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(moved and edited) Lost baggage, Alaska


Mission, TX
One great thing about flying your own aircraft is that you don't loose your hunting rifles, baggage or game meat and not even a spouse although some might like to upon occasion. This goes for the gals just as it does for the men. On a commercial flight, just about anything can happen. Some examples:

On a nonstop flight from Kenai to Anchorage with a Twin Otter, there were 5 large suitcases missing that belonged to a family headed to Hawai'i on vacation. I checked with the crew at Kenai and they remembered loading them but they never got to the baggage claim area in Anchorage. I found them in Athens, Greece of all places and here is how it happened.

I was able to determine there was a different party on the same flight that was transferring to the International Terminal at Anchorage for a connecting flight to Athens. It seems their connecting airline had sent over a baggage transfer crew to pick up the baggage at our aircraft on the ramp for those passengers and in error, they also took the baggage that was for the other passengers.

Communications between people in commercial airlines was quite easy world wide at that time. The codes used actually went to a certain computer terminal, not an individual, and they were the same for all airlines except for the airline two letter code. Examples: kk stands for supervisor, KK for manager, rr stands for reservations, LLKK stands for lost luggage manager, tt for ticketing mk for maintenance supervisor, etc. As I recall, my designator at one time was VPOO plus airline two digit airline code (Vice President operations). This system was started in the late 60s.

In the situation above, I sent a computer message to the station manager of the airline I believed had flown the baggage to Athens, Greece and asked him to contact customs to see if they were holding the bags. They were there of course and he had them put on their next flight back addressed to me. Customs in Athens sent along a statement the bags had not been open so there was no problem getting them back to Alaska. I got them back the next day but it sure screwed up a family's trip to Hawaii for two days. Since I was not Donald Trump, no one got fired though.

On another flight from Kodiak/Homer/Kenai/Anchorage, a passenger reported a plastic bag containing sleeping bags and misc camping gear missing at his destination Kenai. A thorough check of all stations did not find the bag. At about that point, our station manager at Kenai sent me a message that a passenger had overheard another passenger joking about throwing the wrong bag away when they broke camp on Kodiak Island. Instead of getting rid of the trash, he had thrown away the sleeping bags. He turned in a claim for several hundred dollars for the loss. Guess what? Gotcha.
A report like that is a federal offense.

Missing bag, claim filed.

At another point, a passenger came up with a missing suitcase and filed a claim. When filing a claim, the passenger must submit a list of everything in the bag. This passenger called several times and from the way the person was demanding this and that, I became suspicious. In most situations, I found that those that voiced complaints in a certain way are usually not telling all the truth.

Now back to the missing bag. It was found and I had it brought to my office and than called the passenger to come and pick it up. He wanted it delivered but I told him because of the claim, he had to identify the bag in front of me. Finally he showed up. I asked him to look it over and to check the locks to see if they had been tampered with. Everything OK he said. The owner of the airline was sitting in my office at the time listening to all of this trying to keep from laughing.

Finally, I asked him to open up his bag to make sure nothing was missing from the list he had provided to me. All of a sudden that was not necessary and that he would just take the bag and leave. "Not posable Sir. Please open it up" once I knew I had him. Finally, he brought out his key and opened the bag up.
It was full of clothes and personal items but no very expensive cameras, electronic equipment and other expensive items. Claim filed was over $1000 but actual value might have been $100.

I already had a copy of the federal regulations printed out for him which I had him read while sitting there. Talk about a red face. The airline owner was really getting a kick out of everything. He, his wife and daughter bought me dinner that night.

I didn't file charges but I bet that person or his friends will never try to scam another airline in their life.

I always held unclaimed baggage for 90 days and if not claimed, I would auction them off with proceeds going to some charity and that would rotate every month. Unbelievable what passengers will carry in a suitcase.