St. Anthony or St. Jude?

Alaska Airlines lost one of our bags on the way to Fort Lauderdale (FLL).  The agent in FLL said it would be on the next plane and we should get it later that evening.  That evening they called to tell us it had arrived, and they had turned it over to “Byron,” a driver who would deliver it to the hotel by 3 AM.  Come morning no bag.  “Byron” got it to the hotel by 3 PM (After it had been in FLL for 22 hours) but we were gone.  On the day of departure, I spent hours on the phone with Alaska Airlines trying to make sure they got it to the ship before it sailed sometime around 6.  It didn’t happen.  Apparently “Byron” does not answer his phone.  A series of bag sighting reports followed.  It had been shipped to Montego Bay, but Zuiderdam was in Falmouth, missed connection.  It was shipped to Panama City, it didn’t show up.  It was definitely in Tahiti via Jet Blue according to the reports we got.  But Jet Blue doesn’t fly to Tahiti. But, but the port agent has it!  Oh, wrong bag, sorry.

Friends who saw me on formal night wearing Crocs, (Shoes are in the lost bag, along with Suzi’ summer clothes.) offered suggestions.  Two Catholic friends suggested we pray to St. Anthony:

              St. Antony, St. Anthony, please look around

              I’ve lost my luggage and it must be found.

              Thank you, St Anthony.

One friend said a $5 offering would help. So I looked up the St. Anthony chapel in Panama City but it was closed, locked up tight for the holiday, so I gave money to deserving looking beggars. It didn’t work.

“But you need to have faith, St. Anthony never fails.” 

“No” replied another friend, “This is beyond St Anthony, try St. Jude” (The Patron Saint of Lost Causes.)

In Tahiti I went to the cathedral, put $5 in the alms box and lit two candles, one for each Saint.  By the way, the cathedral in Tahiti has a holy water vending machine. I have never seen that before but in the age of COVID it makes sense, no hands distribution.  (It works with a foot pedal.)

The prayer may have worked, the next morning in Moorea, while I was quarantined because of COVID, I get a call from Alaska Airlines in Salt Lake City saying they found a bag with the destination tags ripped off, but it had a tag with my phone number.  She asked us to describe the bag.  Bingo!  No idea how it ended up in Salt Lake from Jamacia, Panama or wherever.   The only problem is that the Salt Lake agent says Alaska Airlines does not ship bags internationally, they will either send it to FLL or to Sitka.  HAL says this is just plain malarky.  “As a member of One World Alliance you can ship a bag virtually anywhere.”  Suzi spent 45 minutes at the front desk calling Alaska Airlines, with the backing of HAL, trying to get the airline to do the right thing.  She and Vincent at the front desk were talking to Alaska Airlines headquarters in Seattle who had no idea that the bag was in Salt Lake City “Your bag shouldn’t be there.”  Alaska did offer us 2500 airline miles.  I would rather have a pair of shoes.

The evening after I had walked by the Basilica of St. Anthony in Tonga and said a silent prayer  (I had never before noticed how much St. Anthony gets around) we got word that our bag was back in Fort Lauderdale.  Since there are no Alaska Air flights from Salt Lake to Fort Lauderdale no one has any idea how it got there.  Alaska Fort Lauderdale left a voice message.  They have limited hours, when the planes are in, so I looked at my watch, made calculations and called from the high seas.  I got through to Joe who told me they had TWO of my bags.  “But only one is missing.” 

“But we have two.” 

I said “McClear is not a common name how can there be two McClears on Alaska with lost bags?” 

Joe said “I know. But that name on the tag says (It really gets weird here) ‘Janice McClear.’”  My Aunt Janice passed away in the first wave of COVID in 2020.  The last time she flew on Alaska Airlines, I believe, was in 1995 for Kevin’s High School Graduation.  Joe described the bag, and it sounded like something Aunt Janice would like, especially the colors, but I doubt she would have had a backpack.  It reminded me of those news stories about a letter mailed a century before finally getting delivered.  “Patriarch of Alexandria, this is Cairo Post, we have an old letter addressed to you from someone named Paul.  It must have gotten lost.”  That could rip open the whole Canon. 

I told Joe we only wanted one bag.  Joe said that they could not ship the bag to Auckland or Sydney with any hope of us ever seeing it.  “We don’t have routes or staff there.” I asked about the greatly touted One World Alliance. 

“You have trusted partners that fly to Sydney or Auckland.” 

“Yes but it is not us.  We cannot guarantee delivery if it is not us.  We can’t guarantee that anyone would take it through customs.” 

“I think Qantas can handle it in Austraila.”

“We can’t be sure.”

“You’re saying you don’t trust your ‘trusted’ airline partners?”

“Well, yes, we have contracts but…”

“Your contracts aren’t enforceable….”

“Look, I’m just trying to be transparent, (that seems to be a big corporate thing these days) I think if we send it to Sydney, you will never see it again.”

I stopped being kind and told him exactly what I thought of the One World Alliance and asked why Alaska would partner with airlines they didn’t trust to deliver a bag. (Alaska is partnered with American, possibly the shi**@#st mainline carrier in America so I have to reluctantly admit that Joe was probably right.)

I don’t like being unkind but I was completely frustrated after a month of playing “Where in the world is Rich and Suzi’s bag.”  Rather than having it escalate further I handed my phone to Suzi.  Bottom line; Alaska Airlines will ship the bag to Sitka.  We will buy some new clothes.  They may or may not reimburse us for them.  “That’s up to central baggage, not my call” Joe says.   They certainly will not reimburse us for our aggravation or the cost of the phone call from a ship.  Joe was busy touting the company line but he was also being honest with us and “according to my 20 years’ experience (he kept repeating that) you will not see your bag if we entrust it to someone else, look what happened with Byron.” 

We are on speaker so I yell out; “Replace Byron!”

“We’re working on it, believe me.”

So, Joe wins, we lose.  I don’t know if Alaska Airlines really cares but I think that Joe did and was giving us his best advice.  HAL’s customer service rep seemed disappointed in us for telling them to ship the bag to Sitka, I think she was all in on the battle, but she wasn’t on the phone with Joe for 40 minutes.

So, we will not get out bag during the trip.  Friends will pick it up in Sitka.  I doubt Alaska Airlines in Sitka wants to sit on our bag for three and a half months.   I hope Suzi, who has no summer cloths will replace them, she seems beyond caring now that we are through the hottest part of the cruise.  I will buy a pair of shorts, if I can find one that fits.  First World problems.

Good-by Anthony.  Hey Jude!

9 thoughts on “St. Anthony or St. Jude?

  1. OMG! Just read your blog to hubby! He say our trip to Novascotia from Manitoba this fall will only be with a carry on and will buy clothes once there! Thanks for your great posts! Hope you enjoyed 2022 Folk festival. Maybe will connect sometime.

  2. I’m sorry you had to go through all that. That’s why in my carry on I always carry a bathing suit one pair of pants, shorts and a couple of tops just in case. You just can’t count on any airline to get your luggage to you nowadays. Put it all behind you and enjoy the rest of your cruise. Looking forward to your pictures

  3. Took four months for an expedited package to get from Sydney to Wellington from now on I pray to St Air Tags

  4. After a recent entanglement with Delta and Hawaiian, I’ve concluded airline alliances are strictly marketing gimmicks.

  5. Cuz,

    I blame Vatican II.

    St. Anthony was the saint to pray to in order to find your luggage. With all due respect to you and Suzi, St. Jude takes care of much more important things to be bothered with your lost luggage; and besides, a general rule is that the specific takes precedence over the general. Things lost is the specific remit of St. Anthony. St. Anthony obviously delivered: they found your luggage. However, he ain’t no bellhop. Therefore, another saint must be prayed to for the return of your luggage.

    Here is where I blame Vatican II. The obvious choice is the patron saint of travelers. That is St. Christopher. Or, more accurately, was. The Church de-canonized him in 1965 or thereabouts on the flimsy pretext that he never existed. Well, if that’s going to be the standard, what about the Big Boy Himself? If they did that, however, then there would be no reason for the Church itself, and the whole shebang is out of business. So the powerful get protected while some poor schlub who carried Christ on his shoulders for over 1900 years gets shit-canned.

    The only thing I can suggest is that you and Suzi sacrifice a wombat to Mercury, Messenger of the Gods.

  6. Hi Cuz,

    I was raised the wayward Protestant, as you know, and I rely on my Catholic friends to advise me on which Saint to consult.

    I should have thought of Christopher. When I was 14, in 1961 someone, perhaps your mother, gave me a St. Christopher medal to wear on my trip to Ireland with my grandfather. On one side it had the image of the saint, on the other it said “Please all a Priest.” Even in 1961, before Vatican II confidence in Christopher was ebbing.

    I wore it because I though that aside from Patrick and Brigid, Christopher knew Ireland best. We got home safely so it must have worked. When I started to learn to drive my mother hung it on the rear view mirror, I wonder what THAT said.

    Take Care and be well Cuz,


  7. The media, somehow, needs to get wind of the story it’s incredible and I can’t even believe what has happened to your bag. Absolutely unacceptable and beyond comprehension. I’m gob smacked.

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