Post Pandemic Adventure Travel: My Baggage Flight-Mare & Apple AirTag

Two days and two trips to San Diego Airport’s Lindbergh Field.

It’s Thursday afternoon, July 14th, 2022, in Marina Zea in Athens, Greece. It’s 87 degrees, and the humidity dampens my shirt; this, along with the tiny beads of sweat forming on my brow, is barely uncomfortable. However, what truly is taxing my comfort and patience is the state of my two-month journey in Southeastern Europe— my first adventure since the pandemic.

My July 3rd, 2022, Air Canada flight from San Diego to Athens (via Vancouver and Munich) canceled me. I returned home to spend one more evening with Dar, my Bengal Cat. With the help of the travel concierge at American Express, Air Canada rebooked me for a flight the following day, the Fourth of July. This flight was delayed by about 35 minutes, still with ample time to make my transfer inside Toronto’s Pearson International airport for my Lufthansa flight to Munich.

My checked baggage, the red duffel, and the silver duffel underneath my black camera backpack.

I arrived at the gate thirty minutes before departure when I discovered that this flight would also be delayed by about 45 minutes. This worried me because I had just one hour and ten minutes to make the transfer Innside the massive Munich Airport to catch my Aegean Airlines flight to Athens.

I landed in Munich in the E terminal just as my Aegean Airlines flight was boarding in the L terminal—and there’s no shuttle between terminals. Only long corridors, shopping areas, and hallways. I hustled down those corridors, following the signs to the “L” gates. Much to my surprise, when I arrived at my gate, a vast crowd crammed outside the boarding area. Even the Aegean Airlines flight was late.

I made it. But did my checked baggage?

I wouldn’t say I like to check baggage. However, for these summer motorcycle adventures, I must. The motorcycle helmet, boots, riding jacket, pants, and other motorcycle travel essentials are too much for a carry-on. Besides, I must pack my computer, cameras, drone, and other technology essentials in my carry-on. Everything else is packed into a large rolling duffel.

After I found my seat, secured my carry-on, and fastened my seatbelt, I thought again about my luggage. I looked out the window to see the last checked bags loaded onto the Aegean plane. That’s when it occurred to me that I had fitted one of the items in my checked bag with an Apple AirTag. The AirTag is a device that can track personal items via the Apple “Find My” app on the iPhone. I launched the app, and to my surprise, my bag never left Toronto—I could see it still in the terminal.

Shit.

I arrived in Athens on Tuesday, July 5th, at 2:30 PM. I didn’t bother waiting for my bags to roll onto the baggage claim carousel. Instead, I immediately filed a “Property Irregularity Report” with Golden Air Baggage Tracing at Athens airport. They told me I would get a phone call or email in a couple of days with information on how I could retrieve my bags.


On Thursday morning in Athens, I still had no bags. Though I rarely pack my toiletries in my carry-on, I was lucky I did so for this trip. But clothes? Nope! I only had what I wore on the long 18-hour flight to Athens.
I watched my bags move from Toronto to Munich, and finally, on Thursday afternoon, my AirTag showed my bags at Athens airport. I waited for the phone call or email.

As I continued to track my bags, I visited Vagianelis BMW, where George, Alex, and the great team attended to my motorcycle, Doc, ensuring that it was ready and safe for my #journey2022 in southeastern Europe. They knew I would be on that.

The only plans I had solidified for my #journey2022 included a Friday ferry ride to Paros Island, where I would connect and stay through July 14th with my brother and his family and mutual friends, Paul and Karen, and their family.

I packed my Apple AirTag fitted Ranger DSLR Sling Bag into my checked luggage. This is my around-town bag I carry with my Canon DSLR, DJI Pocket camera, and other creator tools for bringing my stories to my blog, YouTube channel, and Instagram.

I did not want to leave the status of my bags to fate. So as the adventure continued, On Thursday evening, I took the 40-minute taxi ride to the airport, talked my way into the baggage claim area, and searched for the bag.
I found hundreds of lost bags strewn everywhere, except mine. At the Golden Air Baggage Tracing counter, I stopped counting after 50 the number of people waiting—the same line I waited in on Tuesday when I landed.

I followed my bag’s AirTag homing beacon (I just loved writing that, the Find My app) and pinned it to behind the wall of one of the carousels—and security and gates. There was no way to get back there.

Athens International Airport July 2022 Lost Baggage & Baggage Claim Madness. Where is WorldRider’s luggage with his helmet, boots, and riding suit?

So my expensive two-way taxi ride to the airport left me empty-handed again. But I managed to convince a compassionate woman to look at the bag on the “Find My” app. With her airport credentials, she unlocked the door and entered the secure area of baggage claim. After fifteen minutes, she returned empty-handed, explaining that several large carts were stacked near the ceiling with bags and nobody else in the area to help her look for mine. She gave me her name and promised to call me the following day and would arrange to put my bags on a plane to meet me in Paros.

By the time I boarded my SeaJets speed ferry around 1:30 PM Friday, July 8th, I still hadn’t heard from the women. So, on board the ferry, I emailed the tracing company to her attention in the subject line. Coincidentally or not, I received a call from her around 3 PM—she told me that she hadn’t found my bag and that the records showed that my two bags arrived in Athens on two different flights—one from Lufthansa and the other on Aegean. My AirTag tracker is in the bag from Lufthansa. And as of Friday afternoon, my tracker showed it moved from behind the security area to what I calculated to be the baggage claim area, where I realized it was in the company of hundreds of other bags waiting for someone to identify them and bring them home—to me.

 

A scene from the small mountain town Lefkas on the Island of Paros in the Cyclades in Greece.

For the next five days, I enjoyed time with my bother’s family and friends, each day hoping to hear that my bags would be arriving. But unfortunately, I hadn’t heard from anyone by Thursday, July 14th, at 10:30 AM, when I boarded my SeaJets ferry to return to Athens.

After a three-hour rough and tumble ferry ride, where passengers were not allowed to get out of their seats, let alone go to the outside viewing decks, I was in Athens again. Still no baggage.

I settled into my apartment and checked the “Find My” app, figuring I should go to the airport again and look for my bags myself. That’s when I realized that my bag had moved, for only the second time since they landed in Athens. What I discovered this time raised my heart rate and brought me to tears. My bag appears outside the terminal and on a plane on the tarmac.

While my blood boils and my trip hangs in the balance, I’m dumbfounded and angry.

This saga continues.

2 replies
  1. Rosemary Carstens
    Rosemary Carstens says:

    Hi Allan! What a saga–I heard that travel was only for the tough and flexible these days. You’ve convinced me about the air tags. There has to be some comfort in just being able to know where your stuff is. I hope it all works itself out soon. Is your bike ready to rock and roll? Where to next–keep us posted!

    Reply
    • allan
      allan says:

      Hi Rosemary, thanks for your note and reading the ongoing saga of my bags! Yes, AirTags are absolutely brilliant. And you’re right. Knowing the location of my bag is so much better than the thousands of other passengers who are in limbo just wondering where there bags are!

      Reply

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