In a bizarre set of events, the airline did not lose my bag. I repeat, the airline DID NOT lose my bag.

My bag came smoothly down the conveyor belt and it was gallantly picked up by the porter and loaded on to an already overladen trolley at the Delhi International Airport.

We (two of my colleagues and I) were travelling to NOIDA for an internal event and were carrying some material with us.

As usual all the luggage was checked in together and as usual the luggage tags together went on the boarding card of one of my colleagues.As usual the bags arrived and we made our way with a trolley and a porter towards the parking. Somewhere the trolley changed hands and the driver of our hired car took over and we continued our way to a crowded parking lot.

Loading the car was another challenge. Cars. People. Boxes. Bags. Chaos. People. Cars.I thought it wise to get out of the way and got into the car. Long story short: when we reached our office and I needed my bag as I was carrying some event material in it, it was not there.

New Delhi Airport to Noida is a good two-hour drive. In this day and age of technology, the first thought was to start making calls, visiting websites and sending emails.

No luck.

I realized that however great remote technology would be I needed to make physical contact with my overnighter (not to mention my toothbrush and night cream!) I decided to make my journey back to the airport to ‘find’ my bag. “I’m going to go get my bag back.” I announced with great confidence.

By this time colleagues both in Delhi and Mumbai knew about my missing bag. There were reactions of sympathy and horror (my wonderful administrative assistant), to genuine perplexity (how could it go missing?!) to loud guffaws (Hahahaha! This could only happen to you!).

But I was on my way to the airport I made more calls. One of them was to my son. This was a bag we had bought when his bag was lost during one of our international trips. “Mom! You have to get the bag back”. I agreed. A replacement for a lost bag should never ever get lost.  Next call to my daughter. “Oooh! I love that bag.” Oh well, we should never, never lose bags we love.

My determination to get the bag back had grown even stronger by the time I reached the airport. But it quickly started vanishing. I first went and checked with parking lot attendants. Then was ushered into an office. Typical Delhi hospitality followed. “Baithiye na” (take a seat), followed by summoning of a register. A manual entry had been made of ‘objects’ found that day.

A black bag was one of them!
Mine! I thought, this is it. I’ve got it back!
Black? The gruff security guy asked me.
Yes (that was me – hopeful)
Parking lot?
Yes (me- sheepish)
In the trolley?
Yes (me – embarrassed)
Small black purse.
No! (me – disappointed)
You’ll have to go to LP. The gentleman pronounced with a finality snapping the register shut.

So it was not my bag. I stood up, thanked him, he assigned yet another person to take me to LP (Lost Property, by the way) and off we went. A hundred rupee entry ticket took me indoors into the airport area and to the LP office.

A bored young girl sat at a computer. She had a disinterested look on her face. Around her lay what obviously was LP! Lost property. Suitcases, carryall, strolleys, laptop bags, jackets, prams (how do people forget prams or strollers?! Did they remember to take the baby?!) handbags, shawls, blankets, stuff toys… Phew! The things you forget because you are so eager to get off a flight!

But back to the disinterested.

She gave me a cursory look, decided I was not LP and looked askance at me.I told her I had lost my bag. (I remember wording it well so none of the carelessness of having lost it in the parking lot came up!)

She glanced at the disarray around her. Then asked me

“Can you see it here? “.
I said no.
“Then it’s not here”, she said in a toneless voice.
I persisted. I told her that it may have been ‘left behind’ in the parking lot. She looked up desultorily.
“Then it should be with the CISF”.
“No they don’t have it. I checked”.  I persisted some more.

I thought she would lose her temper but she did not. I think among the lost baggage pieces somewhere she had lost her soul. At least that’s what it looked like. I gave up.Disheartened I walked out of that dismal place. I was to now wait for my colleage PA to reach Delhi. I would wait for her arrival and we’d go back to the office and then to the hotel – sans bag, sans toothbrush!

There was a coffee shop exactly opposite arrivals. Coffee and waiting go well together. Plus it would be help me think next steps. So armed with an Americano with milk on the side, I sat on one of the tables and continued my saga of calling various ‘authorities’.

I asked my credit card company whether they could help. Was the ticket booked on that card? No. They couldn’t help.
I asked my travel agent. Was there insurance on the travel? No. They couldn’t help.
I sat at the airport and called the airport again. Had they found my bag. No. They couldn’t help.

Meanwhile concerned colleagues were looking at other aspects. Like where I had to go shop for a day’s worth of clothes. Normally shopping in Delhi would have excited me. I like shopping but not when I forced to. Desultorily I responded to advice on the phone and Whatsapp.

The day was almost done. And I had to find a place where I could go and shop for an overnight stay before 8. (Toothbrush, remember?) Okay. I thought. I’ll do it.

And then the Whatsapp message flashed: “They found your bag!  Someone will call you in the next five minutes.
What?! Yessss!
In 3 minutes I get a call. It’s someone from Jet Airways. He says the bag has been identified and could I tell him where I was at the airport. I asked him if he was at Lost and Found and that I could come there.
No Ma’am, I‘ll come and get you.

He came to the coffee shop, introduced himself and we walked back to the same old dismal place. If it was looking brighter now, it was probably me. The girl still had that faraway lost-soul look on her face.

There it was! Never have I been so happy to see a much-used strolley at the airport! My toothbrush!  I thought fondly! My toothbrush is back! Not sure why I thought this but I guess one develops a bond with a toothbrush that has seen many travel days and nights with you.

To the credit of the ‘Lost Girl’, the bag had been sent by the CISF who found a Jet Airways tag on it and insisted it belonged to Jet Airways even though it was found at the parking lot. She called the Jet Airways person who instead of arguing about right and wrong, decided to reunite the bag with its rightful Jet Airways owner.

Now that is customer-centricity. The bag had a Jet Airways tag and they thought it was their responsibility to take charge.

Of course with three of us travelling together the baggage tags had been marked to a colleague who the airline called, who then Whatsapped me. Having identified my bag, shared the baggage tag and the boarding card, and signed receipt oBlackbag1f the goods, I was out of there in a few minutes. Thanks to an efficient Jet Airways person. And a great customer-centric culture.

Three things stood out for me –and it may sound repetitive but it’s important.

  1. The customer-centricity of Jet Airways – this young gentleman said if the bag had a Jet Airways tag – it was their responsibility.
  2. The lack of responsibility to the ones who actually found the bag
  3. The going out of the way again for Jet Airways – the young man actually came to the coffee shop to find me, take me to the Lost and Found, waited patiently while all the necessary details were taken care of and escorted me out. Not sure whether ALL of it was in his call of duty, but young man, thank you, it was much appreciated.

 As for me, the bag was found and my colleague from Mumbai had landed, and soon we trundled back to Noida (with me having spent 6 hours that day on the Delhi-Noida circuit). Of course, with my toothbrush, and a pleasant feeling aboutJet Airways!