Welcome to flying domestic in the UK and we lost your luggage…

Our first post on this Europe trip has a happy ending, but didn’t look that way to begin with!

We had a good flight on Singapore Airlines to Singapore, but the SQ flight to the UK was delayed 90 minutes or so for technical reasons (and yes, we were waiting on the plane!). We made up some time, arriving about 40 minutes late at Heathrow Terminal 3, collected our bags and dashed off to our connection in Terminal 1 on BMIBaby to Leeds Bradford airport in the north of England.

Note: Immigration was quick for us, my UK passport allowed my wife Helen (Australian passport) to come with me through the UK/EU immigration gate.

Customs was a walk-through. Getting from Terminal 3 to 1 is a 10-15 minute trolley push. When you come off the last travelator you have to double back for about twenty metres to find the trolley route to the Terminal – it’s a bit of a push uphill! You arrive in the arrivals hall, so for departures take the lift on the left up one floor.

BMIBaby uses e-tickets, you go to one of the many machines at their check-in area and follow the prompts. We identified ourselves by a Kris Flyer frequent flyer card (you’re asked to put in your frequent flyer memberships when you make the booking, or we could have used the credit card used to make the booking) and the tickets were printed out. Then we dropped off our check-in bags at the counter and continued to Security.

Note: Security for UK flights is a bit all over the place at the moment. There are instructions on the Heathrow and Airline sites, but not all personnel on the ground seem to be up to speed. For example, you can theoretically take a lipstick on board but after the first security check a woman checking the boarding passes was telling everyone that no cosmetics of any kind were allowed, much to the distress of a few ladies. Some airline crew personnel who were passing told us that a lipstick was permissible, and  I might add that at the next security x-ray check Helen had no problem with her eyeshadow.

The BMIBaby 1 hour flight to Leeds Bradford was not crowded and the cabin crew pleasant; it was also the first airline I have travelled on where I could have bought a toasted (fried) bacon sandwich “with Heinz Tomato Ketchup” as a snack!

Unfortunately, the airline managed to lose my suitcase, something which I was blithely informed by a unconcerned Leeds BMI baggage desk operator “happened all the time”. After filliing out a form  I was told that if I did not know the postcode of the address where I would be staying in the UK, they couldn’t deliver my bag if they found it as “the courier firm needs the postcode”. I pointed out that I had given them the full street address, but this was apparently inadequate, and they did not appear to be able to look it up!

We took a taxi to my 90 year old mother’s address in Baildon, where a phone call to the supplied BMI number showed that they had a missing bag file but no information.

But all was not lost! I had discovered that I’d dropped my glasses case somewhere, and rang up Singapore Airline’s Kris Flyer service (sourced from their internet site) who supplied me with the phone number of the Heathrow office. My call was answered by James Wood, their customer services officer, who on hearing my name, flight and loss asked me if I had been sitting around row 60 and whether I has lost a black Calvin Klein case with glasses inside – he had them in front of him! I refused his offer to post them and arranged to pick them up when we flew down on Monday.

Now here’s where the SQ service really matched their reputation: I mentioned in passing that I’d lost a suitcase and James offered to call BMI to see if they had any news. Five minutes later he phoned me back to tell me that BMI had it at Heathrow and would put it on the flight arriving at 6:10 pm; he suggested I call them at the airport after it arrived to check. The contrast with the lack of concern showed by the BMI operative was noticeable.

To be continued…

Tony Page

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