Nothing is more of a headache than lost, delayed, or stolen baggage, but what adds to this is poor customer service during such an incident. Recently when flying China Southern from LAX-MNL via CAN, China Southern temporary lost my luggage. Thankfully, my backpack with all my essential items arrived, however my large box full of gifts for my in-laws in the Philippines was lost somewhere between Los Angeles and the Philippines. Having delayed luggage before, I initially was not concerned, but then what happened at the Manila Airport is what concerns me.
Upon arriving, after clearing immigration, I went to baggage claim and waited for my luggage. Like all flights into the Philippines, priority luggage NEVER comes off first (or at least not in my experience). After a 45 minute wait, I realized all baggage had been offloaded from the plane and my box was missing. I found a non-apologetic agent and in the midst of the all-around chaotic Manila airport, and I started to fill out the lost luggage form. There were two agents filling out the forms and about 15 people waiting. As you can imagine this caused quite the scene, as angry travelers had to cue and wait for the extremely slow staff to fill out each form for each passenger.
When it was finally my turn to fill out the lost luggage form, the staff was very nonchalant about the ordeal. No real apologizes, not status of the bag, nothing. Multiple times I asked where my bag was, and they just responded with their elongated Filipino accent, “Sorry sir, we do not know, maybe bag is lost, maybe come in 1-2 weeks! 10% chance never.”
Clearly this upset me because having my bag delayed before (on Air France), I know that the airline can track the bag based on the baggage claim slip number, however at the Manila Airport, the staff refused to do this, leaving everyone in the dark about the true status of their personal items. I finished the paperwork, filled out the custom declaration of what was in the box, and left the airport to meet my family without the large box of gifts.
Over the next few days as the situation played out, it only got worse. I had a flight leaving the Philippines to travel around SE Asia and the box had still not arrived. After calling the office at the Manila Airport multiple times and getting no answers, I called China Southern USA baggage claim service several times over 3 days and they couldn’t track my bag by my luggage tag information. They were very friendly and apologetic, but for whatever reason my baggage number didn’t match anything in their system. They couldn’t even pull up my reservation by the confirmation number to find the baggage tag numbers. Then to add fuel to the fire, they told me the report I had filed in person in Manila had not been registered into their central system and I needed to return to the airport to fill out a lost luggage form! I explained to them each time that I was holding the lost luggage form in my hand (my copy), but they couldn’t do anything with the number on the form or over the phone to file the report. They were friendly but not helpful.
By now it had been 2 days and I still had no status on my bag, I was running out of options and fed up with the lack of professionalism from the CZ staff in Manila. Each phone call to the office resulted in me being told the same thing. “No box today, maybe tomorrow, maybe never”. I decided to reach out to my media contact at the CZ LA Office, hoping she might be able to answer the question of the week: where is my box?
I just talked to Airlines Baggage Services and provided with them with all the information. According to Airlines’ record, you hadn’t claimed “lost luggage” at MNL Airport and that’s why they were not able to contact you. They suggested that you file a lost baggage claim ASAP as it is required by the Airlines.
Good news is that I was informed that the box will be arriving at MNL Airport December 18. Please contact this number for more information: 1-866-767-2247 #8.
Please let me know if you need further assistance. I hope your box will be in MNL safely.
Finally I had an answer! Yet still, they were claiming I hadn’t claimed my lost luggage! Honestly, I wanted to scream for I had done this and had called the lost luggage counter at the Manila Airport multiple times since arriving in the Philippines! Oh well, at least I had an update.
Long story short, my box arrived late, but all in one piece. The Manila airport staff refused to deliver the bag to my family’s house when I was out of the country (despite me signing a release for it and them telling me that they would) and my family ended up having to drive over an hour to the airport to collect the bag. I find this to be unacceptable, but then everything that happened with the staff at the Manila Airport was unprofessional and poor business etiquette. The fact that I had to get a manager from the LA office to investigate my box’s whereabouts and the Manila staff never properly filed the lost luggage report is beyond me! But then again, I guess this is just the way China Southern does business in the Philippines and I would highly recommend you not check baggage if flying CZ to the Philippines. However, at the same time, I also would like to say that as frustrating as all this is, CZ does not actually handle the baggage in Manila and instead is contracted out to PAGSS, a 3rd party. So really, CZ needs to review with their contracted company so properly procedures are followed to ensure this does not happen to anyone else.
Now tips for you if you baggage is lost or delayed.
Most credit cards have lost or delayed baggage insurance that will provide you with emergency coverage for essentials and replace the cost of the items if permanently lost. The two cards I use most are my Amex and my Chas Sapphire. Thankfully they both have lost luggage protection
The American Express Platinum card:
You can get a combined maximum of $3,000 for lost, stolen or damaged carry-on and checked baggage. Of that combined maximum, the maximum benefit for checked baggage is up to $2,000 in excess of common Carrier’s Coverage.
Amex coverage is for checked or carry-on bags on plane, train, ship, helicopter, or buses. If you purchased your ticket (even award ticket taxes) on your Amex call 1-800-645-9700 to start the claim process.
Chase Sapphire Card:
Delayed and lost luggage insurance. If you have any checked bags that have been delayed for more than 18 hours, you will be reimbursed for the emergency purchase of covered essential items. If your checked or carry-on luggage has been lost or stolen, you will receive a full reimbursement.
This benefit is not offered directly by Chase but is outsourced to Chubb.Com
If you aren’t using one of these two cards for traveling, I advise you to check with your credit card company to ensure you have these benefits before making traveling plans and/or checking your luggage.
Finally, a quick tip to travelers, always take a picture of the contents of your box or luggage, especially if there are items of value within the suitcase. It is easier to be reimbursed for lost items if they are documented and you have proof of what was really in your suitcase.
Thankfully, I did not have to use any of these services because my box was found within a week’s time. Despite this, having these benefits is always something you should be aware of it the situation arises.