To recap my worldly bag's itinerary:
On July 4, I flew from Washington National (DCA) to San Francisco (SFO). I was supposed to travel on to Beijing (PEK, BTW), but fell ill on the plane (long story). As soon as I disembarked, I, the ever responsible traveler, alerted the gate agent of my condition and he said the bag would be pulled from the Beijing flight.
After taking an hour to schlep over to the SFO Travel Clinic, which was closed for the holiday, I wandered down to United Baggage Claim's "Help" Desk. One agent was manning the desk. The line had about four people ahead of me. Twenty minutes later, the line was down to one person in front of me. Unfortunately, that person shanghai'ed the staffer and took her away for 40 minutes. No replacement came as the line behind me grew steadily. Finally, after an hour, I was attended to, and told my bag was somewhere at SFO.
I was at the airport another hour (I arrived at 11:00; my flight to Beijing was to leave at noon; it was now 2:00). I went back to the service desk, where a manager insisted the bag was in the airport and in fact, on its way to the service desk at that very moment. Half an hour later, it still didn't arrive, so I left with a friend who rescued me from the airport.
On the morning of July 5, I called United Baggage Claim and learned the bag was in Beijing. How it got to Beijing, unless it was never pulled from the noon flight the day before, is a mystery (and remember, it was reportedly in San Francisco when the flight to Beijing took off). I requested its return to San Francisco.
On the morning of July 6, the bag was still in Beijing. At that point, with a glimmer of hope that I might actually get to Beijing, I asked United to hold the bag in China until further notice.
On the evening of July 6, pretty sure I would not be flying to China, I called again. Agents told me the bag was last reported in Washington, DC at DCA on July 5. Imagine my confusion.
On the morning of July 7, definite I would not fly to China, I checked on the bag and it was still said to be somewhere in Washington, DC. This, of course, didn't make sense because it had been reported both in San Francisco and Beijing since July 5.
As my plane landed at Washington Dulles (IAD) at 10:30 PM on July 7, I figured that I might as well check at United Baggage Claim at the airport since I was there (feeling oh-so-lovely, BTW). The guy there said the bag was in Beijing. He gave me a non-toll-free number for United Help in Houston, saying the people staffing that number were more likely to provide decent service. HA!
At 11:30 PM on July 7 in the cab going home, I called said number. The woman said the bag was on a plane flying to Washington, DC.
On July 8, the bag was still in Bejing. It then went MIA for a few days.
On the afternoon of July 10, the bag was reported to be at DCA in Washington. It was to be delivered to my house within hours.
On July 11, the bag was reportedly on a flight to Washington IAD. And as there are no flights from IAD to DCA (given that the two airports are a mere 20 miles apart), it was apparent the bag was never at DCA the day before....nor, for that matter on July 5 or 6.
On the morning of July 12, the bag was reported at Dulles.
4:00 PM, July 12: Home Sweet Home.
Now, if only I were a singer, I could actually make lemonade out of this lemon, like this guy did. Granted, my guitar wasn't broken (although I am sure it would have been if I have one in the suitcase), but my story is certainly worthy of a country song. If any songwriters would like to tackle it with me, I'm up for the ride.