Lost UK-US American Airlines Bags End Up In Hamburg

  • American Airlines Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner From Above

    American Airlines

    IATA / ICAO Code:
    AA / AAL

    Airline Type:
    Full Service Carrier

    Hub (s):
    Charlotte Douglas International Airport, Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport, Miami International Airport, New York JFK Airport, LaGuardia Airport, Philadelphia International Airport, Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport

    Year Founded:


    Robert Isom

    United States

The never-ending chaos within the aviation industry has proved confusing for passengers, as they get rebooked on a much later flight after the original gets canceled or delayed. Then comes the frustration when they realize airlines have mishandled their baggage, and it takes weeks or even months to find it.

When the two scenarios get mixed together, it becomes quite the mystery, as proven by an American Airlines passenger who had her baggage lost, only to be found by a stranger in Hamburg. The mystery settled in as the passenger had never visited Germany, and American Airlines doesn’t even fly to Hamburg but does share codeshare flights with British Airways.


A mysterious chain of events

Michelle and Christopher May were initially scheduled to fly from Edinburgh to London on July 2nd, with connecting flights onward to New York and Charlotte. British Airways was supposed to operate the first two flights, and American Airlines would operate the third. The day before departure, the couple’s travel agency notified them that British Airways was canceling their flight from London to New York.

While the cancelation was unfortunate, the couple were fortunately rebooked on a direct flight from London to Charlotte via American Airlines scheduled for the following day. On the rescheduled day of departure, four bags were checked in at the American Airlines priority desk for the couple’s Business Class flight to Charlotte during check-in.

American Airlines operates two direct flights from London to Charlotte, a morning flight with AA731 and a noon flight with AA733. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

However, when they arrived in Charlotte and proceeded to collect their baggage, one of Michelle’s was missing. After filing a missing-bag claim and contacting American Airlines multiple times, they were repeatedly referred back to the airline’s bag tracker website, which showed no updates on the location of Michelle’s baggage.

Quite an expensive misplacement

According to the Mays, the missing baggage was worth nearly $ 1,900, with expensive contents including an $ 84 bottle of whiskey from Scotland, around $ 170 worth of make-up, and hair straighteners estimated at $ 200. The baggage itself was estimated to be almost $ 660. Michelle had tried to call and email American Airlines several times but allegedly only received a reply on July 26th, more than two weeks after the incident.

In the reply, the airline employee apologized for the delayed response but provided no fruitful update on the missing baggage. And more than six weeks after the incident on August 19th, the same airline employee wrote an email updating that American Airlines was still searching for the missing baggage but had been unsuccessful in its efforts.

The baggage is finally found … in Hamburg

Then on August 22nd, the Mays received a call from an unknown couple hinting that the missing baggage had been found coincidentally as they were searching for their own lost baggage at Hamburg Airport. The couple kindly emailed the Mays a picture of the baggage and its tag, which had a handwritten sticker saying ‘BA.’

Both American Airlines and British Airways are members of the oneworld alliance. Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

It should have been impossible for the baggage to end up in Hamburg, as the Mays flew directly from London to Charlotte with American Airlines, and it was not a codeshare flight with British Airways. The couple was confused as Michelle said:

“Somehow a piece of luggage that did not belong to British Airways is now in the possession of British Airways.”

Trying to get an answer from American Airlines proved futile as Michelle was told that the airline could not do anything to retrieve their baggage from Hamburg Airport as there were no agents and no direct flights. The oneworld member airline also told Michelle that she would have to speak with the same employee she’d spoken with previously to avoid the situation from becoming messier.

Unfortunately, her efforts to contact the same airline employee were equally futile as she was yet to receive a reply. Upon contacting Hamburg Airport, however, the airport blamed American Airlines for losing the bag. Without much answers or help from the airline, Michelle is hoping that her friends di lei in Germany, who live three hours from Hamburg, can help collect the bag, or they would pay a company to ship the bag to Charlotte.

What could have happened?

Considering the missing baggage was found with a handwritten tag that indicated ‘BA,’ a possible theory could be an airline staff mistakenly thought the baggage was headed for Hamburg and wrote the label. Then again, the Mays’ airline tickets were indicated for a direct American Airlines flight from London to Charlotte on Business Class, Still, the miscommunication most probably happened during check-in, given how busy and overworked airline personnel have been amidst the surge in passenger demand and flight changes.

Source: Africa Business Insider

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