September 26, 2023


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An American man from Costa Rica traveled to Miami only to retrieve his stranded bag, which he says contains thousands of dollars in drone equipment.

An American man from Costa Rica traveled to Miami only to retrieve his stranded bag, which he says contains thousands of dollars in drone equipment.

Robert Gentle took matters into his own hands to retrieve his luggage, which he says contained thousands of dollars in drone equipment, in June.Robert Gentle

  • Robert Gentle traveled from Costa Rica to Miami only to retrieve his stranded luggage.

  • The suitcase got stuck in Miami after his June flight was canceled.

  • The airline industry is dealing with a chaotic summer travel season with flight delays and chaos.

An American man from Costa Rica traveled to Miami to retrieve his bags after his bags were improperly tracked.

Robert Gentle, a drone racing enthusiast who lives in Costa Rica, told Insider that the problem started on June 15. He was due to fly from his parents’ home in San Antonio, Texas, back to his home in 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 trip. Gentle told Insider that the suitcases contained thousands of dollars of drone equipment, as was part taken at the MultiGP International Open 2022 drone race in Indiana from June 8 to June 12.

But he said that after checking his bags, his flight to Miami was canceled due to a maintenance issue. The airline rebooked him on United Airlines flights to Houston and then to Costa Rica on June 16.

“I went back to the airport the next day and checked with the US office about my bags, and I was told everything was fine and the bags were already on their way,” he told Insider via Twitter.

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But Gentle later found out that they didn’t. He put Apple AirTags in checked bags and saw them make their way to Miami.

Gentle arrived in Costa Rica for his birthday on June 16, but spent the day texting American and United regarding his bags as he bounced from department to department. Insider reviewed some of the chats they had with the airlines.

One of the Gentle’s bags was sent to Costa Rica a few days later, he said, but the other—according to AirTags—is still stuck in Miami.

“With each passing day, I was more and more worried that the baggage wouldn’t get to me and would eventually be lost forever,” he told Insider.

Book a new flight

After days of no resolution, he decided to fly from Costa Rica to Miami on June 20 to pick up the bag himself.

Once in Miami, he said he handed his baggage tag to the person in the storage room. “The guy looking for it in the storage room said it wasn’t on the shelf it was supposed to be, so I used AirTag to locate it on the shelf next to it,” he added.

This time, he said, he took apart all the things he “cared about” and carried them on the plane back home.

Robert Gentle's lost luggage

Gentle flew from Costa Rica to Miami to retrieve his stuck bag. He unpacked some expensive drone gear into a smaller suitcase to continue the return flight.Robert Gentle

Gentle said he booked most flights with credit card points. Insider verified his flight details for all three flights involved in the multi-day baggage ordeal. He contacted Insider with his story after reading about a passenger in Ireland who Bought a plane ticket To arrive at Dublin Airport to search for his lost bag.

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summer travel chaos

Gentle experience comes amid chaos summer travel season With flight delays, baggage loss, and disruptions as demand has returned to pre-pandemic levels. The chaos began on Memorial Day weekend and is now particularly evident in Europe. Airlines face a large number of Issuesincluding staff shortages, absences due to the ongoing pandemic, and bad weather.

While the process of getting his bag back was time-consuming and tedious – he says neither the Americans nor United offered any compensation for the problem – Gentle said he was “extremely relieved” to get his gear back. Gentle added that there would also be “a lot of inconvenience in replacing key drone racing gear such as my goggles and my controller”.

American Airlines did not respond to Insider’s request for comment.

“We are committed to delivering bags to customers’ final destinations on time, and when we lose the tag we work hard to get customers hooked up to their bags as quickly as possible,” a United Airlines representative told Insider.

Gentel is already thinking about what to do the next time he’s traveling with more gear than he’s allowed to carry on.

“I have recently considered booking a ticket for a friend on flights so that I can have an extra hand bag and be able to avoid booking expensive equipment,” he said.

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