A woman has gone viral online after documenting the wild adventure of her missing luggage, from an apartment complex to a McDonald’s after United Airlines lost her suitcase.
On Thursday, December 28, Valerie Szybala arrived in Washington, DC after rebooking flights in Chicago, Illinois with United Airlines. Upon landing, she was informed via the United app that her luggage was delayed. The app said her luggage would arrive in DC on Friday and gave her the option to have her things delivered.
“I said OK, and that was a big mistake,” she said The Independent. “The third party they contracted with pretty much took my bag and I could tell by the AirTag I had.”
It all started when Szybala tweeted in a now viral Twitter on Sunday thread that United Airlines had lost their luggage. She used AirTags to track down her suitcase’s bizarre location outside of a condominium complex and discovered that her luggage wasn’t the only luggage haphazardly stored in the condominium complex. Outside, she found others discarded and emptied by the dumpster.
Despite telling United customer support that her luggage was missing, she was told to “calm down” and that her bag was “safe” at the delivery service’s distribution center.
Unsurprisingly, that wasn’t the case.
“I just want everyone to know that @united lost track of my bag and is lying about it,” she began the viral Twitter thread, which now has 125,000 likes and 15.3 million views.
“My Apple AirTag says it has been sitting in an apartment complex for over a day. I found other empty United Airlines bags out by the dumpsters,” she wrote. Along with the tweet, Szybala included an image of other suitcases scattered about the concrete complex.
On Friday night, Szybala noticed her luggage sat in the parking lot of a suburban shopping mall for an hour before moving across the street to an apartment complex, where it stayed for almost three days.
“I actually went over that night to see if this really was what I thought was an apartment building. And that was it,” said Szybala. Although Szybala was unable to get a signal from her AirTag, she confirmed that this was definitely not a distribution center as United had claimed.
The next day Szybala’s suitcase was still in the apartment complex and she went back to look for her bag. Although she didn’t find anything on Saturday, Szybala returned on Sunday and found two empty suitcases next to the dumpster.
“I walked around the back of the complex and found two more empty bags,” she explained. “They looked clean. They didn’t look like there were bags to throw away.”
At that point, she chatted with a United Airlines customer service representative and told them what she saw. In the support chat screenshots of their conversation, Szybala wrote, “The Apple AirTag tracker I have with me indicates that it has been sitting in this condominium for several days.”
Szybala informed the customer service rep that “empty United customer bags were by the dumpsters” and asked why her luggage was being taken to that location.
After receiving no reply, Szybala asked if the representative was still there, to which they replied: “Calm down [sic] Bag is at the delivery service. We’ll deliver the bag to you, don’t worry.”
Perhaps it was the United customer service rep’s reaction that incensed Twitter users the most, as many people pointed out the audacity of telling Szybala to “calm down.”
“The ‘calming down’ would have made me see red,” replied one Twitter user.
“This is wild,” said another, before mentioning seeing “rows and rows and rows” of luggage at Newark Liberty International Airport in New Jersey. “A total mess”.
Another person said: “That condescending ‘calm down’ would have made me a total jerk in the DMs.”
Even Szybala was stunned by the United customer service representative’s response. “I told them what I saw and they just stared at me,” she said The Independent. “It was obvious they were lying. That wasn’t true because this tracker told me my bag was in the building and I saw two empty bags outside.”
After filing a police report about the missing luggage, Szybala decided to post it on Twitter.
A few hours after posting her first tweet, Szybala informed her followers that her AirTag appeared to be on its way, stopping at a McDonald’s restaurant, only to return to the same apartment complex where it had been “held hostage” for the past two days. would.
It wasn’t until Monday that Szybala was finally reunited with her bag. “I realized, ‘Oh, it has to be in the trunk of a car. It goes on these trips,'” she said. “I was looking in the wrong place, I had to go to the garage.”
Szybala tracked her bag again via AirTag after traveling from the suburbs to the mall and back to the apartment complex. “I’ve decided this is my chance. i will get it It’s in the garage,’ she said. “And I did.”
Along with a crew from two local news stations, Szybala also received help from a resident of the apartment building, who had been following her Twitter thread. “They helped us navigate the garage because you have to swipe through, and we got a weak signal with the pocket iPhone,” Szybala recalls.
But when she stepped out of the garage and regained cell service, she received a “patchy” text message from a delivery service courier, whom she said was called Milton.
In the popular Twitter thread, Szybala shared a screenshot of the text message, which read, “I’m delivering the baggage that’s missing on your AA/UA flight. I would like to apologize for the inconvenience you had with your bag. Imma will deliver it to you today.”
The courier explained: “The bag was given to me under another passenger and I delivered yours [sic] at a different address and had to go back and collect it.”
However, Milton’s message did not match what Szybala’s AirTag tracking had shown. “It didn’t make any sense. It still doesn’t,” she said. So she decided to call Milton. As he picked up the phone, he told Szybala he was just around the corner and drove back to meet her near the apartment complex, where she received her bag.
Though her luggage was now safely home, Szybala was left with many confused questions and not many answers. “I still have a feeling that something quite unusual is happening at this address,” she said. Szybala suggested that in the chaos of the holiday season, the backlog of missing luggage makes it easy to steal someone else’s suitcase.
“I think that makes the most sense that there was no intention of returning my bag to me,” she said.
Szybala also revealed that the two empty bags she found by the dumpster outside the apartment complex were over later on Monday. A resident of the building told Szybala that the suitcases were not picked up by garbage collectors but were brought back inside by someone in the building, which “certainly contributes to the patchy factor,” she tweeted.
The last three days have been a wild ride for Szybala’s once-missing luggage, so she ended her viral Twitter thread by sharing some of the lessons she’d learned since United Airlines lost her luggage.
One of the three lessons we learned was that using a tracking device in your luggage “can be a lifesaver”, travelers should take photos or inventory of their belongings in case they need to claim a refund, and “never delay the delivery” of the Should prefer pick-up option if their luggage arrives on a later flight.
United Airlines has not yet publicly commented on the missing baggage case, aside from Szybala’s initial interaction with United’s customer support chat. In a statement to The IndependentUnited Airlines said, “We are working with our baggage delivery provider to understand the details of this situation.”
Although Szybala was offered some miles by United Airlines, Szybala was told the company had launched an investigation into the mysterious apartment complex saga, but has not received any information since.
“At this point it’s really up to United to hold their subcontractors accountable – turn them over to a service and trust them to deliver people’s bags when one of the most common horror stories shared in responses, was that my bag was delivered to a different address,” Szybala said.
“It’s a happy story for me. But I feel really bad for people because everyone is going through this right now, or tons of people. It’s really annoying and not everyone will be able to go viral and get their bag back.”