Have You Seen this Suit?
So 24 hours later, Alan has heard nothing from Delta Airlines about his missing suit bag containing a brand new Hugo Boss suit, shirt and tie. I have percolated on the situation and my perspective has changed. I am now his advocate because I think Delta is accountable and here's why.
When Alan boarded the plane holding his suit bag, intending to place it in an overhead bin, he was greeted by a pleasant Delta flight attendant who asked if she could hang the bag for him in the closet. He was all too happy not to have to deal with it and said yes.Mind you, there was no name tag on it and I am sure this didn't even occur to him during this split second exchange. So make a note to always tag every piece you have with you in case of a situation just like this. Having said that, I don't know that a name tag would have changed anything on the front end of this disaster. The bag would likely still have been taken.
I believe Delta should have done one of two things when taking his bag. They should have given him a claim number like they do in a coat check or it should be hung by seat #. When the plane lands and before deplaning, the hanging items should be returned to their rightful owners so everyone can be certain they have the right bag. If a passenger then realizes they have the wrong bag, an announcement could be made on the plane and corrective actions could be taken while doors remain shut. This would literally take 2 minutes while ensuring no passenger is left empty handed.
The current procedure is that passengers grab their bag on their way out the door as they exit. There is no flight attendant manning this station or even asking passengers to check their nametag. Then passengers are off to the gate and if a mixup has occured, there's no recourse. It's already too late to do anything about it. When Alan glanced at his bag as he walked to the gate,he realized there were 3 hangers not 2 and unzipped to find someone else's clothing. He asked the gate to call baggage immediately in case someone had come to the same conclusion. Nobody had reported anything and so they headed to baggage. Nobody was available to help him as this wasn't considered a "baggage" error.
This situation is not considered a baggage problem so he has been given no support from baggage and once he stepped off of that flight, the situation is dead to that flight crew. There is no procedure on the books, to address this situation. So sad, so sorry. So what's a guy to do now? I am on a 43 minute hold now to enter a labyrinth of phone transfers and "sorry I can't help you"s.
I realize Alan did not have a name on his suit bag. I am also certain this would have happened, even if he did. The only difference being that someone might have called him to arrange a return. I am not sure what a stranger will do with Alan's clothing. I like to think human nature is good and I'm still holding out hope that we get a phone call. But I have come to the realization that Delta should have done a better job. Ultimately I hold them responsible for this loss. There is no reason that the same flight attendant who took his bag, shouldn't have returned it to him before he left the plane.
One of my clever friends proposed the idea that the other passenger involved in this switcheroo might be going to the same wedding. She suggested Alan be on the lookout for a large man wearing jeans and sneakers. I like it. Diane suggested he purchase a hot pink hanging bag for future travel. All worthy of further consideration. And my friend Lorraine who is always thinking, suggested that Delta email the passengers from the flight asking them to inspect their carry on items and return the bag. It is even possible that this other passenger hasn't made the discovery in which case that email could be a service to all parties. Delta will not do this for privacy reasons though they do not hesitate to email passengers to confirm flights. Interesting.
I am currently working with a competent Delta supervisor in Salt Lake who is in touch with JFK now. I remain calm and hopeful. And of course, felt obliged to pass along a few suggestions for amendments to current carry on storage policy. It takes a village. I hope Alan isn't left with his pants down. This has been a huge inconvenience but certainly not a life and death situation. If this is the worst life deals us, we'll take it. I would just like a video of Alan and his counterpart wearing their Hugo Boss suits to their respective affairs. Trying to keep it light. Thank you for your humor and empathy.