- Robert Gentel flew from Costa Rica to Miami just to retrieve his stranded luggage.
- The bag got stuck in Miami after her flight was canceled in June.
- The aviation industry faces a messy summer travel season with flight delays and chaos.
An American flew from Costa Rica to Miami just to collect his luggage after his bags were mistracked.
Robert Gentel, a drone racing enthusiast who lives in Costa Rica, told Insider the trouble started on June 15. He had to fly from his parents’ house in San Antonio, Texas, to return home to Santa Ana, Costa Rica, to celebrate his birthday. He booked a first-class seat on American Airlines with a layover in Miami.
He checked two bags for the flight. Gentel told Insider the bags contained thousands of dollars worth of drone gear, as he had took part in the 2022 MultiGP International Open drone race in Indiana from June 8 to June 12.
However, after checking his bags, his flight to Miami was canceled due to a maintenance issue, he said. The airline booked him on United Airlines flights to Houston and then to Costa Rica on June 16.
“I came back to the airport the next day and checked with the US office about my luggage, and was told everything was fine and the luggage was already on the way,” he said. told Insider on Twitter.
But Gentel later found out they weren’t. He had placed Apple AirTags in checked luggage and seen them heading towards Miami.
Gentel traveled to Costa Rica for his birthday on June 16, but spent the day texting American and United about his bags as he was bounced around from department to department. Insider reviewed some of the discussions he had with the airlines.
One of Gentel’s two bags was sent to Costa Rica after a few days, but the other – based on its AirTags location – was still stuck in Miami, he said.
“With each passing day, I was more and more worried that the luggage would not reach me and end up being lost for good,” he told Insider.
Booking a new flight
After days of no resolution, he decided to fly from Costa Rica to Miami on June 20 to collect the bag himself.
Once in Miami, he said he gave his luggage tag to the person in the storage room. “The guy looking for it in the storage room said it wasn’t on the rack it was supposed to be on, so I used the AirTag to locate it on the rack next to it,” a- he added.
This time, he said, he unpacked everything close to his heart and took it on the plane home.
Gentel said he booked most flights with credit card points. Insider checked his flight details for the three flights involved in the multi-day baggage trial. He reached out to Insider with his story after hearing about a passenger in Ireland who bought a plane ticket enter Dublin Airport to look for his lost bag.
A summer of travel chaos
Gentel’s experiment comes amidst a mess summer travel season with flight delays, lost luggage and disruptions as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The chaos began on Memorial Day weekend and is now particularly pronounced in Europe. Airlines face a multitude of problemsincluding staff shortages, absences due to the ongoing pandemic and inclement weather.
While the process to get his bag back was time-consuming and cumbersome — he says neither American nor United offered compensation for the issue — Gentel said he was just “extremely relieved” to get his gear back. There would also be “a lot of downside to replacing my key drone racing gear like my goggles and controller,” Gentel added.
American Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.
“We are committed to delivering baggage to customers’ final destinations on time, and when we miss the mark, we work hard to connect customers with their baggage as quickly as possible,” a United Airlines representative told Insider.
Gentel is already thinking about what to do the next time he travels with more gear than he is allowed to carry.
“I recently thought about booking a ticket for a friend on flights so I could have extra carry-on luggage and avoid checking in expensive gear,” he said.