Courtesy of Brittany Loubier-Vervisch
- A Tampa teacher turned into a lost luggage angel during the travel chaos this holiday season.
- The woman texted at least 50 people using the numbers on people’s lost baggage.
- She told Insider she’s “never seen anything like it” as abandoned bags were left at the Tampa airport.
As travel mayhem gripped the nation this week, one Tampa-based science teacher did her part to help spread a little holiday cheer — by helping to reunite weary travelers with their lost luggage.
With thousands of flights canceled over Christmas weekend, Brittany Loubier-Vervisch found herself searching through an “Armageddon of luggage” at Tampa International Airport the day after Christmas.
Loubier-Vervisch and her husband had already faced some holiday travel woes: They had canceled their Christmas Eve flight to visit family in Ohio because of the weather.
The couple then made a last-minute decision to fly to Tuscon, connecting through Denver, on Boxing Day.
“We had no idea that Southwest was going to cancel thousands of flights,” Loubier-Vervisch told Insider, adding that after a few delays, they realized they weren’t going to make it to Tuscon on Monday, so they canceled that flight, too.
While her husband stayed put in Southwest Airlines’ customer service line at the airport to figure out how to get their luggage back, Loubier-Vervisch — frustrated with the long wait — decided to head to Southwest and Spirt Airlines’ joint baggage claim to look for their bags herself.
Loubier-Vervisch said she’d “never seen anything like it”: “hundreds, if not thousands” of bags piled up at the baggage claim from flights all over the country.
Faced with a mountain of baggage, she realized that she could probably reunite some travelers with their own by texting the number listed on the luggage tag while looking for her own.
“I was circling through the baggage claims as stuff was coming off the line and being piled up and if there was a tag on it with a number, I sent a text,” Loubier-Vervisch said.
Loubier-Vervisch said she sent at least 50 text messages on Monday while searching for her own bag.
A lot of the bags that ended up in Tampa were either sent there from another location where the traveler didn’t make it on the flight or were left behind by travelers who made it out of Tampa without their bags, she said.
The rest, Loubier-Vervisch added, were left behind because of cancelations at the airport.
Loubier-Vervisch said she was “just trying to help people so they knew where their bags were because people were all over the United States.” She added that travelers mistook her for an airport employee.
“I was like walking through the bags, I was like, ‘Oh, here’s your bags. Is this your name?’ And they were like, ‘Yes,'” Loubier-Vervisch explained. “I’m like, ‘Oh, here’s your other bags.’ And they were like, ‘Do you work here?'”
She said the people in the airport who had been waiting for their bags “for hours” were thankful for her initiative. As for the people she texted, she said they were generally grateful for her tip, with some asking her to give their phone numbers and addresses to Southwest to ship their luggage out.
“It was an inconvenience for us,” Loubier-Vervisch admitted, “But for people that had no idea where in the United States their luggage could possibly be, I was like, ‘Well if I at least tell them it’s in Tampa, they know it’s not still where they were, where they were going or you know, they can figure out where it is and at least know where to look for it.’ “
The teacher’s heroics didn’t go unnoticed. One lucky traveler shared her text message on Twitter, writing: “Thank you to the random stranger who texted me that my suitcase was in fact in Tampa. You are a lifesaver!”
Loubier-Vervisch and her husband eventually found their bags around 4:30 p.m. — four hours after canceling their flight. But it was time well spent, she said.
“I’m a teacher, I help people, that’s what I do,” Loubier-Vervisch told Insider. “Anybody can do something … What I did was very small, but if everybody does something, it can have a ripple effect.”