I'm in Vegas, My Bag is Not
Today I flew to visit two friends who were meeting up in Vegas for the weekend. They were here for several days before my arrival, but due to toddler care-taking commitments (AKA being a mom), I couldn't get away for the whole weekend. However, I was very excited to join them for one night. We were going to go to the pool, go out to dinner, play some slots, and just have fun.
I did what any reasonable gal would do when going to meet up with girlfriends in Vegas for one night. I packed a nice swimsuit, swimsuit cover, going out dress, casual clothes, heels, sandals, make-up, extra "just in case we change our minds and do something else clothes", etc. Since this was just a one night event, I clearly did not plan on checking my bag.
This morning I woke up right when the alarm went off at (a very early) 5AM. I successfully got ready and out of the house without waking the sleeping toddler and headed to the airport. I'm not a morning person, so successfully getting out of the house even roughly on time is a victory. I was early enough there was no traffic on I-45, and I arrived to the airport ready to rock and roll........until I reached security. It was a Monday morning and I expected some sort of security line. However, they were only operating one of the three security lines, and as a result the very long line was moving at a slug's pace. Not good. Then my gate was about as far as it could be from where I was. Also not good.
Despite the pretty hefty security delay I make it to the gate without running, and with at last 10-15 minutes to spare. They had already been through the boarding process, but the plane was by no means 100% full. However, the bins were apparently already 100% full. I am blocked at the door and told that I must gate check my carry-on since there is no more space. I immediately had a bad feeling about this. We were close to the time of departure, I had a connection with a decent length layover, and something just felt wrong. I went so far as to write my phone number a second time on an extra bag tag while I stood there because I was worried. But, regardless of my concern I didn't want to hold up the line as other folks were now stuck behind me and my ill fated bag, so my only protest to checking my bag was the sad face that I made as I walked away from my bag. In retrospect, I should have taken a few key items out of the bag since it was no longer a carry-on.
I had brunch with a friend during my layover in San Francisco (thanks Jetsetr!) and then made it to Las Vegas on time. When I arrived at the luggage carousel and didn't see my bag circling with the other bags I again had a bad feeling. You know where this story is heading - my bag didn't make it. After waiting in line to talk to the United baggage office I am immediately told that the paper bag tag thing that the flight attendant filled out is "all wrong". Honestly I can't tell what is "all wrong" about it by looking at it, but the bag boss lady insisted it was all wrong and she wasn't sure where my bag would be. Attempting to track it in the computer did no good. There was no estimate of when it might arrive. There was no guess as to a location where it might be. There were no emergency flares sent up. Just, no bag. No clothes. No make-up. No dice. She was impressed I had a photo of my bag - heck, I have a whole post about my bag!
I try to explain that I have nothing with me and will need clothes, a hair brush, etc. She gives me a case number and tells me to call a 1-800 number if I need some items immediately. The only way to get authorized for the reimbursement of some immediate needs items is to call and request approval. I call that 1-800 number the second I get out of the airport and explain to the woman on the phone the list of items I need right now. For starters I need a change of clothes, a hair brush, toothbrush, toothpaste, a bathing suit, etc. I am on vacation and need those items right now to make the most of my already insanely short trip to visit friends. If this happened when I was returning home, my needs would be much less. I try explaining that I don't have a car and will be purchasing these items at the hotel so they will be quite pricey. They didn't particularly care about that and authorized $100. If I had access to a car and Target that would probably work, but I had already lost about 90 minutes of my already short trip dealing with this, so I was stuck shopping at the Mirage Hotel. I love Vegas, but the "Vegas Fabulous" look is not my typical style.
This is where things get funny. As expected, prices for any clothing items at a hotel are insanely high. Just for fun, here was a portion of the shopping list:
Hootchy-mama Kim Kardashian hot pink bathing suit that only covers a small portion of my tail: $135 (and trust me, it was the best of the available overpriced options)
Fairly Gaudy Beatles Love t-shirt: $35
Semi-Tacky (and super short) Bare pool shorts: $36
Two items of lame-o not even my color make-up: $70
That is $276 for a handful of items I didn't even want, but I couldn't go to the pool without a swimsuit, and needed some clothes to change into. I also needed at least a little make-up since we were eating a nice dinner in Vegas. Truly, I look like a Hot Vegas Mess. That $100 barely scratches the surface. To make things worse, I didn't pack my inexpensive clothes in that bag. Since I was going to Vegas many of my favorite (and probably more expensive) articles of clothing and shoes were in that bag. Had I been going camping or to the beach, the t-shirts and shoes I would have lost would have been much easier to replace, but I wasn't going camping. I was doing something pretty rare for me - I was getting dressed up. I didn't plan to check that bag in the first place, so hadn't packed it as a checked bag. I was at least smart enough not to have electronics, jewelery, cash, etc. in there. I know it is just stuff, but it is my stuff and I would prefer to not lose it.
So, tomorrow I will be decked out from head to toe in the finest duds the gift shop has to offer. As to what happens next with my bag - I'm not sure. I'm supposed to keep calling to check the status with that 1-800 number, and I am also supposed to mail in my $100 worth of "immediate needs" receipts for reimbursement. I guess the other $186 I spent today on my new wardrobe is just tough luck for me. What stinks is they just seem to have no clue as to where the bag could have gone. I'm trying to stay optimistic, but stay on the look-out for a forest green Briggs and Riley bag on the next episode of "Baggage Battles" on the Travel Channel. I'll trade you a barely used Kardashian bathing suit for the bag. Heck, I'll even throw in a Beatles Love t-shirt free of charge.
Travel enough and a lost or delayed bag is bound to happen. Truthfully, it is better that it happened on this trip than a longer trip, or one with my daughter. However, that doesn't mean it any less annoying, expensive, or time consuming to deal with on this trip. I hope my bag will magically re-appear tomorrow. If not, I'm sure it will be a super fun process of trying to recoup at least a good portion of what was actually in the bag. My take-away fro this so far is that if you are only going somewhere for a night, just bring a bag that will fit under the seat in front of you. The roller bag is super convenient to pull through the airport, but much less convenient when it fails to arrive at your final destination. It is easy to look back at this situation and point out all the places I could have done something differently, but in the end that doesn't get me any closer to being reunited with my clothes and non-hoochy mama bathing suit. Oh well, maybe I can at least hit the progressive on the Wheel of Fortune slot machines as a consolation prize! ;)