Etihad Forgot to Load My Bag on Yesterday’s Inaugural Flight

Nov 24, 2015

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Update: Etihad’s response has been above and beyond! Representatives reached out right away and arranged to purchase replacement clothes for me… from Armani in Dubai! Additionally, rather than providing compensation to me directly, Etihad is donating flights to PeaceJam, a remarkable organization I work with in Africa.

As you’re probably now aware (if you follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), last night I flew The Residence on Etihad’s inaugural A380 flight from JFK to Abu Dhabi. It was a fantastic experience overall, but I was a bit shocked to learn that my carry-on bag never made it on the flight, especially given the $32,000 one-way fare. Here’s what happened…

To start the day off, Etihad sent two cars to pick me up — one for me and one for my single rollaboard. After our chauffeur pulled up at JFK, I received an airport welcome greater than anyone could imagine; there were SEVEN Etihad employees waiting for me, including one hold my boarding pass in a fancy gold sleeve — no check-in at a desk necessary. An agent grabbed my rolling carry-on explaining they would take care of everything from this point on and we were on our way through security and to the lounge. I didn’t keep an eye on my carry-on after that, though with an army of escorts to keep track of my stuff, that was entirely fine with me. Fortunately, the camera equipment made it on the A380 (also carried by Etihad employees as my photographer was shooting the walk through the airport) and I had my laptop and necessities in a tote.

Walking through JFK with my Etihad escorts.
Walking through JFK with my Etihad escorts.

During the flight I wanted to change into my gym shorts (I was a little hot in Etihad’s pajamas), so I asked my fantastic butler Eren to grab my bag and he said that it was checked into the hold of the airplane. Now I was a little bit concerned, since I never got a baggage ticket and the bag was clearly carry-on size. I assumed it was put in a storage area since the A380 doesn’t have overhead storage bins in first class. I told him not to worry about it and didn’t think more about it.

After we landed and were escorted through immigration they asked if I have a bag and I said I do, so we went into the lounge to wait for the bag. After waiting for a while, an agent came up to ask for my baggage claim ticket — of course I never got one, since I only had the carry-on bag. She came back a few minutes later and said that they’re searching the entire plane, but it’s likely that the bag was left behind at JFK — nearly 7,000 miles away.

Enjoying a glass of Champagne in my A380 Residence.
Enjoying a glass of Champagne in my A380 Residence.

Of course, all of my clothes are in the bag and I’m only in Dubai for a night for an important meeting, before heading back home for Thanksgiving and to film an experience on another ME3 carrier. Checked bags get misplaced all the time, but I’m not sure how they missed my carry-on in the JFK lounge after we left (I was the only Residence passenger who used that portion of the lounge) and how they didn’t realize it when they closed the lounge.

Etihad has graciously agreed to reimburse me (no, I’m not going to buy fancy designer clothes) and they’ve gone above and beyond to have my hotel concierge do the shopping for me so I don’t have to. I’m not planning to ask for any additional compensation (or a driver to help me get around while I shop, which the airline even offered to provide). I just asked for the bag to be sent back to my apartment in New York, where we’ll be reunited in a couple of days.

Since I paid for the ticket (as per TPG policy), I have the freedom to report the good with the bad, and it’s my responsibility to do so. The entire Etihad team has been fantastic, from the ground staff at both airports to my fabulous butler Eren, and I really don’t want to throw anyone under the (Air)bus here. I think it was just a case of there being too many cooks in the kitchen, and no one person specifically responsible for my carry-on. Stay tuned for a post on some of the (many) positive experiences I’ve had in the past 24 hours, coming to TPG later today!

Moral of the story? Even if you pay $32,000 for a one-way super-first-class ticket, things can still go wrong. And when they do, you can’t stress about it. I’m super fortunate to have flown the Residence and I’m excited to share some fun video clips over the next week and a full, detailed review.

Should I have been less trusting with the bags and double-checked to make sure they were all accounted for? 

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