Why I Don’t Check Luggage—Florence Fiasco


On my recent trip to NYC, London, Dublin, and Florence with my sister, something happened that underscores why I don’t check luggage very often. We were flying from Dublin to Florence with a layover in Amsterdam. We had packed carry-on luggage only for a two-week trip (yes, it is possible).

When we checked in at Dublin, they weighed our carry-ons and they were one pound over their limits. They have weight limits in other parts of the world, and we should have put more in our backpacks. Rather than open our bags and make everyone wait, we allowed them to check our bags—bad move.

We had a short connection in Amsterdam and worried about our bags making it, but the flight was delayed due to weight issues (this gets more confusing as the story progresses). We relaxed, knowing that our bags would certainly make it now. (Think again, Pam!)


First Sign of a Problem

When we got to Florence, everyone on our plane (KLM) waited almost an hour for our bags. There was no communication at all from KLM, and we saw multiple bags from other flights come and go. Finally, there was an announcement that our bags were delayed. Nothing else was said. About 45 minutes later, the news came through fellow travelers that no bags were loaded for anyone onto our airplane. How does that even happen? No wonder there was a weight issue!

We were supposed to fill out a form at the lost and found area. It was immediately flocked with over 100 people and only two employees. They then passed out forms and told us that we could complete them at our hotels and email them, and our bags would be delivered to our hotels. Okay, we headed to our hotel.


Crowd of people in baggage area

The crowds of people waiting for nonexistent luggage was incredible!


Second Sign of a Problem

Once at the hotel, I filled out the form and tried to send it. I got a rejection notice that the email was undeliverable. I tried multiple times, and received the same error message each time.

Faxing the form was my next thought, but their fax didn’t accept it either. Then we tried calling the airport, and it hung up on us every time.

My next thought was to fill out the lost baggage form on KLM. That wouldn’t submit despite multiple attempts. (Note—fellow travelers we met in Florence on our same flight said they all had the same experiences with nothing being submitted properly).

Finally, I found a phone number for KLM Italy, and they were quite helpful. They filled out a form for me. They also informed me NOT to have the bags delivered as it could take days (and we were only in Florence for two nights). After I got off the phone, I received an email confirmation with a reference number that they were looking for my bag. They also said they would cover $100/day for necessities, so we went shopping.


Third Sign of a Problem

I called KLM Italy the next morning, and they said that they had tried to put our bags on the last flight the night before, but there was no room. They were supposed to be on an 11:30 flight that morning, but it would take Florence about 3 hours to process them, and they would send a confirmation when that was done. There was no confirmation all day. Or ever.

I called the next morning, and they said they “believed” the bags had arrived in Florence the day before, and our best bet was to go to the airport and check. We returned to the airport and stood in a line at lost and found pre-departure with several people who had been on our flight. Only one employee was working the lost and found. After more waiting, we finally got to her, and she knew what we needed. She took our information and our passports and had us wait with others.

Finally, an airport employee came and took five people at a time to look for their bags. This, too, was a slow and laborious process. I got into the room, and there were HUNDREDS of bags. Luckily, my fluorescent Travel Freely luggage tag made it easy to spot my bag!


Grey Suitcase with orange luggage tag

Reunited, and it felt so good!


At this point, I thought they’d check my bag and my tag numbers, and I’d be on my way. Nope. A man told me I had to wait in another line for them to close the file. I waited another 45 minutes, and another employee asked for my passport and baggage tag and sent me on my way—hallelujah! The Florence Fiasco was over.


Bottom Line

That is why I don’t check luggage. And now I need to remember not to overpack carry-on bags when outside of the U.S. All of this could have been avoided. It was a stressful fiasco that reminded me of when I lost my bags in Greece for three days. What about you? Do you check bags? What are your horror stories, and have I convinced you not to check your luggage yet? Oh, and I plan to avoid Florence’s airport in the future. 🤪

P.S. The Florence airport said that luggage regularly isn’t loaded onto planes, and they are definitely ill-equipped to handle that mistake!

Brown upright suitcase outside doors

Share this post

  1. Patricia says:

    Do you think the Apple AirTag would have been beneficial?

  2. Julie says:

    Did any credit card travel protections also kick in so you could buy more than the $100 of stuff?

    • Pam says:

      KLM actually gave me $230 for clothes, flat-iron, taxi and train ticket. I only had one day in Florence and didn’t want to spend it shopping but I’m sure that Chase would have come through with their protections if I had bought more.

  3. Kimberly Wood says:

    Can you do a packing guide? I can’t even try to imagine myself packing two weeks in a carry on. Help me!!

  4. Serena Rodriguez says:

    We missed our connecting flight so our checked luggage was lost for 4 days in Venice. Being an inexperienced traveler I wasn’t aware of baggage insurance coverage through my card. Bought AirTags for our next international flight. If I can avoid checking a bag I will. International travel is fun but it’s a lot and stressful. Thank you for all of your tips and making it look easy

  5. Melissa Beck says:

    So, you spent the three days you had in Florence trying to get your luggage? This story is the one I needed to convince my husband why we are not checking bags when we head to Italy in August!

    • Pam says:

      We were only there for 2 nights and we tried to not think about it for our full day to just sight see but it was always in the back of our mind.

  6. Christine says:

    How do air tags help? I know they tell you the location of your bag but what do you do with that information? Thanks!

    • Pam says:

      It would have told me my bags were still in Amsterdam, and I would have known to wait until they got to Florence. I used them today on a trip, and it was great knowing they were with me! For me, it’s a piece of mind thing or just more info to know how to proceed.

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