- Emma Aldridge flew from Berlin, Germany, to Austin, Texas, on United and Lufthansa flights.
- On both the outbound and return flights, the airlines lost her luggage.
- Four days after returning home, she said she still isn’t sure where her luggage is.
Emma Aldridge kicked off a five-day business trip with the news that her luggage was lost.
Upon hearing the news, she told Insider that she felt “hopeless.”
When the airline lost it again on the return flight, she said it was “just too funny.”
“At that point, you just can’t believe it happened again,” Aldridge, who is the director of customer operations for a global software company, said.
Now, she’s back home in Berlin, Germany, and said she still isn’t sure where her luggage is.
In previous summers, Aldridge’s story might seem atypical. But as airlines around the world experience bad weather and staffing shortages, which result in flight delays, cancellations, and luggage mishaps, Aldridge’s story is beginning to feel common.
Aldridge said her bag was lost twice at the Frankfurt Airport
On July 19, Aldridge boarded a combination of Lufthansa and United Airlines flights to travel from Berlin to Austin, Texas. Her first Lufthansa flight took her from Berlin to Frankfurt, Germany, and from there, to Washington, DC, before landing in Austin.
When she landed in DC, she was supposed to grab her checked bag, go through customs, re-check her bag, and board her final flight to Austin.
But like many travelers right now, she landed in DC late. She rushed through customs but couldn’t find her bag. She said an airport employee told her it wasn’t there.
So Aldridge boarded her flight to Austin realizing there was a likely chance that she would meet her North American colleagues for the first time without any clothes, makeup, or other packed belongings, she said.
As feared, her bag didn’t make it to Austin. The next morning, Aldridge went to Target where she spent about $100 on clothes and makeup, she said. She later had to borrow more clothes and a bathing suit from coworkers, she said.
“It was an awkward first impression to make to people who report to you,” she said, adding that everyone understood her circumstances.
Aldridge said she learned through the Lufthansa app that her bag was lost back in Frankfurt. Over the next three days, Aldridge said she tracked her bag on the airline’s app and watched it go from Frankfurt to DC to Denver, Colorado, Houston, and Dallas, where it made its final transfer to Austin.
“By the time I got it, I only had another day and a half in Texas before I had to go back,” she said.
Aldridge joked that she couldn’t learn from her mistakes on her flight home since her suitcase was too large to carry on.
“I had to check it knowing that there was a chance it was going to get lost again,” she said
Aldridge’s gut feeling came true. When she landed back in Berlin, she was notified that her bag didn’t make it onto the flight due to her short layover in Frankfurt.
Aldridge said she’s struggling to get answers about her lost bag
Four days later, Aldridge said she is still not sure where her suitcase is.
Since both times she lost her bag were flying with Lufthansa through the Frankfurt Airport, Aldridge said she thinks Lufthansa is responsible.
“All system partners, including Lufthansa, are working under high pressure to ensure that passengers and their baggage take off and land on time,” a Lufthansa representative told Insider. “Due to the current staff shortages and because aircraft cannot wait indefinitely due to booked turnarounds, it may happen that baggage was not loaded in time and arrived late.”
A United Airlines representative told Insider in a statement, “We are dedicated to delivering bags to customers’ final destinations on time, and when we miss the mark we work hard to connect customers with their bags as quickly as possible.”
So far, Aldridge has relied solely on the Lufthansa app for updates. After reading social media stories about people spending hours on hold with Lufthansa only to never reach a representative or receive answers, Aldridge said she hasn’t called in an attempt to avoid wasting time.
“I manage a customer support team myself so that’s why I haven’t been getting angry with anyone there because I know the customer support folks at Lufthansa are probably having an awful time right now,” she said. “But I also have no idea how to move forward to find my stuff.”
Initially, when Aldridge heard her bag was at the Frankfurt airport, she remembers thinking “that’s not so bad. Frankfurt to Berlin is a route that’s super common. That’s a flight that happens 10 times a day, so it will just be on the next flights.”
Aldridge even received a message that her luggage was found and would be on a Frankfurt-to-Berlin flight later that day.
“We’ll update you once your baggage has arrived and is ready for collection/delivery,” the notification reads.
“And that’s the last thing I heard,” she said.
The app hasn’t updated her whether it made it on that later flight, if it’s still in Frankfurt, if it’s in Berlin, or if it’s still in transport, she said.
If a bag is lost for five or more days, Lufthansa asks passengers to report a list of the suitcase’s contents. Aldridge said she’s confused about whether or not her bag is considered lost since the airline officially marked it as found. Either way, she said she plans to file the report along with a claim for her Target expenses.
Looking back Aldridge said she’s “learned my lesson. I’m really going to try to never take check-in luggage ever again.”
Aldridge is one of the thousands struggling with flight mishaps this summer
Aldridge isn’t alone when it comes to flight fiascos. Across the world, travelers are sharing nightmare stories about spending the night in a cold airport on boxes, or getting locked out of airports, as one woman recently told Insider.
Other travelers have faced similar luggage challenges like Aldridge. Susie Mullen, for instance, told Insider that she was still missing her luggage 19 days after her British Airways flight from London Heathrow to Bastia Airport on the French island of Corsica.
Travel analyst Henry Harteveldt previously told Insider that bad weather and staffing issues are two key factors contributing to the travel chaos. He also said that he fears the chaos will only increase.
Reflecting on the ongoing challenges, Aldridge said she knows she could’ve been much more unlucky.
“It could be a lot worse,” she said. “I’ve heard so many many horror stories; it’s just ridiculous for it to happen twice on the same trip.”