While waiting to board our first flight, they put out a plea for passengers to gate check bags as the flight was full. We figured gate checking is pretty safe and since we both had a large bag and a small bag, we decided it would be nice of us to gate check our larger bags. We watched them get tagged and we watched the baggage handler take them from the jetway. Pretty low risk, right?
This sad-faced Paul is proof that it didn't work out so well. Mine made it through and was returned to me in LA. Paul's bag did not. The plane we had been on was continuing on to Hawaii, so we suspected there was a short window of time to troubleshoot. We went immediately to the baggage services office for Delta. Here is where an inconvenient situation became completely frustrating and nasty. The 3 staff members there were all completely uninterested in helping us. The most senior staff member even went so far as to walk away and refuse to listen to me after I asked him to stop interrupting and talking over me. Apparently being able to complete my sentence was too much to ask! They eventually washed their hands of us and told us to handle it with the airline we were flying with for the other part of our trip.
Adding more stress to the situation was the fact that Lucy, our friend in LA, had been outside for almost 3 hours waiting to pick us up. We had planned to see her and be tourists in LA for the day. She was incredibly patient and waited out the first round of the Delta fiasco so that we could at least leave the airport and have a meal together. Thanks to her, our airport time was broken up by wonderful glimpses of palm trees and ocean views.
Food helped! After we ate and caught up with her a bit, we headed back to the airport to see what else we could figure out before we left the country without Paul's bag of clothes and shoes. Luckily we were there earlier than originally planned, because we found out our departing flight had been pushed an hour earlier. Our ticketing agency had failed to update us! I was very grateful we had not missed the flight!
After having been told a different set of instructions by each person we talked to, we decided to just let it be and hope for the best once we got there.
We flew Virgin Australia and it was a great flight. Paul was psyched they had old school pac-man. I was psyched that they gave me edible vegan food. (Tip: I had the vegetarian food on the way back. They do better with vegan food.)
After a longish layover in Sydney, Australia, where we perused the airport shops selling boomerangs and crocodile meat, we got on one last flight.
And then, we were there! Tired, but tired in NEW ZEALAND! Sadly, Paul's bag was not there. It stayed on that first plane and went to Honolulu instead.
Total time in transit from door to door = approximately 40 hours.