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RDU Travelers Hope To Be Reunited With Lost Luggage

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MORRISVILLE, N.C. — A turbulent holiday travel weekend across the country continues into the week, and its effects are being felt at

Raleigh-Durham International Airport


US Airways canceled hundreds of flights due to winter weather and workers calling in sick. A shortage of baggage handlers through the holiday weekend created a domino effect across the country.

The Department of Transportation formally launched an investigation Tuesday into US Airways and its luggage fiasco, but that news is no solace at RDU International, where many passengers are busy searching for their lost luggage, which continues to pile up.

Sue Cullen found one bag, but has not seen the other two since Dec. 22.

"I tried to call and there was no answer. You couldn't get through," she said. "I went to the computer and put a lost claim in and that was just a loop. I got an e-mail back saying 'something's wrong, we cannot help you.' You go on to the [Web] site and it was the same site I had just been on."

Barbara Thetford lost her luggage Monday night and is more than anxious to find it.

"My husband is actually stationed in Iraq and he sent me a gift for Christmas and it's in that bag so I really want that," she said.

Thetford saw the problem immediately while sitting on the tarmac in Philadelphia.

"We sat on the runway for two hours watching our bags sit outside. The captain finally came on and said they had to call two supervisors to physically load the bags themselves," she said.

For two days before locating her luggage, Maggie Bard only had the clothes on her back.

"We flew in from Los Angeles and that was Christmas Day. Our luggage is lost -- we don't even have a change of underwear," she said.

In some cases, travelers and their luggage traveled on different flights.

Monday night, Lee Vaughn did not know where his luggage was.

"The bags did not make it. [We're told] they are still in Atlanta, they could be in Fort Lauderdale, but they just aren't here," he said.

In just one baggage claim area, WRAL counted more than 400 bags-- some that have been there for several days.

"I had no presents to give to my children and grandchildren. All I have is what I'm wearing," Patricia Mannon said.

So far, travelers said the only explanation has been anything but customer friendly.

"Their explanation is that people called in sick because they aren't getting paid enough," Mannon said.

People missing their luggage can come to the US Airways baggage claim area to look for them. Hundreds of bags have also been moved to a nearby warehouse where RDU International officials are helping US Airways crews organize them.

Workers at the baggage claim area can tell people looking for their bags if they have been moved to the warehouse. US Airways is supposed to have a detailed list of which bags are out there so they can match people who show up with a baggage claim ticket.

On Tuesday, Delta Airlines' partner, Comair, issued an apology to thousands of passengers it stranded over the weekend. Comair ran only 60 percent of its flights after weather and a computer glitch grounded flights on Christmas Day.

The Transportation Department will also investigate the cause of the computer glitch.The airline predicts flights will be back to normal by Wednesday.


Kelcey Carlson