The Return Of The Prodigal Bag

Two days after my bag was declared officially lost by Tiger Airway’s underwriter, I got a call saying my bag had been found.

What the XXXX, Tiger?

Very late on a Saturday night, someone at Tiger’s lost luggage desk in Singapore had found my bag, 43 days after I checked it in at Ho Chi Minh City’s international airport.

The day after I got the call, the prodigal bag flew back to Ho Chi Minh City and the day after that I drove across town to collect it.

As I drove to the airport I wondered whether my bag had done a full world tour, exploring all the exotic places I want to visit but haven’t yet had the chance. I imagined my bag perched on a bar stool overlooking the Agean, rolling through the back streets of Stone Town and bumping along in the back of a truck on a dusty track somewhere in the wilds of Africa.

But the paperwork showed my bag had only been to Sydney and back. I suspect my black rolly-bag actually made it to Sydney before we did, after a delayed Tiger flight made Miss M and I miss our flight from Singapore to Australia.

There was a sheaf of documents associated with my bag. I had to sign the front page to confirm collection. Given you’re not supposed to sign anything you haven’t read, I flipped through the pages and skimmed the various communications. There was a note from Farhana from Charles Taylor Aviation, the woman who had informed me the bag was officially lost, that leaped out at me. It read: “Please make this urgent as pax has made heavy complaints to Tiger and threatened to get the media involved”.

Lovely. Just lovely. Especially as I never made any threats to anyone at all. In fact in all my years as a working journalist I have never once used my supposed power for personal gain. And “heavy complaints”? All I wanted was for someone to tell me what was going on.

Reading that little note intensified my pissed-off-edness with Tiger Airways.

All the time and money I spent buying stuff to replace what went missing, making international calls to try to find out where my bag could be, scanning receipts for insurance claims, searching Tiger’s website for their lost baggage policy and driving across town to collect my bag. And now the bag is back to being “delayed” and so I can only claim on my travel insurance for up to $200 for “essentials”. Arrrgh.

I collected the bag local-style ... on my motorbike. Rather than fork out for a taxi.

I collected the bag local-style … on my motorbike. Rather than fork out for a taxi.

I toyed with the idea of taking Tiger to a small claims court in Singapore. But then life continued with tours, visitors, editing work, friends, dogs, chickens, a broken shower, a broken phone …. and I really can’t be bothered taking it any further.

What do you think I should do? Leave it and move on or somehow kick up a stink?


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10 years ago

By: Barbara

A career girl who dropped out, traveled, found love, and never got around to going home again. Now wrangling a cross-cultural relationship and two third culture kids.


  1. If I were you, I’d put on those lovely Parisian pants and drink a chilled glass of white wine in honor of this little bit of good luck. Forgive, forget and never fly Tiger again!
    cosmoHallitan recently posted..Literary Lunch at M on the Bund, Shanghai

    • Barbara says:

      Oh yes, I am LOVING having my groovy Parisian pants back. And I have two bottles of lovely wine that visiting friends gave me last week. I think I will take your most excellent advice, Madam Ferret!

  2. I’d still keep “threatening” them if I were you — mostly because it sounds like it would really get their goat. 🙂

  3. Jennifer says:

    I wouldn’t put too much thought into the “heavy complaints” part of it. That employee may have put that down on the form just as a favor to you, to get others to expedite it. I have to do that at my job sometimes to get lazier people to stop being lazy and HURRY UP SOMEONE IS WAITING FOR THIS.

    • Barbara says:

      It’s not just the “heavy complaints” that infuriates me, Jennifer, it’s the combination of “heavy complaints” and “threatened”. Even though I have been immensely pissed off with Tiger, I have taken great care to be courteous to everyone I’ve spoken to and/or emailed.

  4. Carmel says:

    At this point I’d probably just let it go. I’ve had a somewhat similar experience in another industry and I realized it was just making me angrier thinking about how to “make things right” and it wasn’t worth my energy. But it’s not like you don’t have the right to be angry about what happened and how much money, time and energy it took.

  5. YAY BAG!! especial yay for the Parisian Pants!! I think I’d let it go, and not fly Tiger again.
    wandering educators recently posted..A Purple Church, Houses on Stilts, and the Sea in Castro, Chile

    • Barbara says:

      I don’t think I can rule out flying Tiger again, Jessie. I will just be so much more careful about what I pack and I will be very careful about relying on Tiger to connect with other flights. It’s just not worth the risk.

  6. budget jan says:

    I think I would leave it go, pursuing it any more will just keep it alive, and you have too many other things happening in your life. Also I would not rule out flying with them again. After a cooling off period, that is. If there is another low cost airline available you could take that option (Jetstar? Air Asia?), but if Tiger were the only low cost option available, and the opposition was wayyy more expensive, I would try flying them again with hand luggage only. That is hard I know if it is just you and Miss M. Hmmm. Just a thought!
    budget jan recently posted..Budget Travel Interview with Krista Bjorn from Rambling Tart

    • Barbara says:

      Jan, I haven’t actually said I would never fly Tiger again. They fly between Ho Chi Minh City and Singapore and so I have flown them a lot. When things work, it’s great. I just can’t believe how poorly things are set up to handle problems like mine.

      • budget jan says:

        Oh I realize you had never said that, but others suggested it, so I was just added my 2 cents worth. It is incredible that they do not have someone to handle these situations. I wonder where your bag hung out at Sydney Airport all that time. Maybe it was drinking coffee at Gloria Jeans:) You would think there would be a list of lost luggage and someone would have checked you bag against the list. What a shame it had not been all around the world!
        budget jan recently posted..Budget Travel Interview with Krista Bjorn from Rambling Tart

        • Barbara says:

          All two cents are most welcome, Jan!

          I’ve had luggage go missing before (flying Royal Brunei, Ansett and Qantas) and every other time I’ve been told where my bag is, when it would arrive and the airline’s missing bag procedures. It can’t be that difficult, can it?

          • budget jan says:

            We both had our luggage go missing with Singapore Airlines. We arrived in Barcelona and when we approached the lost luggage counter they looked at the computer, told us that it was in Singapore and would be in Barcelona in 24 hours, gave us 120 euro, two fully stocked toiletry bags, 2 t shirts and delivered the bag when it arrived! Then when my bag was damaged they replaced it!
            budget jan recently posted..Fantastic Friday Sapa Reflections

  7. Scott Norris says:

    Congratulations, I guess?

    Let’s hope VietJet or Scoot comes in on the route to bring in some competition! (although SQ has its hands in both Tiger and Scoot, so perhaps that’s moot)

    Agree you’ve said nothing threatening during this story … just letting the facts speak for themselves, as absurd as they are, and letting your readers decide for themselves. Well done and very classy.

  8. […] Sorry for bombarding you with two posts in two days. We’ve been so busy with tours that I haven’t had time to blog. And before focusing on food I needed to update everyone on my missing/not-missing bag situation. […]

  9. amulya says:

    I am in a similair situation now. Lost my bag on tiger airways flight from Singapore to Bangalore on April 22nd. Found somone else’s unclaimed bag with my identification tag at the Bangalore airport. So obviosuly the bags were wrongly tagged at the Singapore airport. No idea what tag my bag has, or where it is!
    Have spent numerous hours filling out forms, writing letters and calling an insane amount of people, but all in vain.. Nobody from Tiger ever responds!

    Its been a week already ! Trying hard to be optimistic after reading that you got your bag after around 40 days 🙁

    • Barbara says:

      Oh, you poor thing Amulya. I hope you get your luggage back sooner than I did!
      I found the lack of communication from Tiger absolutely infuriating. Seems like things haven’t changed much since my bad experience.

      • Ann says:

        Guess what? Tiger Airways strikes again! They lost our luggage when we flew from Singapore to Jakarta last Wed night. We did not hear from them and my husband decided to make a trip to the airport on Fri (which by the way is not too near the city) to no avail. I managed to call Tiger back in Singapore, and the lady was like, oh, we just received an email about this. Really??? 2 days later?! Tried calling them again and the numbers are either engaged or no one picked up the phone. Really frustrating….I want my stuff back…boo hoo hoo…. But will stay hopeful and optimistic, and maybe, like Barbara, we can enjoy our goodies packed in the luggage. Yes, will pray and be hopeful!

  10. Anthony says:

    You’re pretty lucky to have yours back after a while. I waited for like 3 months up till now, emailed and called them (charles taylor) to no result. Well actually it wasn’t about the monetary value on the luggage, its their unresponsive customer service that drives me mad.
    I was thinking of filing a law suit, you guys have any experience on this?

    • Barbara says:

      Hi Anthony, I agree that the craptaculous customer service was the thing that was most frustrating about losing our bag. I don’t have any information about a lawsuit. I imagine that the small print on the ticket would make it very difficult to make much of a case for anything. But good luck! And I hope your bag turns up like mine did.

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