PSA: Don’t Wait At The Wrong Baggage Claim Belt

PSA: Don’t Wait At The Wrong Baggage Claim Belt

33

Most days I consider myself to be a travel expert. May 1, 2022, was not one of those days. Despite enjoying a fabulous flight in Qatar Airways’ 777 first class, the rest of our travel day wasn’t exactly smooth. I wrote about what happened in the Maldives, where we missed our flight due to my confusion over Qatar’s entry requirements. Now let me tell you what happened after the flight…

An endless wait at Qatar Airways baggage claim

While we usually only travel with carry-ons, we decided to check a bag for our trip to the Maldives. Why? Well, we were there for 11 days, and we wanted to bring a lot of sunscreen, given how much resorts often charge for that (not to mention they often don’t have the SPF we’re looking for, they may not have sunscreen specifically for your face, etc.). Since we were gone for over two weeks in total, it was also nice to be able to pack extra underwear, socks, etc.

Our Male to Doha flight arrived around 11:30PM. Immigration went off without a hitch, and within minutes we were at baggage claim. We looked at the baggage claim board, and saw that the bags for QR677 from Male would be arriving at belt number four. That’s where we headed.

Doha Hamad Airport baggage claim belt

The monitor said “Bags En Route,” so we waited… and waited… and waited… and waited. Before we knew it, it was approaching 2AM, and we had been waiting for 90 minutes.

Qatar Airways baggage claim board

At this point we were wondering if our bags were lost, or what exactly was going on. The way I viewed it:

  • I regularly wait over 45 minutes at American Airlines baggage claim
  • It was the last night of Ramadan, so perhaps they weren’t well staffed
  • Our plane was parked really far from the terminal, and Doha is all about connecting traffic, so I imagined that maybe the lowest priority was getting bags for those terminating in Doha
  • The monitor kept showing “Bags En Route” rather than “Bags on Belt” or “Last Bag,” suggesting that bags were still coming

Let me also note that I wasn’t totally with it at this point. It was the middle of the night, so we were really tired, and we had also napped on the flight. I’m a terrible napper, and after I take a nap it can take me a long time to actually be fully awake and functional again.

After waiting at the baggage claim belt for 90 minutes, we decided to go to the baggage office to see what was going on.

A surprising visit to the baggage office

We went to the baggage claim office and explained we had been waiting at the belt for 90 minutes and our bags hadn’t arrived. I presented our boarding passes, and after the Qatar Airways representative reviewed them, the conversation went something like this:

Employee: “My colleague just took your bags from the belt and put them in luggage storage because they weren’t claimed.”
Me: “Sorry, what? We’ve been waiting at baggage claim four since the flight arrived.”
Employee: “Your bags arrived at baggage claim nine.”
Me: “But… the board said the Male flight was at belt four.”
Employee: “That was QR677, you were on QR673.”

OOPS.

Okay, so there’s absolutely no defense here, I’m a total idiot. However, I’m sure some can appreciate that two flights arriving 20 minutes apart from the same destination with flight numbers that are nearly identical can be confusing, especially if you just woke up from a nap after enjoying generous servings of Krug. 😉

Also, in fairness:

  • Both Ford and I looked carefully at the board when we arrived at baggage claim, and we both swear we only saw one Male flight listed (perhaps we were wrong?)
  • I guess I should feel even worse for those on QR677, because even after 90 minutes the flight still showed as “Bags En Route,” which also makes me wonder what was going on there

Look, I know y’all come to OMAAT for travel tips, so I’m really thrilled that more than 14 years into blogging I can share useful tips, like… go to the correct baggage claim belt. May 1 definitely won’t go down as my proudest day in terms of travel skills.

Bottom line

When you check a bag, your bag arrives at a carousel after the flight. In order to retrieve your bag, you have to go to the carousel for the flight you arrived on. As it turns out, your bag won’t arrive at a carousel designated for another flight.

Conversations (33)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. iamhere Guest

    If two flights from the same place on the same airline arrive in such a close time then they should have had them on the same belt. I am surprised you are the only one to make that mistake.

  2. Santos Guest

    This is why I prefer Air India's approach. You land at your destination and find out the ramp handlers at BOM didn't load your luggage because they got bribed to load extra cargo off the books. Then you join a scrum of people trying to all tell one disinterested employee their hotel contact info for when the bags arrive in "1 or 2 days".

  3. RetiredATLATC Diamond

    Sorry, 90 minutes! You must have been zonked out.

  4. mc Guest

    i flew lufthansa first to miami a few weeks ago and was waiting forever for my luggage. turns out all the hon-tagged bags (hon&f) were already taken off the belt and stood right behind me.. i also had quite a bit of champagne on the flight so that might have contributed to the confusion

  5. Carrie Member

    Maybe more airports should adopt the Mykonos system - hand appears through a hole in the wall and a finger signals left or right ...... absolutely no confusion!

  6. Robert Guest

    Maybe the earlier flight was the only one on the board when you looked. Def a mistake but one that all of us could make. Just the other day i looked at what i thought was the baggage claim board and was confused where bag claim A4 was... Then i realized it was a departures board. We all do silly things sometimes

  7. Jay Guest

    your "bottom line" section for this article is amazing. and hilarious. haha

  8. DENDAVE Member

    I was once flying from Lofoten back to Oslo on Norwegian and when we arrived waited until the baggage claim stopped and yet no bags. We were flying from a small airport and the only other flight was a SAS flight also to Oslo at around the same time. I figured they used the same ground crew and went to find that baggage claim. Sure enough, our bags were the last ones going around. So,...

    I was once flying from Lofoten back to Oslo on Norwegian and when we arrived waited until the baggage claim stopped and yet no bags. We were flying from a small airport and the only other flight was a SAS flight also to Oslo at around the same time. I figured they used the same ground crew and went to find that baggage claim. Sure enough, our bags were the last ones going around. So, not only did our bags come in on a different flight, but an altogether different airline.

  9. SubwayNut Guest

    How about the baggage being delivered to the departures area? That's what's currently happening at the Melbourne (MLB) airport because the baggage claim area (and the whole airport) is being completely rebuilt as TUI relocates their Europe flights to MLB from SFB. The bags came out slowly with a staff member putting them in a pile from the belt also used for departures.

  10. Mh Diamond

    "I guess I should feel even worse for those on QR673, because even after 90 minutes the flight still showed as “Bags En Route,”

    ...Except you were on QR673. It was those on QR677 still waiting...

  11. mauipeter Guest

    Only time that happened to me was on a New Years Eve flight MUC to DUB with Air Lingus. Pretty much everything was screwed up on that flight. It took until about an hour before departure, until some grumpy guy showed up at the check-in desk. When we landed, they had nobody to operate a jet bridge, so they sent us on a 10 minute walk in freezing rain from the plane to the terminal,...

    Only time that happened to me was on a New Years Eve flight MUC to DUB with Air Lingus. Pretty much everything was screwed up on that flight. It took until about an hour before departure, until some grumpy guy showed up at the check-in desk. When we landed, they had nobody to operate a jet bridge, so they sent us on a 10 minute walk in freezing rain from the plane to the terminal, and then they placed the luggage on a different belt than the one they had announced. Over an hour wait. Shivering. Sick for a week after.

  12. Brodie Guest

    Two days ago I came in on the evening flight AA CLT-LAX and had the most frustrating baggage experience of my life. We came into the Bradley Terminal, which is odd for a domestic AA flight. The app showed our bags would be at Terminal 5 baggage claim so I made the 20-30 minute walk over to T5, only for the baggage employee to state that our bags were at T4 and that she had...

    Two days ago I came in on the evening flight AA CLT-LAX and had the most frustrating baggage experience of my life. We came into the Bradley Terminal, which is odd for a domestic AA flight. The app showed our bags would be at Terminal 5 baggage claim so I made the 20-30 minute walk over to T5, only for the baggage employee to state that our bags were at T4 and that she had just made an announcement to let everyone know. I heard no such announcement on my long trek and asked her why they just do not update the app? I received a blank stare in return and made my way back to T4, only to see their boards were down so I had no clue where my bags would come out. I approached the baggage staff there and was told a certain carousel. And there I waited for another 20-30 minutes for the bags to come out. All in all I was in three separate terminals at LAX to collect one checked bag.
    My previous flight AA blew out the bottom of my new Monos bag, and 6 weeks later I cannot get a response from them on what they plan to do. Annoying AF.

  13. Andrew Guest

    I’ve flown AF business and, at sfo, had them take my bag off the carousel before I even arrived (or anyone else for that matter) and sequester them in a non-sensical location. I waited for all the bags to be claimed before going to the claims office only to be shown the off-carousel location where the bags were taken. If they’re going to do that, I think they should post a sign or tell passengers

    1. DC not in DC Guest

      IAH Terminal C always says "Carousel 12" though it rarely is. The United app, pilot, flight attendants, arriving gate agent, and the boards all say "Carousel 12" but my wife and I always split up and check all other carousels.

      We only check bags for beach and snow vacations.

  14. Jim Guest

    My home airport is DCA, where bag carousel announcements have an implied "give or take 1" at the end of them. But in the middle of the night, the brain isn't gonna be fully awake :)

  15. splane21 New Member

    Had this kind of happen to me twice in ATL off of Delta flights. First time off a domestic flight, we were all waiting at the carousel that displayed our flight and flight number but our bags ended up coming out on a different carousel. Someone realized 22 minutes after (wasn't sure if this qualified for 2500 miles lol since the bag was technically already out within the 20 minute mark, just not at the...

    Had this kind of happen to me twice in ATL off of Delta flights. First time off a domestic flight, we were all waiting at the carousel that displayed our flight and flight number but our bags ended up coming out on a different carousel. Someone realized 22 minutes after (wasn't sure if this qualified for 2500 miles lol since the bag was technically already out within the 20 minute mark, just not at the correct carousel).

    Another time came off a DL international flight from AMS. Had checked in 2 bags. One came on the correct carousel and the other came out on a completely different one. At least a Delta employee came and told us after we'd been waiting for some time that some bags were on a different belt.

  16. Bao Member

    We rarely checked bags but was forced to gate check since we were running late and were the last people to get on the plane in DFW. Arrived in SVQ and waited at baggage claim 2 for our bags. Nothing. Bags were coming out from our flights but not ours. After about 2 hours, we were getting ready to claim our lost bags. Turns out non-Schengen bags were at carousel 8. . First time I've seen baggages split up based on origins.

  17. D3kingg Guest

    This article has no value. I haven’t checked a bag in in over a decade I’m not Jason Derulio. In other News Recession beer is actually not that bad. Head for the mountains of Busch . Beeeeeer.

  18. Schlange Guest

    I was working arrivals for a flight from Munich once and we were waiting for our belt to start spinning, and right next door was a plane load of passengers from a known drug source Caribbean nation. CBP was running every bag through their mobile X-ray van as it was unloaded, and hadn’t released the cleared bags yet, so they had been waiting a while. Our belt started buzzing and all of the Caribbean passengers...

    I was working arrivals for a flight from Munich once and we were waiting for our belt to start spinning, and right next door was a plane load of passengers from a known drug source Caribbean nation. CBP was running every bag through their mobile X-ray van as it was unloaded, and hadn’t released the cleared bags yet, so they had been waiting a while. Our belt started buzzing and all of the Caribbean passengers came over, assuming the bags were theirs. One said “this is the [redacted] flight, right? These bags didn’t really come from Munich, did they?” I was like “um, yes, these bags really did come from Munich.” It’s one thing to wait at the wrong carousel. It’s another to be so closed minded as to assume that the first bags to arrive would be yours when the sign clearly states a different point of origin. Though in their defense the airline they flew in on was notorious for their staff becoming scarce when issues arose in international arrivals.

  19. Ian Snowley Guest

    Hi Ben, arriving into LHR from Dubai on Friday (13th) we had the alternative experience where the airport monitors told us the wrong belt number! Spent some time waiting barely registering that the crowd was diminishing despite no bags showing up until another passenger came by and told us the correct belt number!

  20. David Diamond

    Something similar happened to my last month.

    Just flew into SIN on Singapore Airlines, so I assumed when the SQ app tells me my bag is coming out at belt 42, it would come out there.

    Turns out nope, it came out on belt 44 and I wasted 30 minutes of my own time + my Blacklane driver.

    1. Alian Guest

      Never rely on app. Stupid SQ app sent me over 20 msg for the same flight on baggage claim. What a nuisance

      I rely on the airport baggage claim board and double check on the screen at the belt

  21. NoWorkAndAllTravel Guest

    I quite appreciated that in some Chinese airports, there were employees who actually checked that your tag matched your bag.

    This is as opposed to say, U.S. airports, where you can get an entirely new wardrobe just by strolling up to the terminal. In the U.S., security theater is taken very seriously.

    1. Jeff Guest

      LGA checks the claim tags.

    2. Nate nate Guest

      Its based on a risk analysis on whether its worth the airline paying someone to check tags. I think United checks tags at LAX, or at least sometimes does.

    3. Bort Guest

      A plain-clothes officer at one of the NY airports (I forget which) stopped me to check my tag back in 2018ish. My bag was one of the last to come out. I pulled it off the carousel, and then didn't leave the baggage area for about 15 minutes while I took care of something on my phone. I could see how it looked suspicious--a luggage thief might do something like that to see if anyone would claim one of the last bags on the carousel.

  22. Eskimo Guest

    It's one of those days where everything goes wrong no matter what you do.

  23. Sam Guest

    We waited over 90 minutes for our bags at the Cabo airport. We had luckily booked a “VIP Arrival” and our escort stayed with us while we waited. Eventually she climbed through the conveyor belt door, got our bags, and passed them through while others continued to wait. Worth the extra $ for the VIP arrival services!

  24. Jon Guest

    This reminds me of an arrival in Newark on United also late at night. Waited and waited at baggage claim. Flight showed on monitor but nothing - belt was not even moving after more than an hour. For some reason I took a walk further down the baggage claim hall. There was a carousel full of bags with no flight information on the monitor and sure enough I saw my bag. Did they update monitor?...

    This reminds me of an arrival in Newark on United also late at night. Waited and waited at baggage claim. Flight showed on monitor but nothing - belt was not even moving after more than an hour. For some reason I took a walk further down the baggage claim hall. There was a carousel full of bags with no flight information on the monitor and sure enough I saw my bag. Did they update monitor? No. Announce the change? No. So moral is - don’t trust the information monitors either.

  25. Errol Guest

    Whilst I don't know who handles QR at DOH (I assume Qatar Aviation Services) or what their service level agreement with QR at DOH demands, in my experience the first F bag on belt should probably need to be there within 10 to 15 mins of the hold door opening. If the belt is still empty after 25 mins one should check they are at correct carousel and, assuming one is, ask a ground handling...

    Whilst I don't know who handles QR at DOH (I assume Qatar Aviation Services) or what their service level agreement with QR at DOH demands, in my experience the first F bag on belt should probably need to be there within 10 to 15 mins of the hold door opening. If the belt is still empty after 25 mins one should check they are at correct carousel and, assuming one is, ask a ground handling agent what is going on. Failure to get 1st bag on belt within 25 mins is pretty poor and would suggest something has gone wrong or the ground handler is incompetent. Unfortunately both happen too often.

  26. Creditcrunch Diamond

    Prior to 9/11 I had a similar experience on a flight to Malaga, waited with other passengers for my bags after the last bag came out I went to the baggage reclaim rep, scanned my boarding card and was advised my bags were in the store as they were flown out on an earlier flight, so much for passengers must travel on the same plane as their checked in baggage!

  27. Never In Doubt Guest

    Stick sunscreen travels in carry ons without restrictions.

  28. Jack007 New Member

    It happend to me in Izmir. I have arrived Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, connecting from international flight. After I have wait at the baggage carosel for over 45 minutes airport employe asked me where I came from. He then escorted me to the “International Arrivals” where my bag with Priority Tags was going in laps around the carosel.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

Jay Guest

your "bottom line" section for this article is amazing. and hilarious. haha

3
Jack007 New Member

It happend to me in Izmir. I have arrived Turkish Airlines from Istanbul, connecting from international flight. After I have wait at the baggage carosel for over 45 minutes airport employe asked me where I came from. He then escorted me to the “International Arrivals” where my bag with Priority Tags was going in laps around the carosel.

2
NoWorkAndAllTravel Guest

I quite appreciated that in some Chinese airports, there were employees who actually checked that your tag matched your bag. This is as opposed to say, U.S. airports, where you can get an entirely new wardrobe just by strolling up to the terminal. In the U.S., security theater is taken very seriously.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,788,713 Miles Traveled

27,627,500 Words Written

32,315 Posts Published

Keep Exploring OMAAT