- Emma Aldridge flew from Berlin, Germany, to Austin, Texas, on United and Lufthansa flights.
- On both round trips, airlines lost their luggage.
- Four days after she got home, she said she was still not sure where her luggage was.
Emma Aldridge started a five-day business trip with news that her luggage had been lost.
Upon hearing the news, she told Insider she felt “desperate.”
When the airline lost her again on the return flight, she said it was “so funny”.
“At that point, you just can’t believe it’s happening again,” said Aldridge, director of customer operations at a global software company.
Now, back home in Berlin, Germany, she says she’s still not sure where her luggage is.
Last summer, Aldridge’s story might seem atypical. But with airlines around the world experiencing bad weather and staff shortages, leading to flight delays, cancellations, and baggage accidents, Aldridge’s story is starting to feel commonplace.
Aldridge said her bag got lost twice at Frankfurt Airport
On July 19, Aldridge boarded a group of Lufthansa and United Airlines flights to fly from Berlin to Austin, Texas. Her first Lufthansa flight took her from Berlin to Frankfurt, Germany and from there to Washington, D.C. before landing in Austin.
When she landed in DC, she was supposed to take her checked bag, go through customs, recheck her bag, and take her last flight to Austin.
But like many travelers now, I landed in the capital late. She rushed through customs but couldn’t find her bag. She said an airport employee told her he wasn’t there.
So Aldridge boarded her flight to Austin knowing there was a potential chance she’d meet fellow North Americans for the first time without any clothes, makeup, or other belongings packed, she said.
As he feared, her bag never reached Austin. The next morning, Aldridge went to Target, where she spent about $100 on clothes and makeup, she said. She said that she later had to borrow more clothes and swimwear from her co-workers.
“It was an embarrassing first impression for people reporting to you,” she said, adding that everyone understands her circumstances.
Aldridge said she learned through the Lufthansa app that her bag got lost in Frankfurt. Over the next three days, Aldridge said she tracked her bag on the airline’s app and watched it travel from Frankfurt to the capital to Denver, Colorado, Houston and Dallas, where she made her final transfer to Austin.
“By the time I got it, I only had another day and a half in Texas before I got back,” she said.
Aldridge joked that she couldn’t learn from her mistakes on the trip home because her suitcase was too big to carry.
“I had to check it out knowing there was an opportunity to get lost again,” she said.
Check Aldridge’s gut feeling. When she returned to Berlin, she was notified that her bag had not arrived on the plane due to her short layover in Frankfurt.
Aldridge said she struggles to get answers about her missing bag
Four days later, Aldridge said she was still not sure where her bag was.
Since both times she lost her bag while flying with Lufthansa through Frankfurt Airport, Aldridge said she believed Lufthansa was to blame.
“All system partners, including Lufthansa, are working under high pressure to ensure passengers and their baggage take off and land on time,” a Lufthansa representative told Insider. “Due to the current staff shortage and because aircraft cannot wait indefinitely due to booked shifts, it may happen that baggage is not loaded in time and its arrival is delayed.”
“We are committed to delivering bags to customers’ final destinations on time, and when we lose the tag, we work hard to get customers hooked up to their bags as quickly as possible,” a United Airlines representative told Insider in a statement.
So far, Aldridge has only relied on the Lufthansa app for updates. After reading social media stories about people spending hours waiting with Lufthansa only to not reach a representative or receive answers, Aldridge said she did not call in an effort to avoid wasting time.
“I run the customer support team myself, which is why I’m not mad at anyone there because I know Lufthansa customer support staff are probably having a bad time at the moment,” she said. “But I also have no idea how to go about finding my things.”
At first, when Aldridge heard that her bag was at Frankfurt Airport, she remembered that she was thinking, “That’s not so bad. Frankfurt to Berlin is a very popular route. This is a flight that happens 10 times a day, so it’s going to be the next day. Flying.”
Aldridge even received a message that her luggage had been found and would be on a flight from Frankfurt to Berlin later that day.
The notice reads, “We will update you as soon as your baggage is available and ready for pickup/delivery.”
“And that’s the last thing I heard,” she said.
She said the app did not tell her if he was successful on that subsequent flight, if he was still in Frankfurt, if he was in Berlin, or if he was still in transit.
If the bag is lost for five days or more, Lufthansa requires passengers to report a list of the contents of the bag. Aldridge said she was confused about whether or not her bag was considered lost because the airline officially marked it as found. Either way, she said she plans to file the report with a claim for targeted expenditures.
Looking back, Aldridge said, “I learned my lesson. I’ll really try to never take my check-in baggage again.”
Aldridge is one of thousands of people suffering from aviation accidents this summer
Aldridge is not alone when it comes to flights. All over the world, travelers are sharing harrowing stories about spending the night in a cold airport on crates, or being denied entry to airports, one woman recently told Insider.
Other travelers have faced similar baggage challenges as Aldridge. Susie Mullen, for example, told Insider that she still lost her luggage 19 days after the British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Bastia Airport on the French island of Corsica.
Travel analyst Henry Hartfeldt previously told Insider that bad weather and employment issues are major factors contributing to the travel chaos. He also said he feared the chaos could worsen.
Reflecting on the ongoing challenges, Aldridge said she knew it could have been much worse.
“It could be much worse,” she said. “I’ve heard so many horror stories; it’s ridiculous to happen twice in the same flight.”