas – and with your somewhat estranged side of the family, and have arrived empty-handed. Literally. Definitely not the way to make a good impression.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported, while I was in Australia, that several thousand travellers had had their bags go missing, and I also heard from several Aussies that both Qantas and Air NZ have a ‘propensity’ for losing bags around the holidays. I am not sure if there was any truth in the rumour that one Qantas flight from London Heathrow has arrived filled with travellers, but sans all luggage, but I can certainly believe it.

It took almost four days for my bags to show up. After Christmas. After having to sit there like a beggar at the table, feeling like crap whenever anyone handed me a present to open, knowing that the best part of Christmas is the giving of gifts – and I had nothing to give (yet).

Four days. A day and a half of which they had sat in Auckland waiting for someone to notice that they belonged in Australia not New Zealand. During that time I had called Baggage Services about six times, sitting on hold for on average an hour each time. Air New Zealand graciously compensated me $100AUD for my troubles… but I had to come to them and get it.

They failed to compensate me for having to replace one suitcase – when my bags did finally show up one of them wouldn’t roll properly. I opened up the back to see why the handle wouldn’t work and discover that the entire infrastructure was bent inward in a reverse V. I am afraid to think of how it was thrown in order to have created such a deep bend.

I said ‘ruined’ didn’t I? Well, perhaps not entirely, I did get to spend time with my family and to play with my nephew, but the first few days of my trip were marred by a preoccupation with the bags. Christmas Day was unenjoyable because I was unable to give the presents I had spend months selecting. By the time they did show up it was very anticlimatic, and I still felt like the beggar child. So no, not entirely ruined.