Frustration and Fun of China in One Delayed Suitcase

“So what do you like about China?”

I often receive this question and after eight years of living in China, then the past three years mostly away, the weak answer I still give is, “I love the action.” There is always something happening. The noise is the most overwhelming aspect of the culture, reflected in eardrum-shattering Peking Opera. When I lived here full-time some weekends I would close the apartment door Friday after work and not emerge until Monday morning.

On Tuesday, thanks to me taking a $800 bump and Delta not getting my checked bag over to the China Eastern codeshare from JFK in time, my suitcase went to Detroit while I went to Shanghai.

I filled out the China Eastern delayed luggage form, the guy asked “Have you been to Detroit today?” and we worked out the details. I pried RMB 400 compensation out of them only because I was on paid business class. The guy realized I had some experience of China because I made him write down the compensation on my form AND to put his own name on it, to which he and most people here are deeply reluctant.

China Eastern Delayed Luggage 2

So many tags for one trip

The next morning China Eastern sent me a text that my luggage was coming in from Detroit on DL181 and they would contact me for the delivery. When delta.com showed the luggage arrived at 2:59pm local time I tried calling the China Eastern luggage line and got the familiar busy signal. I could have persisted throughout the evening in trying to get through but I was busy and conditioned by time in China, so went to dinner, and took a jetlagged nap. I woke at 11 pm, an hour after their closing. and the busy signal was gone but no answer. I called Delta and the only help they offered was to provide their luggage line at Pudong Airport (PVG), which was already closed as the last flight had arrived at 9:30. The hope of the friendly text message “HERE SIR,HERE IS CHINA EASTERN, YOUR BAGGAGE WILL ON DL181, WHEN WE RECEIVE YOUR BAGGAGE WILL CALL YOU AS SOON AS POSSIBLE.THANKYOU.” was washed away by the frustration of silence since.

Then 1 am, long after I had given up, the hotel concierge called, “Sir, there is a man from airline here…”

China Eastern Delayed Luggage 1

1 am in the hotel lobby

In the lobby was a tired courier with my wearied suitcase and 400 RMB. How he was still out working at 1 am I don’t know. I am sure in most places nothing further would have happened until 9 am.

I am heading to the office with a colleagues’ wedding gift in tow, ready to start another exhausting, thrilling day.

Oh, and the email complaint I sent to Delta begging for help – no reply. That’s better than their typical response of ignoring the content of the email and giving an infuriating reply.

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  • Glad you got your bag!

  • Pamela T

    You are one hardy soul.

  • I can tell you that in NYC it is routine for late arriving or found luggage to be delivered during the wee hours, like 3 AM to a residence. I always understood one firm had a contract with most airlines and they did everything at night to avoid traffic.

  • JB

    I read this like a story of a Virgin Mary sighting or a monk levitation. Truly a miracle.

  • Lively

    You have a lot of patience.

  • Thank you for contacting Delta customer service over you case number #… (uh dang, you have a lot of numbers here). We at Delta so appreciate the frustration you must have been through with this delayed bag. We have forward your concerns to our team leaders in baggage. As a Delta DM & MM you are one of our most valued customers and as such we have posted 100 Skymiles to your account. Please wait 6-12 months for these miles to post as those guys in IT are really bad still but we are working on them too! 🙂 – Not_Delta_Air

  • @Charles – that does make sense for NYC, thanks for pointing that out, fortunately I had not have a 3 am NYC call yet. Even of business trips I often take the trains to avoid the maddening traffic.