Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek. 

What goes on inside the airline world is likely more fascinating than anything onlookers see.

Which is why the plight of Marion Johnson moves me.

She was flying on budget airline EasyJet from Bristol in England's West, to Porto, a place that has much finer port than does Bristol.

It seems that her luggage didn't fly with her.

Yes, she'd checked it in. It simply never arrived.

Johnson was distraught. Principally, because no one could tell her with certainty where her luggage was.

These days, computer systems have made it easier for luggage to be tracked. 

Somehow, Johnson's luggage seemed to have rebelled against the system, grown sprightly limbs and wings and disappeared.

Indeed, she told the Bristol Post that EasyJet described her luggage as "irretrievable."

How might an airline conclude that luggage was lost for ever? Could it have been spotted flying over Europe, carried by a flock of geese to a sanctuary somewhere near Corfu? 

What about the airport? Johnson said it seemed to have had no idea either and didn't even return her calls.

Please imagine, then, Johnson's deeper emotions more than three months later when her luggage suddenly arrived back at her house. 

"I was furious," she said. "To wait three and a half months and then to be told that my luggage had been stuck in Lost and Found all this time."

The airline had hired a company called First Flight Forwarders to trace it. It insisted that the luggage has been in the airport's Lost and Found all along. 

Was someone, perhaps, responsible for its extended, if stationary, absence?

I contacted the airport to ask why Johnson's luggage had been at the airport Lost and Found for such an extended period.

I got a fascinating response.

"It wasn't," an airport spokesman told me. "We have investigated this complaint and there is no evidence that this bag was ever in our Lost Property facility."

Ah.

So what might have happened and who might have been responsible?

"Baggage handling is the responsibility of airlines and their contracted ground handlers, not airports," said the airport spokesman.

What could I do but contact EasyJet? The sense of mystery only deepened.

A spokeswoman for the airline began by telling me how good the airline is at not losing luggage.

"EasyJet flies on average over 1500 flights per day across more than 30 countries and incidents of damaged luggage are extremely low. World Tracer, the independent body used by the industry for luggage tracking, shows EasyJet to be one of the best in the industry, with the incidences of delayed luggage at less than 0.5 per 1000 customers."

Can we call more than three months a delay?

Or does it seem more like an incarceration?

Still, EasyJet decided to compensate Johnson.

A spokeswoman told me: "EasyJet has apologized to Mrs. Johnson for the delay she experienced in being reunited with her bag," 

There's that delay word again. Johnson, a retired realtor, said she spent 350 Euros on essentials she had to replace while in Porto.

"We have already reimbursed the cost of her hold luggage and have been in touch with the customer to reimburse all remaining expenses," said EasyJet's spokeswoman with a touch of nobility.

But, forgive me for asking again, what actually happened to the luggage? Where had it been and why?

In this miasma of doubt, it seems that we have to invent things the luggage did. 

It went to luggage parties in the airport at the dead of night, where the bags get together for rocking and rolling. 

It went into the Luggage Confidential support group to sit with fellow pieces of luggage that had been mistreated by airport handlers and wanted to tell their stories. 

It sat in a corner, its tag perfectly begging to be addressed, shouting: "Oy. Oy. What about me?"

And no one listened.

Published on: Feb 18, 2018