Sapphire Edmeades is determined to get her bear home, despite the bureaucracy of international airlines.
A hunt across continents is under way for Ted, a toy bear that toured Europe with thrash metal band Alien Weaponry without incident, only to be lost by an airline.
Read this story in te reo Māori and English here. / Pānuitia tēnei i te reo Māori me te reo Pākehā ki konei.
Ted the bear went on a month-long tour with te reo-singing metal band Alien Weaponry, with head-banging performances in Berlin, Kraków, Stockholm and Budapest, among many other cities.
However, band merchandise manager Sapphire Edmeades said the bear had now been missing for two months while Singapore Airlines tried to locate the 20-year-old Aucklander’s baggage – lost somewhere between Portugal and Auckland.
The multi-stop trip home began smoothly, but Edmeades said the trouble started when the London to Singapore leg was delayed by two hours.
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“When we arrived in Singapore, we watched our connecting Air New Zealand flight home take off without us.”
Singapore Airlines put Edmeades and her partner, drummer Henry de Jong, up in a hotel and rebooked them on a Qantas flight to Auckland via Sydney. But, when they arrived home, their luggage was nowhere to be seen.
Three bags, including expensive music equipment, had gone missing.
“It was really disappointing considering we had paid $3250 per ticket specifically for the excess baggage,” Edmeades said.
Two of the bags arrived at the couple’s home north of Auckland a week later, but an orange duffel bag containing “precious cargo” – aka Ted – is still at large.
Edmeades said the bag contained a few hundred dollars’ worth of clothing, but she was much more concerned about the sentimental value of the soft toy bear in the bag.
“I’ve had it since childhood, and it’s a high-quality bear from Harrods,” she said.
The couple have had “a nightmare” trying to work with Singapore Airlines and cargo and baggage handler Menzies Aviation to locate their furry friend, she said.
The Singapore Airlines website refers Kiwi travellers to a Menzies Aviation helpline. Edmeades said that line would only go to an answer phone message that said the message box was full.
De Jong was finally able to get some progress when he reached a line for Menzies’ freight cargo division.
“We eventually got an email saying they didn’t know where the bag was, but they were looking for it.”
A spokesperson for Singapore Airlines told Stuff that teams in Sydney, London and Singapore were “working closely” to identify where the bear had ended up.
Like Paddington Bear, it appeared Edmeades’ childhood friend was travelling unaccompanied somewhere in London.
The UK is one of many countries experiencing airport baggage delays as a result of staff shortages.
The spokesperson said it seemed that the luggage tags had come off their bags and they had been misplaced by another airline.
She said Europe and the UK had experienced increased numbers of mishandled baggage as the travel industry struggled to come out of dormancy following shutdowns during the pandemic.
Media in the UK have labelled it Europe’s “summer of lost luggage”, reporting that about nine suitcases per thousand had been lost.
A spokesperson for Auckland Airport said it had been experiencing “downstream effects” of the wave of lost luggage, but inquiries appeared to be decreasing.
They said travellers whose luggage did not arrive should immediately contact the lost baggage department of the airline they flew in on, not necessarily the airline they purchased tickets with.
“Airports are ecosystems, and it’s always the responsibility of airlines to take care of customers’ bags and ensure they reach the right destination.
“When bags go missing, airlines work with their ground handlers to find lost baggage and return it to customers.”
A Menzies Aviation New Zealand spokesperson said: “We don’t have any further comment on this occasion.”