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VA Baggage-Like Watching Monkeys With A Football...

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Virgin baggage blues.

Just returned from a 3 day trip to Australia via Virgin Australia. A very nice in the air business class experience was ruined by a third world on the ground experience with Virgin's baggage process.

Left LA on Sunday, after connecting from a Delta flight. 2 hour layover, so no worries on baggage, right? Took VA to Melbourne. Upon arrival, no bag. As I had two days of business meetings, this was a big deal.

VA baggage agent in Melbourne says a bunch of bags missed the flight (and he had a stack of claim forms on his desk). Also says "this happens a lot with Delta". Says that bag will be in MEL on the flight arriving the next morning, and would be sent on to Adelaide (where my meetings were). OK, hassle, but it does happen. Filled out claim forms with all relevant info, run over to catch the flight to Adelaide, rush over to buy a suit and clothes for meetings the next morning, expecting I'll have the bag by mid afternoon at the latest.

The next two days were a never ending horror show of trying to get a status out of VA. The Melbourne office doesn't answer the phone, left multiple messages. Finally get through to them and they say the bag still is in LA. Back to buy yet more clothes for the next day meeting. Same story the next day, no status on website or via phone.

Leaving the third day, talk to the baggage agent at the Adelaide airport. He says the bag is enroute from LA to Mel, but will try to get it to Sydney (connecting city) and reunited with me. Check in at Sydney, of course no bag, and agents there promise to get it to LA and shipped home to me in San Diego. Get to LA, they say the bag is still in Sydney, and has been routed to Sacramento (different city in the US, no idea why it would ever go there).

Bottom line, 5 days in and still no bag, major financial hit and inconvenience, and the worst overall experience I've had in 20 years as a frequent flyer worldwide. I've actually flown into Mogadishu and had a better baggage experience.

Some takeaways: 14 separate interactions with Virgin Australia over the past five days, and not once did someone follow up with a phone call or email (as they promised to do-left contact info at every step), or even apologize for the screw up. II understand mistakes happen, but no one seemed to take any interest in resolving this issue, and no status or proactive approach to communications at all-generally a "we could care less" approach. Absolutely unbelievable.

Now off to the claim process, where I'm sure I'll get the token $100 brush off payment for five days of hassle.

I've already changed carriers for my remaining trips for the year. Adding up 5 business class fares, that's close to $80k in revenue lost in the near term. Hope it was worth it Virgin...
 
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mannej

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I understand the frustration, but there is no need to post duplicate threads word for word.

The AFF lot are not a dense lot, they get it first time round;)
 

RooFlyer

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Commiserations ... unfortunately when there is a right royal screw-up (as opposed to a regular screw up) all airlines are much the same. I had a similar experience with bags coming back from the USA. I happened to be in touch with a local Qantas manager at the time and he agreed to really see where the various screw ups occurred. I posted it here.

The biggest discovery for me (applies to Qantas but probably other airlines as well) was that when awaiting a delayed bag in Australia, no-one actually knows for sure if the bag is on a particular flight until after it clears customs in Australia. Until that time, it might be 'scheduled' or 'expected' on a particular inbound flight, but for a variety of reasons may not be and somehow this can't be advised to the receiving end. However the airline reps will be reading off their screen what's supposed to be happening, but they won't tell you that this is just theoretical.
 

Quickstatus

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Mydaughter was on. Den -Slc-lax-syd. Delta then virgin for lax -syd.

den -slc got delayed so much that the connection time at Slc was only 15 min

Anyway made the connection. But the bags also made connection.

Your point is not so much that missing bags occur but that when things go wrong, no one takes ownership of the problem leaving the customer to constantly ring and repeat his story each time.
 

djchuckles

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I had a similar experience - got $300 out of Virgin which wasn't bad considering. Can claim any extra costs through my travel insurance (up to $500)
 

JohnK

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Hope you are reunited with your bags soon.

I had a similar type of incident~7 years ago. Bags supposedly following me around from the USA to Greece. Got one bag ~3 days later when I was passing through ATH airport. At ~7 days I was leaving Greece. Luckily I insisted checking the lost luggage room and saw my bag out of the corner of my eye. Not registered as received. Who knows where it would have ended up.
 

dlfyerau

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The problem with these situations is that there isn't one person responsible for your bags and the only people that actually care - yourself and VA customer relations (in theory) - don't have any control over it. The baggage handlers don't give a **** and my experience is that each airport has a desk where someone takes all the lost baggage forms and sends them off elsewhere for someone else to deal with, who also probably doesn't care.

It's actually quite shocking the lengths airlines will go to in order to get out of paying any compensation to customers who have already forked out thousands for fares. Logically I would assume that business class customers have a particular team that follows up each day on these sorts of things. That's obviously not the case!

I had a damaged baggage claim with VA last year and the experience could best be described as painstaking, convoluted and lacking any sign of concern for the customer. This seems to be the case with all airlines though but I do know multiple people that have had their bags lost by VA, including myself.

I'd be explaining very clearly what their lost revenue is likely to amount to as a result of not being able to phone you with an update at any stage.
 

navy88

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Agree with everyone else above-I had a similar experience with VA earlier this year, and am trying to avoid flying them now. Baggage seems to be one of those things that makes a very tempting target for airline cost cutting, which is fine until it doesn't work and you need assistance quickly. dlferau is right, VA has this weird hodgepodge of third party companies, websites, and poorly motivated employees working these issues, which makes it very easy to duck responsibility. Bad enough for any traveler, but you'd think they would pay more attention to frequent flyers/business class travelers. I've had better experiences with other airlines, so it's not an industry wide issue as far as I can see.
 

bertair

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While my experience is not so much with lost or missing baggage, it is what I witnessed from the window of my aircraft in Melbourne recently that is a concern and the VA Customer Service Desk attitude to my reporting could have been better.
Baggage handlers were standing on the conveyor truck throwing arriving bags onto the trolley while another was picking up those that over shot the deck,landing on the tarmac, or straightening them up on the trailer.
I wonder how many bags ended up damaged or their contents damaged such was the impact.
I described the handlers, the flight #, I had come in on before I collected my bag to a VA Customer Desk,only to be informed that the handlers were contractors and not VA staff, so not much could be done, but I was informed "that the matter would be passed on".
On collecting my bag, it did have scuff marks, but I could not say it happened as a result of the rough handling I witnessed.
I wonder what training and screening Australian Baggage handlers have, as I was recently informed by a Customs Officer friend that some are no longer working at airports due to their criminal record.
 

Justinf

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I'm struggling to see what the thread title has to do with the OP's actual experience?
 

Fantic125

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The OP's beef was with VA, but I've had the same experience with QF and CO.

ADL-SYD-SFO-ORD-CLE flight, my bag arrived 3 days later. Thankfully I was checking out the next morning, so I didn't even need to unpack it.

ADL-SYD-HKG-PVG, my bag arrived the following day after a day trip to SIN.

All I can put it down to is that I don't listen closely enough to my bags needs, and sometimes we needs to spend some time apart.
 
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So, the saga finally ended-bag arrived back in San Diego on Sat, 6 days after it went missing in Los Angeles and flew around Australia for a while. I'm still really frustrated with VA's performance on this. Bags do go missing, but after you hand an airline $10k to get you and a bag from point A to point B, and something goes wrong, I expect a good faith effort to try to fix the issue. I also got my first actual communication from VA last night, in response to a complaint I submitted on their website. They promised to "look into" where my bag was and get back to me. Unfortunately this was 4 days after the trip ended and 2 days after I got the bag back, so not a real confidence builder. As a comparison, Delta sent me 2 calls and 3 emails in the 18 hours from when they got the bag back in LA to when they delivered it to my house. It's clear that VA has cut back on baggage service to save money, with predictable results. I'm off to submit a claim form, but don't expect much. I've moved my entire team's travel business to Quantas for the rest of the year (8 business class fares), hope for something better there.
 
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dlfyerau

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I've moved my entire team's travel business to Quantas for the rest of the year (8 business class fares), hope for something better there.

I actually find this hilarious. I guess you always sort of think "oh well VA aren't losing much by providing ****ty service after people have travelled - they've already got the funds from the pax".

I'd love to hear a response from VA on this.
 
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