The woman was able to find her bag at a residential address

The Losing Bag of Valerie Szybala: A Disinformation Researcher’s Journey in Washington D.C. Was She notified of the Implosion of Southwest Airlines?

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Passengers are getting increasingly proactive when it comes to lost luggage, with many using GPS trackers to locate their missing bags — such as professional poker player Steve O’Dwyer, who went on an epic campaign, including a live TV broadcast , to retrieve his bag from London Heathrow.

Valerie Szybala is the latest with a story to tell. The disinformation researcher from Washington D.C. received her lost luggage after nearly six days, during which she tracked it as it went on walkabouts to local malls and McDonald’s while the airline told her that the bag was safely at its distribution center.

Szybala said that the person in the car wasn’t a van or official uniform and that he told her that she had lost her bag and that it was delivered to an apartment complex in the Virginia suburbs.

What she hadn’t bargained on was the “crazy weather” and “implosion” of Southwest Airlines. She flew United and had a layover via Southwest. She was notified by the United app that her bag hadn’t made it while she was in D.C. Not that she could see any staff to talk to: “The airport was a madhouse,” she says.

Szybala was going back to D.C. on December 28 after she had just returned from her first international trip in several years. She bought an Airtag for her trip.

The bag arrived the day after December 29 in D.C. It would not be until January 2 that she would get her hands on it. She chose to have the bag delivered to her home instead of returning to the airport to pick it up. “That’s where I made a big mistake, letting them hand it to a third party,” she says.

How Do U.S. Bags Get There? – Loretta Szybala’s Story at the Edge of Disguise

She says that the hold time on the phone was incredible and that the wait time in the app was two to four hours.

I did it every day and they told me that the bag was safe in the service center and would be delivered tonight. But that wasn’t true.

In fact, Szybala already knew there was something wrong, because she could see exactly where the bag was, thanks to the Airtag. “As of Friday 30 at 8 p.m. it had gone to rest in an apartment complex a couple of miles away from me,” she says.

“But I watched my bag stay in this apartment complex and go on errands since Friday,” she said. My bag was locked and must have been in a vehicle. I was so excited to have my bag that I wouldn’t ask him if he had it all weekend.

Szybala had recovered her bag only an hour before speaking with CNN, and hadn’t gone through the case fully, but said that “everything looks in order.”

For Szybala, the story isn’t over. “I think United needs to answer for these practices,” she told CNN. “Is it standard practice that people can take passengers’ bags home with them? They should explain to me. I would not have got it back if I hadn’t had the Airtag, or if I hadn’t posted on a public social networking website.

Her advice to travelers? “A tracking device is super helpful if you have any sort of connection. I wish I had a list of things in my bag. And if they say they’ll deliver, don’t accept — just say you’ll pick it up, even if the airport is two hours away.”

CNN Underscored: Nine AirTag Tips and Tricks to Help You Get the Most Out of Your Tracker? Discovering Love Stories of Galas, 22-year-olds, and the Gibbon

CNN Underscored, a product reviews guide owned by CNN, has put together nine AirTag tips and tricks to help you get the most out of your Apple tracker.

CNN Travel features love stories of gal pals who bond over marriage concerns, the 22-year-olds who found their life partner by buying inexpensive tickets, and a gibbon who confused zookeepers when she was alone in her cage.

Maggie Musgrave was flying back from her bachelorette party, crying because she thought the wedding was a mistake, when she found comfort by talking with fellow traveler Cindy Jarrin at a Miami airport. Maggie’s marriage didn’t work out, but her decade-long friendship with Cindy is a love story for the ages

And 22-year-old Vickie Moretz had never left the southern United States when she and her friend booked standby flights to London in 1982 — without understanding what standby meant. After speaking with the airline staff, she got the last seat on the plane and ended up sitting next to a young Englishman named Graham. The romance of them getting married before the end of the year is still going strong forty-four years later.

Online booking platforms, tour operators and hotel companies confirm that US travelers are busy packing their bags for transatlantic adventures before spring leaves are even in bud. The increased demand is pushing up prices, too. We have a report that you can use to begin working on your vacation strategy in 2023.


Taming a dolphin: eerie images of barnacle-clad ships found in the Baltic Sea from the Dirac divers Jonas Dahm and Carl Douglas

Oversubscribed destinations are being increasingly selective about the types of tourists they want to attract. Marijuana use is banned on the red light district streets in Amsterdam, in the latest move by the city to discourage party-hungry travelers.

Mexico has banned shark-related tourism activities on Guadalupe Island off the coast of Baja California, a popular spot for pursuits including cage diving and sport fishing. The wildlife protection decision effectively ends the island’s once-busy tourism economy.

A dolphin’s skull was discovered at the Detroit airport after federal authorities opened an unattended bag. The US Fish and Wildlife Service is going to investigate it.

Divers Jonas Dahm and Carl Douglas have devoted 25 years to wreck-hunting. A book now gathers together their eerie photographs of the barnacle-clad vessels they’ve discovered in the icy waters of the Baltic Sea.

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