I went home in the end of June, for my sister’s college graduation and for a concert, so, without much conscience of it, I packed all of my favorite summer clothes in this small suitcase!
It all went well and while at home, I even went shopping! In the day before coming back to Barcelona I don’t even know how I managed to put everything inside this tiny thing… I even had some of my PhD samples in there!!!!
So, in the 28th June, 2 hours before my flight and with online check in already done, my mom dropped me off at the airport – because it had been a General Strike the day before and we assumed the airport would be a little manic. Nothing could prepared me for what I found!
Usually when your check in is done, you go to a special lane (usually the same one as executive passengers) to drop off your luggage – considering that you spent time in your computer doing the online check in!!! But not in that day! Because of the strike, several planes had been canceled the day before and the airport was pure chaos, so TAP airlines decided not to give special treatment to those who had already done the work, so if you had your check in already done, tough luck – you had to go to the same huge lane as everybody else – which meant almost 2 hours in a queue with people flying to all sort of places, just to drop off my really small suitcase, for a 1h30min flight!
I finally delivered it when my plane was already supposed to be taking off – but it was delayed a bit, they all were! But at that moment I had a really bad felling about it…
With about 1 hour and a half delay, we finally took off – but not before the commander explained that we were waiting because they had to take suitcases of the plane from people that did not entered the plane (really?! who would spend 2 or more hours in line to drop off a suitcase and not board?!). They also apologized because they had minimum crew on board – just 2 instead of the 4 normal personnel for the Airbus319 – and because of this they would not be serving food!
OK!!! – So far, 2 hours to drop off luggage, another hour to depart, and then, no food!!!
We finally landed at El Prat airport, Barcelona, and there I went to collect my luggage! The first time the belt started to move, about 25 bags came out… and then it stopped… 10 minutes after, it moved again, this time I would say around 50 bags made they way out… (we’re talking about a plane that was at maximum capacity, with all it’s 132 passengers and many of those with more than 1 bag!). So when the belt stopped moving, again, and no indication of more bags coming out was shown, we all made our way to the Swissport counter. After 2 hours, I finally was finally able to give my address and such, so they could deliver my suitcase as soon as it arrived… But the girl at the counter warned me: TAP flights were arriving without much of their passengers luggage since the day before (strike) and it was not coming in latter flights so far, so they had no way of knowing when it was going to get to Barcelona. Oh, and one more thing – Swissport employees had just begun a strike of their own that was going to last a week!
I spent my weekend trying to get in touch with Swissport and nothing! So I called Groundforce (luggage handling for TAP in Lisbon) and my bag was still at the TAP Lisbon’s depository. After calling 3 days in a row, finally TAP sent my bag to Barcelona! – the problem was, there were a lot of luggage to be sent out but all the flights were full and people (because of vacations and such) were travelling with a lot of weight, and the aircrafts can’t exceed the safety regulated weight!
So, on the 2nd of July, at 7h24min in the morning, a guy from Swissport called me to tell me that my bag was ready to be delivered, at what time could they bring it to me, so I asked to be at the end of the day, and from 7pm to 11pm I patiently waited at home for my long lost suitcase… and then I kept waiting for a few more days…
For 5 days I tried to call Swissport and nobody picked up! I called Groundforce and TAP and they sent internal mails that they assured me Swissport personnel had to see… they didn’t! So after waiting for 9 days for my bag, on the 7th (Sunday) I made my way to the airport and back to the Swissport counter! So my bag was in storage, they hadn’t delivered it yet, because they were still on strike and without personnel to do so, they also weren’t picking up phones and they weren’t reading e-mails from their airlines!
Just to sum it up:
– 27th June: General strike in Portugal – Groundforce and TAP employees go on strike – flights delayed and cancelled, huge confusion at the airport and luggage that doesn’t leave Lisbon airport for about a week!
– 28th June on: Swissport goes on strike – luggage that finally makes it’s way from several affected airports from all around Europe sits at the Barcelona airport and nobody gives a damn to even pick up a phone or answer an e-mail!
– If I haven’t gone to the airport to retrieve my bag, I would still be waiting for it! Oh… How I love strikes…