You know that sinking feeling you get when you are waiting at the baggage carrousel for your bag, the same bags are going around over and over, and no new bags are coming off the belt? Been there. Last night, though, was even worse—as I stepped off my MegaBus bus in New York City, all the luggage had been unloaded and was sitting on the curb of 7th Avenue and 28th St in Manhattan. There was one bag left. And it wasn’t mine.
It looked similar, though by no means identical. It was a black roller bag, a bit bulkier than mine, with no sort of identification on it. I waited a few minutes, hoping that someone had grabbed my bag instead of this one by mistake and would bring it right back. I had a sinking feeling that a clever thief was hanging out at the bus stop and had casually grabbed my bag—there is no sort of luggage tag or claim check when you place bags in the underbelly of a MegaBus bus.
But no one showed up. I opened the bag, hoping there would be some sort of identification inside. Nothing. I told the driver and the guy unloading bags what had happened and though apologetic, they said nothing could be done and I was given a local Elizabeth, NJ telephone number that was supposed to be MegaBus customer service.
I asked to keep the bag, hoping that the person who had my bag would find a way to get in contact with me, but the driver said he needed to take it to the MegaBus office on 34th Street for safekeeping. The bus pulled away, but I waited around another 15 minutes—hoping that someone would return with a bag. No one showed.
In the meantime, I called MegaBus customer service where (after a lengthy hold) I spoke to a woman who stated that no one had turned anything in and that if I wanted to, I could file a claim online. If I wanted to?! She took down my name and telephone number and promised to call if someone turned my bag in. I told her to look for a black bag with a silver United Airlines luggage tag bearing my name.
I met up with Mike and while I was completing an emergency award booking for a client prior to dinner, an e-mail popped in via upgrd.com. A woman in Brooklyn had my bag!
She wanted to know whether I had her bag and Mike and I concluded the best course of action would be to get her to agree to take my bag to me before telling her how she could reclaim her bag. She agreed to take the bag to me and I told her that her own bag was safe and sound in the MegaBus NYC office and I would provide her with a telephone number and contact person upon delivery of the bag.
Twenty minutes later I was re-united with my bag. Mike and I were sitting in The Red Cat on 227 10th St when the lady appeared at the hostess desk with my bag. The exchange may have looked suspicious, but I had my bag back and all the contents inside (admittedly, I did not verify this until later, as the woman looked quite trusting). She profusely apologized for the mix-up and I gave her the customer service number and told her to head to 34th Street.
The bag was full of clothes and a few personal articles, which could have been replaced, but dealing with an insurance claim in correlation with my Chase Sapphire Card just did not seem appealing, especially when I am off to Hawaii for the weekend.
My story is heartening. Mistakes happen and though I assumed the worst, it turned out to be an honest mistake that was quickly remedied. This story also shows that any pretense of privacy I had is gone…the woman did not open the bag (where she could have found more personal information). She just looked at my United 1K luggage tag, googled my name, and reached me by e-mail seconds later. Next time I use MegaBus—if there is a next time—I will place my RFD tag on my checked bag…