American Airlines Told Passenger to Get Bag From Airport 4K Miles Away

  • A stranger texted Jamie O’Grady saying he’d found his luggage in baggage reclaim at London Heathrow.
  • American Airlines told O’Grady to collect the bag from the airport, but he was back in the US.
  • O’Grady had been on a trip to Portugal from his home in North Carolina.

The day after he got home from a trip to Europe, Jamie O’Grady, a native of North Carolina, got a text from a stranger saying he’d just found his missing luggage lying in the baggage-reclaim area at London Heathrow.

Speaking to Insider, O’Grady said he told American Airlines about the text, only for the airline to ask him to collect the bag himself, despite being 4,000 miles away.

O’Grady flew from Faro, Portugal, on July 9 and arrived in Raleigh, North Carolina, the next day following a layover at Heathrow. He’d booked the flights through American Airlines, but the first leg of the flight appears to have been operated as a codeshare with Finnair.

O’Grady dropped off two bags when he checked in at Faro – one with his general luggage and the other with his golf clubs.

He told Insider that he waited an hour at the luggage carousel at Raleigh-Durham International Airport for his bags, but they never showed up. Staff at the American Airlines desk then told O’Grady that his bags di lui had never actually been scanned and they were unsure where the bags were.

Earlier in his trip, as he walked around Heathrow, O’Grady said he’d been “floored” by how much baggage was left unclaimed at the airport and feared he’d face the same fate.

“I was just completely floored by how much luggage was in that baggage-claim area. I thought to myself: ‘I’m not super confident that my bags will even be transferred behind the scenes for tomorrow’s flight.’

“And lo and behold, when I got back, they did not make it here,” he said.

O’Grady said that he was on a flight with around 30 of his colleagues, none of whom lost their bags. But O’Grady lost both of his of him.

The morning after he returned to the US, he got a text from a stranger saying that he’d stumbled across his golf bag at the baggage-reclaim area in Heathrow. The passenger had reached out after noticing that O’Grady had the same area code as him.

“My bag never should have been on those carousels,” O’Grady told Insider. “It should have remained behind the scenes and transferred.”

O’Grady sent screenshots of the conversation to American Airlines’ customer services and told the company that his bag was evidently still at Heathrow.

“We suggest that you head down to the airport to have this sorted out ASAP,” the airline replied in screenshots that O’Grady shared on Twitter. Heathrow is around 4,000 miles away from Raleigh.

According to a report by the US Department of Transport, in April, flights American Airlines or its branded codeshare partners operated mishandled roughly one of every 140 bags.

This is higher than the proportion of bags Southwest, Delta, and United mishandled, and is considerably higher than the proportion of bags American Airlines mishandled in April 2021.

O’Grady told Insider that American Airlines flew one bag into Raleigh two days after he got in. He picked up the bag from the airport himself, telling Insider that he “didn’t trust” the airline to deliver his bag di lui to his address di lui.

O’Grady didn’t get his golf bag back until late on July 15, he said – almost a week after he had departed from Faro. The whole experience was “frustrating,” he said.

“American strives to return delayed luggage to customers within 24 hours,” a spokesperson for the airline told Insider. “Unfortunately, weather and operational issues may slow down the process in some instances. Our team has been in contact with the affected customer and has made every effort to quickly resolve their claims.”

“We understand it can be frustrating when travel doesn’t go as planned, and we apologize to our customer whose plans have been impacted by delayed baggage,” the spokesperson added.

Passengers have faced mounting travel chaos as a combination of understaffing and soaring demand for travel mean that airlines and airports are delaying and canceling thousands of flights, losing luggage, and facing huge lines for check-in and security processes.

O’Grady said that during his layover at Heathrow, he exited the airport, and it took him roughly two and a half hours to get through security upon his reentry.

“I’ve traveled all around the world,” he said. “I’ve never seen anything like this.”

Have you been affected by current travel disruptions? Or do you work at an airport or for an airline that’s swamped by staffing and cancellation chaos? Email this reporter at gdean@insider.com.

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