So I was back from Antarctica and I stopped for a few hours in Italy. I was on my way to taking a connecting flight to Delhi. Being a creative type, I often get lost in my own thoughts and that’s what exactly happened at the Rome airport. I got busy chomping on a pizza at the airport and I forgot to pick my camera bag that had my Canon Mark 5 camera, GoPro 5 and my Apple Laptop. All these were worth almost 8 lakh rupees. Yes, in a state of absent-mindedness, I boarded the connecting flight to Delhi.
At the Delhi airport, I picked up my suitcase that had been booked directly and then kept waiting for the camera bag to appear on the conveyer belt. Nothing came.
As time passed, I became more and more desperate. I searched around in the baggage area but could not see my black camera bag. After an hour-long search, it started to dawn on me that I had actually lost it either at the Rio airport or the Rome airport. I just couldn’t figure out whether I had lost it on the flight or while I was waiting for the connecting flights at the airport itself. In my confusion, I landed at the lost baggage counter at the Indira Gandhi International Airport to make a lost baggage complaint. I told the lady about my lost camera bag. She gave me a form to fill. I described the lost bag and the items it contained with my number and other information like email and contact address. I gave them my flight details including timing and number. I was told that they would put a word out to Alitalia and wait for a response. They told that it would take a few days.
I kept calling the baggage loss department but I got no satisfactory response. Then I informed my travel curator Q Travels about my lost bag and sent out a few emails to them along with my flight details and scanned copies of my boarding pass. Luckily, I had kept my boarding passes for all my connecting flights. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to trace my bag. They tried calling and contacting the baggage loss department at the Delhi airport and I was told to file a complaint on the Alitalia website in the lost baggage section. I got to work and filled a lost baggage complaint on the website. I sent these links to the Q Travels staff who then advised me to go to the Delhi airport and check the lost baggage room. I duly did that but to my dismay, my camera bag was not there.
Already a week had passed and I had no news of my camera bag. My heart sank. But there was a ray of hope when I delved into my mind and realised that I had left the bag at the Rome airport or the Alitalia flight that landed in Rome from Rio. All the while, Q Travels did their best. They contacted Rome airport authorities directly and mailed my boarding pass to them.
Two weeks had passed with no answer. I was told that a word has been sent, a sort of lookout notice, for my black camera bag on the Alitalia network. I was told that it would take about 45 days before one can ensure that it is not possible to retrieve the lost baggage.
On the 20th day, I got a mail from Q Travels that my camera bag has been found in the lost baggage department at the Rome Airport. Huh! I took a sigh of relief. They even gave me the lost baggage number. But now the real game began. How the hell will I get the bag to India? As there is no mechanism to get a lost bag from Rome Airport to India, the airline takes no responsibility to courier your baggage at your doorstep or even to your city airport. They just refuse to do that. One way for me was to fly back to Rome and collect the baggage myself which would cost me Rs 1.2 lakhs. A better way was to find someone who was coming from Rome to India that could fetch my black camera. Luckily, we found a traveller who was ready to pick up the bag. All I had to do was to give a letter of consent with my passport copy, IDs and photographs to this person. Again, due to the efficiency of the Q Travels staff, we found a person who picked up my bag from the baggage room in Rome.
All the back and forth transfer of emails and documents took another two weeks. But there was one more twist in the tale. This gentleman was reaching Mumbai. Now, we had to find someone coming to Delhi who could get the bag to my city of residence. This took another ten days. Finally, after exactly two months of having lost my camera bag, it arrived in Delhi. The total cost for me was Rs 70,000. But it’s finally here with all my great Antarctica pictures and videos intact. Hurrah to Q Travels for a great job! It was like finding a needle in a haystack but we did it. It was all because we had the documents and the will to get the bag. I am delighted and thank everyone involved in this effort. God bless you all!
I will now get my camera bag insured for loss and theft during travel. At least that way, I will be safe. I am told that the lost baggage insurance only gives you compensation up to $3000 or so. I am on the lookout to insure all my equipment worth 8 lakhs. I will inform you when I do so and will give my readers the details. Till then, where there is a will, there is a way!