Welcome Home

We are back in Miami. The return journey was notable for its length, and especially for the ineptitude of baggage handling at MIA on our flight from Chicago. I'm used to the idea that you never get a bag off a plane in less than 29 minutes — the airport boasts that 95% of flights get their first bag within 30 minutes — but 50 minutes? For a domestic flight? On a weekday evening?

Someone did manage to get three or four bags off our flight about 35 minutes after we landed — and I bet they log it as within 30 minutes — but the fact is that not one more bag came off until about 50 minutes after the flight landed, so pretty much the entire plane's passengers were there (mostly tourists from the look of them) getting more and more steamed in the hot, crowded, low ceilinged baggage claim area around carousel 24.

MIA is festooned with signs bragging that it was selected as the 'airport of the year' last year.

About the 45 minute mark I went to the nearby baggage handling desk to ask if they had a complaint form. The man looked at me as if I was insane, or speaking a language he never heard of. Once that failed to drive me off, he started tapping on his computer screen. No, they don't have complaint forms, but there's a long-distance number you can call 24/7 or a PO Box you can write to. The lady behind me in the line said she was there for the same reason – to find out what they'd done with our flight's bags.

I was afraid I might know what was going on: could it be that the ramp rats were back? (In the past MIA has been plagued with a baggage theft ring.)

Then again, maybe it was the MIA TSA. They won an award too.

In the end, the bags appeared, and we dragged ourselves home.

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14 Responses to Welcome Home

  1. Tell me about it. I got back from Texas a few months ago. I had one bag and it took 45 minutes before I got it. No one can ever explain why it takes so long either.

  2. eric says:

    A good reminder of why I’m driving to SEALS instead of flying. My “break-even” point for driving v. flying gets longer with each trip.

  3. home says:

    I love Miami man, MIA are always to my bags, hard luck for you

  4. Blind Mind says:

    Well, gathering the info youve shared I know you flew American. For some reason, their baggage personnel are the absolute worst. 45 minutes is about the average time there. I nearly crapped myself one time when bags started to come out right as I got to baggage claim. Then I remembered there was an international connection that they had to make so thats probably why the bags came quick. In the rare instances when I fly Delta or USAirways out of MIA, the bags take 1/2 the time.

  5. janet napolitano says:

    great story.

    the idea that MIA is “airport of the year” is nearly as unsettling and ridiculous as sarah palin being a chief executive.

    and its interesting you say that when you went to the desk the man looked at you as if you were insane or speaking a language he had never heard. because to him, you probably were. i can just imagine an english speaking law professor approaching a likely non-english speaking airport employee. not to knock airport employees, but if the level of attentiveness and service is any indication, that conversation must have had one of the largest disparities in intellect of all time.

  6. michael says:

    His English seemed fine to me. The phrase, “Do you have a complaint form, please?” is not one that I would have thought required advance degrees to parse, but maybe I’ve been in the ivory tower too long.

  7. fidel says:

    it is the de facto capital of latin america.

  8. Adam says:

    I have a good idea, let’s put carpet in the hot humid terminals of our airport!

  9. PI guy says:

    Carpet is not such a bad idea. Limits slip and fall possibilities as long as the carpet is properly installed.

  10. howard says:

    The Bole airport in Addis Ababa is much more pleasant to travel through than MIA. MIA is one of the worst anywhere, well maybe not as bad as Kinshasa, but I still hate it.

  11. mike says:

    I haven’t been through Kinsasha airport (nor even Bole in Addis) but in all my travels and many, many airports, MIA holds the record as ‘worst airport, ever’. Late arriving international flights from Latin America almost guarantee a missed connection and and extra night away due to baggage wait and then the interminable TSA line.

    Delta gets my business through Atlanta (!) as a preference — just goes to show how screwed up MIA is.

  12. John Flood says:

    Didn’t something like this happen to you last year?

  13. michael says:

    Last year was much worse: lost luggage on the outbound (Travel Stories), and then on the way back Delta Airlines Canceled Three of Our Four Tickets for No Discernable Reason.

    So maybe I should be grateful?

  14. joe says:

    So maybe I should be grateful?

    Yeah, Michael, you should be grateful.

    You should be grateful that a crazed TSA skymarshal —hyped on steroids— —bugeyed on methamphetamine— didn’t throw you off the plane at 30,000 feet over Georgia.

    You should be grateful.

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