The next day we docked, got off the boat with relative ease, and made our way to Miami airport, where I was reunited with my luggage. This seems as good a time as any to tell the entire saga. So, we flew in on Sunday night. I had made a connection in Los Angeles, because it was cheaper, because it enabled me to leave at 9:30 AM instead of 7:00 AM, and I flew on LAX to Miami leg with luvmoose. Apparently the luggage didn't make the connection, because it wasn't on my flight. The next flight from LA was coming in only an hour or so later, so we decided to wait and see if my bag was on that plane. We waited and waited, along with about half a dozen other people. The airline employee kept saying to wait, that there were still more bags coming, only to inform us after an hour that those bags had all been waiting to transfer to other flights and there were no more bags coming after all. So, no luck. It seems that there had been a flight between LA and Miami cancelled a day or so before, and the airline (American) was still trying to catch up. The line for the baggage service desk was huge. I got in it, but at the same time I whipped out my cellphone, and long before I would have reached the counter I had talked to an agent and opened a trace on my bag. I informed them that I had to be on a boat the next day at 12 noon. No problem, they said, there were two red-eyes from LAX tomorrow, landing at 5 AM and 6:30 AM respectively, and chances were that my bag would be on one of them. They couldn't say anything for sure, though, because *American doesn't scan the bags as they go on the plane*. So no one could tell me with any certainty where my bag was. It could've been in LA, it could've still been in San Francisco, it could have ended up on any other flight going anywhere. Insane. Anyway, they promised that, if my bag showed up, they would ship it to my hotel in Ft. Lauderdale if it were early enough, otherwise they would take it to the cruise ship terminal. We went to our hotel (it was 1 AM by the time we finally got there) and crashed, after a quick pitstop at CVS to get me some basic toiletries: contact lens solution, toothbrush, etc., since thanks to the no-liquids rule ALL of these things were in my checked bag. Including my glasses. Which normally I never do, but my glasses travel in my toiletry bag. So I just threw the whole thing in my luggage. Yeah, not doing that again.
Anyway, the alarm rang at 5:30 AM on Monday, and I called the airline. No news, but it's too early for them to know for sure about the first flight and the second flight hasn't landed yet. So we sacked out for another hour or so and then just drove to the airport -- the people on the phone don't seem to really know that much about what's going on, and we'd rather be able to search through the bags ourselves. By the time we got there, both flights had landed and all the baggage has been claimed or left out. My bag's not there. So I got back in the baggage service line (which is shorter by now, but I was still in it for half an hour) while luvmoose searched the unclaimed bag room without luck. Finally I got to the lady at the counter, who checks on my trace request. She can tell me that the bag isn't in San Francisco (or at least they can't find it there), but there's been "no answer" from Los Angeles. The next flight didn't get in until 3pm, too late to catch my cruise. The airline representative offered to have the bag meet me at Turks & Caicos, but by this time I was basically through with trusting them, so I said no, hold the bag in Miami instead and I'll pick it up Friday. She agreed, and then told me to hold onto all my receipts, that the airline would reimburse me for the basics that I needed to get through the next week, and that I should call the 800 number for authorization.
By now it's getting late and we needed to get to the port, especially if we wanted time to go shopping first. So we left in the rental car (and I am SO GLAD we rented a car, imagine trying to deal with all this in taxis) and I got on the phone. The first guy I talked to first said that American wouldn't pay for anything, and then offered me $75. For five days worth of clothes and toiletries. "We can get your bag to Turks & Caicos by tomorrow, but you turned that down, so we don't owe you anything." Furious, I demand to speak to a supervisor. She at least understands my position that the earliest *I* will be on Turks & Caicos is Wednesday, since Tuesday is a day at sea. But she held fast on the $75. She assured me that they could have the bag to me Wednesday -- American flies to Grand Turk, "we do this all the time", etc., so I accepted the offer and hung up. We went to Target and Marshall's, got some shirts, some shorts, a bathing suit, and a bag to put it all in (between those and the replacement toiletries I spent about $175 -- I got five days worth, since at this point I really didn't trust them and didn't want to be stuck wearing only clothes that could be purchased aboard ship for two days), and then we headed for the cruise ship. Once aboard, I dropped by the purser's office and filled out a lost luggage form -- not that they lost the luggage, but Carnival told me that this was the easiest way for them to work with American. I went about the business of having fun, and then Tuesday night I got a call from the purser -- they had finally, after a day of trying to get in contact, reached American. "The bag's in Miami but they won't be shipping it to Grand Turk; you can pick it up when you get back." So much for "we do this all the time", but at least I knew where my bag was, and I was able to let it go for the next few days.
So, Friday in Miami. I started at the baggage service desk -- no line, they must have straightened things out -- and the agent tells me to pick up my luggage in the unclaimed bag room. I had been advised to turn in my receipts at this time, but I told the agent about the $75 issue, and she agreed with me that I was owed more. "Call the 800 number, they can authorize more." I got the bag, we went to our Miami hotel, the guy at the desk took pity on us and let us check in 3 hours early, and I called American. "Sorry," they said, "your trace was closed when you picked up the bag, we can't do anything for you, take it up with Customer Relations, no, they don't have a phone number, you have to do it all online." And that was it. No matter how many managers I was kicked up, no matter how many times I told them that THEIR OWN AGENT had told me to call this number for the authorization, I got the same story. I sent the angry email but frankly I haven't much hope for any more money. But I suppose we'll see. If they try to tell me that it's too late for even that reimbursement some heads will roll.
Thus ends the luggage saga. Friday night, luvmoose, i_iambe and I all went to see Jon Stewart perform, and he was fabulous. Much angrier and more opinionated than he is on the show. And very, very funny. I laughed until I cried. Saturday was "kick back in Miami" day. We had thought of going to the Keys, but they were too far, so we visited an alligator farm in the Everglades, took a swamp boat ride, and then checked out other tourist attractions -- an orchid farm and the Coral Castle, which is better seen than described and I will post pictures soon. My flight home was uneventful and now I am back home with my husband and my kitties and what may be the start of the flu -- my legs ache and I'm coughing from my chest. I hope not, hopefully I will just crash early and all will be well.
So I was going to put up a bunch of pictures but thanks to American's baggage "service" this post is already ridiculously long and so I'll save the pics for later tonight. A few from the cruise, more from yesterday's adventures.
For all my complaining above, it was a really great trip, and I'm so glad I went. Lots of excellent music, and it was fun as always to hang out with luvmoose and her friends. BNL announced on Thursday that they're doing another cruise next year, and though my work schedule and finances may not allow it, I'll go if I can.