Sunday, November 17, 2019

5 Things I Learned from Losing my Luggage with Air Transat

This story expands on our summer holiday detailed here https://www.chromiloamin.com/2019/09/our-45-day-summer-vacation.html?m=1. I mentioned in that story that I flew out to Montreal the day before my wife's birthday end of July 2019. The flight was uneventful if not for my lost luggage with Air Transat. The feeling was that of frustration and disbelief as I waited along with other passengers at our specified baggage pickup carousel. We waited and waited until the next flight's luggage started filling that same carousel which gave me the sinking feeling that something was very wrong. Then an Air Transat Central Baggage staff started filling in our claim and were told to head on to our hotels while they locate my luggage. I stayed calm even though the staff spoke primarily French and we had issues communicating clearly. I had mixed feelings heading to Hotel Gouverneur Montreal downtown on bus 747 close to 11pm at night but what else could one do. It happens I said to myself and there is always a first.

For the next 24 hours I had to buy many necessities that were in my missing luggage like toiletries and change of clothes. I kept in constant communication and correspondence with Air Transat who has now set up a slick login to Central Baggage website so I can check on status. I talked to someone and they said that in these type of cases, the most likely reason is that the luggage never left the source airport. I found that strange because there were a few passengers I remember who had their luggage at the carousel that night. Maybe I just imagined it and was tired. Nevertheless, they were right and all Central Baggage staff had to do was wait for the next flight from Vancouver to Montreal to be able to get all the missed luggages back to get to their intended owners. It was a good thing I stayed at Hotel Gouverneur for 3 days so the Central Baggage staff was able to get it delivered on an airport shuttle bus directly to my hotel in the very early morning (around 2am or so) and was so relieved when it showed up. 

Everything with my luggage seemed intact except I discovered that the lock (which I didn't even use to lock my belongings) has been removed or has gone missing. Other than that I was fairly ecstatic to have all my things back and to continue on with my vacation. Previously I was told by Central Baggage staff over the phone that I was able to spend up to $50 per day until the luggage was found. I kept all my receipts and at the end of my trip, I sent all of the receipts totaling $127 to Central Baggage on August 13 by filling a claim here
https://www.airtransat.com/fr-CA/Travel-information/Baggage/Claims. There were no questions on the reimbursement claim and they graciously reimbursed me the amount after two months of waiting. I did try to get updates from Central Baggages directly during the two-month period but when I didn't hear back soon enough I resorted to Twitter sending direct-message to @airtransat  who said the only way to escalate was to call them directly at 1-800-388-5836. I didn't get a chance to call which was just as well because I received the cheque the day or two after this.

5 things I learned from losing my luggage:

1) Be empathetic and keep your cool. Do not take it out on the Air Transat Central Baggage claims staff or the airport carousel staff. It's not their fault your luggage was left behind.

2) Don't let a little hiccup ruin your vacation. Be positive and pray for the best. It usually works out in the end.

3) Don't expect reimbursements to happen quickly. They will get to you so patience is a virtue.

4) Don't keep anything valuable in your luggage. I was less stressed knowing I didn't have my car keys in my luggage as that was my only one , or that I didn't keep my passport and birth certificates there as well. If you can afford not to lock your luggage like I did, that is best situation to be in.

5) Make sure you can describe the make, model, and colour of your luggage. I didn't know these specifics as it wasn't mine and just borrowed from my brother. Knowing these things in advance helps lessen the stresss that you will be subjected to when there is a lineup to complete the claim forms requiring a description of the missing luggage.

Overall I was happy dealing with Air Transat. I would hope you never lose your luggage but if you do, you will hopefully know how to deal with it after reading this.

Sunday, September 29, 2019

Our 45-day Summer Vacation

My kids and wife flew out to Niagara Falls immediately when the school bell sounded. That's how excited we were to start out on our summer vacation. I could only take 2 weeks off from work so I stayed behind and planned to fly out end of July. I was a bachelor until then.

Niagara Falls from Jun 29-Jul 14
The adventure starts in Niagara Falls where my in-laws live. My  kids and wife bonded with cousins and extended family for about two weeks. Starting July 6 they went camping at Fifty Point Conservatory Area in Hamilton and boating in Lake Ontario. 



My kids rode at top speed on the boat and also got pulled behind the boat on a three-person inflatable dingy.




Their adventure continued south to Washington DC after that, driving for 7 hours. 


Washington DC from July 15
They went to Washington DC for a day and stayed at Hilton Garden Inn. They went to see the Whitehouse, the US capitol, the Lincoln Memorial, Washington monument, and many other landmarks.

  
   

From there, they drove 7 hours south to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina.

Myrtle Beach South Carolina from July 15-22
They went to Myrtle Beach in South Carolina for a week. Here is a shot of the world famous King Kong on top of the wax museum. It's famous for the beaches so after settling in at a Myrtle Beach State Park campgrounds they wasted no time going to the beach.



They went to Helicopter Adventures to ride around the city and I heard the ride fees were very reasonable. My kids were not scared at all. They also went to Waccatee Zoological Farm zoo, Ripley's Aquarium of Myrtle Beach, and a waterpark.

  

After that, they took a 9 hour trip north to Atlantic City.


Atlantic City, New Jersey from Jul 22-25
In Atlantic City they stayed for a week at Caesars Atlantic City Hotel and Casino. They walked around the famous boardwalk which was vibrant with music in the day and especially at night.

  


They went to watch an MMA professional fighters league event at Oceans Casino Resort at the end of their trip on July 25. I believe it was Alexandre Almeida vs Peter Petties  in this video.
 


The next day they made their way from Atlantic city for a 7 hour trip to Montreal where my nephews live.



Montreal from July 26-Aug 8
On July 27, they went watch the fireworks at old Port Montreal.




The next day they went to Saint Helen Island. They rode the Le Boomerang, Orbite, and won a big stuffed elephant prize by sinking a hoop around some bottles.  


I joined my family in Montreal the day before my wife’s birthday. It would have been a great flight if not for my lost luggage with Air Transat. I waited along with other passengers until the next flight's luggage started filling the carousel. The Air Transat central baggage staff started filling in our claims and were told to head on to our hotels while they locate my luggage. I was so disappointed heading to Hotel Gouverneur Montreal downtown on bus 747 close to 11pm at night. The only I had going for me was that I get to see my family after a month of physical separation.

The hotel was at the corner of rue Saint Catherine and rue Berri. My first impression was that it was a poor part of town similar to Hastings area in downtown Vancouver but that was so far from the truth the longer I stayed there. There was a permanent road closure at that intersection that extended all the way east of rue Saint Catherine, with strings of decorative balls hanging on top of the streets. It was very festive even at that late hour. The walk to my nephew’s apartment was short and was finally greeted at the door by my nephew who has now grown to be a towering man. 

On my wife’s birthday, we all went to an all you can eat Japanese restaurant on Rue du Square-Phillips called Kuu Bistro.  On July 31 we went to the old Port of Montreal to see the Notre Dame Basilica. The building architecture was amazing. We took Uber and Metro every chance we can get.


  
  

On Aug 2 we went stay over at my nephew's home and had some Montreal poutine and smoked meat at a nearby restaurant.
On Saturday Aug 3 the kids with their cousins went to Laser Quest and Amaze Escape Inc downtown Montreal to hang out. On Aug 5 we walked around St Catherine Rue and are our at Kinka Izakawa restaurant. I really liked how the outdoor patios there take up most of the street. 

On Aug 3, we went hiking up Mont Royal to see a breathtaking view of the city.


   


We went to St Viateur Bagels as we heard so much about this place and ordered one of each kind. 

The next day was Sunday so we went to Saint Joseph's Oratory with everyone and attended the English mass. Parking was bad and we were practically the last one through the gate before they closed it and put a "Lot Full" sign. The church was so big that my brother-in-law was able to attend the French mass happening at the same time at the basilica in the same building. There were many construction sites in Montreal during summer and the oratory was no exception. After the mass, I went up to see the stations of the cross while everyone else enjoyed the plaza.

  

On Aug 6, we went to see the Rogers Coupe at Stade IGA, 285 Gary Carter St. All four of us tried to go but couldn't find parking so me and my wife were dropped off and we took the metro on our way back. We got to see some of the matches on National Bank courts and saw the big names on big screen. There was some rain that night where the game was postponed so we relied on their website for updates. Did you know that they offer no refunds until Tennis Canada makes a call of a cancellation, which could go as late as 2am? We headed off to a nearby McDonalds to wait it out and so did many spectators. Thank goodness the rain stopped and we were able to finish the matches.
 

On Aug 7, everyone went to eat out at this fancy all you can eat Japanese restaurant called Taiyo. It is self service in that you are provided an iPad or two to order whatever you want from their online menu. This was our last night in Montreal and headed back to my in-laws' home the next day. We did a detour to Ottawa which was a 2 hour drive.


Ottawa on Aug 8
We drove through Ottawa because we couldn't find parking. We drove by Parliament Hill and got to enjoy the majesty of our nation's capital. 

 

It was a quick detour as it was getting dark and had just finished raining, so we made our trek to Niagara Falls which took a long time to get to it seems.



Niagara Falls on Aug 9
After a relaxing stay, we went to the McBain Community Centre YMCA for a little exercise. Did some weight lifting while wife and in-laws hit the pool.



Buffalo on Aug 10
After spending some time at my in-laws home in Niagara Falls, we headed south to Buffalo, New York to visit the Naval Museum. On our way we stopped by the Our Lady of Fatima Shrine. 
 

We headed on to Canalside where there was coincidentally a Nelly live concert, which was situated right where the Naval Museum was. My kids had their portraits drawn for US$1, we saw these floating tiki bars on the water (I bet you get drunk real quick on these boats), and then drove around the depressed city of Buffalo. It was very sad to see the place so deserted and reminds me of Detroit's urban prairie.


 


   


We spent the weekend going to the local outlet malls and packing our things before heading back to Vancouver. This was a very memorable trip for me and my family. I'm very thankful for my extended family back east and the hospitality they have shown to me, my wife, and kids, and hope to be able to show the same when they head out here next.