Calgary family tracks lost luggage on meandering adventures
For more than a month, Calgarians Mycroft and Irina Schwartz have been tracking their lost suitcase – from Cancun Airport to various resorts along the Riviera Maya and finally to a hotel in Fort McMurray – after it failed to reach them and their daughter when they flew WestJet to Puerto Vallarta in December.
The location updates are possible because they used Apple AirTags — small devices that attach to keys or slip into wallets, backpacks, and other items so they can be found if lost.
In this case, word seems to be getting around about the Calgarians’ missing suitcase.
“It has some interesting sights to see, I suppose,” Mycroft Schwartz said. “So that certainly had a humorous aspect.”
But Schwartz says the humor waned after repeated phone calls, online forms and emails to WestJet yielded no results.
“Although we have information for them that might be useful in locating our trunk, and possibly other people who were on the same boat… our information did not appear to be able to use,” Schwartz said.
In an email, a WestJet spokeswoman said most of the baggage lost over the holidays has now been delivered to the appropriate guests, but staff are still trying to resolve any outstanding claims.
“The guest has informed their claims agent where the AirTag indicates the bag to be found, and the agent is investigating any clues as to the bag’s location,” the Calgary-based airline said.
But WestJet says AirTags are relatively new and they’re still trying to learn the technology.
And the airline said sometimes their luggage tags detach from the bag itself, making it difficult to identify and match a guest. As such, they recommend travelers to always include their full name and contact information in their luggage, which this couple did.
Tour of North America
Schwartz says as they departed on their WestJet direct flight from Calgary to Puerto Vallarta on Dec. 30, they had a feeling something was wrong.
While sitting on the tarmac, the couple checked the location of their three suitcases and noticed that one of them was out on its own.
“I thought it was still at the airport. Maybe they loaded a few more bags. But I couldn’t confirm that because we had to switch to airplane mode to take off.”
Schwartz says when they got to Mexico, only two of their suitcases ended up with them.
A few hours later, he tracked his missing suitcase to Cancun Airport – more than 2,000 kilometers east of Puerto Vallarta – and reported it missing via WestJet’s online portal.
From there he regularly checked his medium-sized trolley case. He says he also made regular calls to WestJet.
“In all our communication we have made it very clear where we found the AirTag and presumably the luggage is there.”
According to Schwartz’s app, the suitcase stayed in Cancun for a week. It then went to Playa Del Carmen, a resort town in the Riviera Maya, where it had apparently visited a few hotels. It then briefly returned to Cancun before proceeding to Calgary International Airport.
Schwartz says that brought a little hope until he realized it was back at Cancun airport the next day.
Then we went to Isla Mujeres off the coast of Cancun for almost two weeks.
His trunk then returned to Cancun for a day before heading back to Canada, this time to Fort McMurray.
“I’m frustrated. I’m tired. I went as far as calling the Fort McMurray hotel,” Irina Schwartz said. “But apparently it has moved (again).”
Mycroft Schwartz says that since he filed an official claim for lost luggage, he’s had more success convincing staff to try to locate it based on the locations pinged.
But as far as he knows, no one from WestJet has gone to the Fort McMurray Hotel.
Company takes on cases
Jacob Charbonneau is co-founder and director of Flight Claim, which handles passenger cases and is fighting with the airline for 25 percent of the compensation awarded. He says more and more cases are involving this type of technology.
Charbonneau says while you may know where your bag is, there’s no guarantee the airline will get it back.
“We’ve seen that a couple of times. One of the customers knew the luggage was on the tarmac, but they couldn’t get the airline to pick it up,” he said.
But in some cases, he says, travelers have been able to track their own lost luggage in their home terminal using AirTags.
Schwartz says he still doesn’t know what happened to his missing suitcase.
As compensation, WestJet approved the maximum amount for lost baggage: approximately US$2,300.
Schwartz was told the airline will continue to search for his bag for 90 days from his travel date before the claim is closed.