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Whoa @Finnair Didn’t Rob My Luggage — They Repacked It!

I have been crisscrossing the globe from 39,000 feet up in the air for nearly a decade across with countless different airlines and this might just be the greatest airline story ever. It all started yesterday when I flew from Helsinki to Bangkok via Finnair. I had to pause my winter fun to come to Pattaya for three days to shoot photos for a new travel guide.

Departing Helsinki

In order to be properly dressed for the temperature change from -5°C to 35°C I took off my jacket and wool hoodie before check-in at Helsinki airport. I unzipped the top of my suitcase and quickly stuffed these winter clothes plus a few other items into the center area of the luggage. After all, I was eager to get to the Finnair lounge and enjoy some free beer before the long flight. And I’m not good at folding stuff.

Enjoying free beer at the Finnair lounge in Helsinki, Finland Cheers. No jacket. Am already in short sleeves prepared to disembark the plane in Bangkok.

Arrival In Bangkok

At baggage claim in Suvarnabhumi Airport I notice the lock sitting open as the bag is slowly coming towards me on the conveyor belt and my heart just sinks. It’s been opened, I’ve been robbed!

Delsey suitcases are super safe -- as long as you remember to lock it Delsey suitcases are incredibly theft-proof….as long as you remember to lock them :/

A quick check right there next to the baggage carousel revealed that all the last-minute items I had stuffed in the bag at Helsinki airport were gone! My black ski jacket, warm wool hoodie and GoPro case were all missing. I was upset. Disappointed. And possibly still drunk from the flight. But I was also on a tight time constraint, so rather than fully unpacking my suitcase there on the airport floor, I hopped into a taxi and lashed out on Twitter in anger.

(Oh crap, does this make me like Donald Trump?! Tweeting in anger before the facts are in?)

Soon after I receive a few suspicious tweets from a Twitter egg who appeared to know more about what is going on than I did at the time:

I didn’t think much of it other than some proud Finnish person upset at the thought of their national airline employing a thief. Only now, more than 24 hours later, did I finally have the time to open up my suitcase and fully inventory the contents. And guess what? My luggage was not robbed — it was repacked and reorganized!

  I owe Finnair a huge apology for my tweet yesterday. Finnair just became my new favorite airline, even better than Emirates!


  All that stuff which I had haphazardly shoved into the suitcase at check-in had been pulled out, folded, and properly re-packed inside the zippered compartments. The staff at Finnair literally unpacked my bag, folded my crumbled jacket, rearranged my shoes and dirty laundry, and shifted my GoPro case to a new position all so that it fit better, and then zipped it all back up. They played Tetris with my luggage and kicked ass at it! My luggage arrived in better condition than when I packed it. And that is a first for any airline I’ve ever flown.

When I unzipped the compartments it was a complete surprise....everything had been neatly rearranged! When I unzipped the compartments it was a complete surprise….everything had been neatly rearranged!

Everything in my suitcase was still there, just rearranged and better packed

Although I am still confused as to why my luggage was opened (maybe a security inspection?) never in my wildest dreams would I imagine Finnair staff being kind enough to fold and re-pack my bag more neatly than I did. When traveling in the United States the TSA loves to tear up your suitcase in the name of “security” and then make you re-pack it. Hell I’m pretty convinced they get off on it.

But it Finland they do things differently. That is just one of the many reasons why I love Finland and am looking forward to returning for more skiing. (I actually have a whole post on my love of Finland ready to publish tomorrow, but this one took priority as I need to apologize to Finnair and let everyone know the truth while it is still fresh in their mind.)

Flying Finnair around Lapland in Northern Finland -- best airlines ever! Flying Finnair around Lapland in Northern Finland — best airlines ever!

Lesson of the story?   Finnair is the greatest, most honest airline on earth. Kiitos!

  So that is my crazy airline story. Do you have one?

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About Derek Freal

"Some people eat, others try therapy. I travel."   Cultural enthusiast. Adrenaline junkie. Eater of strange foods. Chasing unique and offbeat adventures around the world since 2008. Derek loves going to new destinations where he does not speak a word of the local language and must communicate with hand gestures, or places where he is forced to squat awkwardly to poo -- supposedly its healthier and more efficient. For more information (about Derek, not squat pooing) including popular posts and videos, check out his bio.

27 thoughts on “Whoa @Finnair Didn’t Rob My Luggage — They Repacked It!”

  1. Wow! Well I’m glad that everything worked out :). I have to say that even when you told me about being robbed, I didn’t think for a second that it happened in Finland, because seriously I’ve NEVER heard it happen here. I think there is too much security to allow for such a thing.

    Reply
    • Same here Jerry, I was so confused as to how that could happen between Finnish honesty and security combined with the fact that no one in Bangkok would steal winter clothes as there is no need for them here. But given that my camera and laptop were in carry-on, that is all I needed for the first day here. Took me 24 hours to get around to fully emptying that massive Delsey. Wish I had done it sooner but either way, I am amazed. My jacket was actually folded and zipped in a compartment. Outstanding! The team at Finnair need a round of congrats but more importantly I want to know who that mystery Finn tweeting me was 😉

      Reply
  2. That is awesome! Was the generic Egg guy a customer service guy from FinnAir?
    I guess we always expect the worst from people but I often have to remember that there are people out there that always care!
    Maybe FinnAir should have a special note that said, sorry your luggage exploded on us & in case you are returning home to your mother, we took to the liberty of repacking your stuff so that you wouldn’t embarrass her!
    Seriously great story

    Reply
    • That is the million dollar question now Eric….who is the Egg man? Hahaha. But oh man that’s a great idea! A humorous note from Finnair inside of the suitcase would have been even better. When China went through my luggage they left a note. It was not humorous.

      Reply
      • Well guys, firstable Finnair or any other airlines are not handeling luggages at any airports. They’re only carrying it on their planes. There are different companies at the airport organizations around the globe who are responsible for handeling luggages. And they are billing airlines for that – so that’s pure B2B business case. Easy to understand thought that customers are only seeing/noticing airlines they are travelling with – I personally learned this lesson when one of my suitcases were broken while traveling. Airline started to argue with ground baggage handeling company who’s going to replace the broken one but it got solved easilly in the end so all good in that case as well. Glad you have all your stuff there as well, that’s the most important of course. It happens quite often on Twitter if you know what I mean 😉 Sometimes it’s just easier to tweet first and search after. Safe travels mate!

        Reply
        • Hey Christopher, yeah, good point but crappy lesson to learn firsthand. However you are definitely right about Twitter — it’s always easier to tweet first and do ________ second 😉

          Reply
    • Considering that my last minute packing jobs done at airports tend to involve more cramming than actual Tetris skills, it was so obvious things had been moved that I didn’t need notes/photos this time. But neither was I expecting the missing items to have been buried under other stuff. Happy ending in the end.

      Reply
  3. When that Twitter egg said, ‘if you know what I mean ‘, it got me thinking, Ow.. Ow.. What’s going on between you and mysterious Twitter egg, and he likes my Twitterabout egg and said yes, I have an egg.. Hmm.. Anyway, for me, it’s just creepy when somebody touched my personal stuff without me watching watch they are doing, yeah, I have a very severe trust issue , maybe .. At least, it’s not robbed, and please locked your luggage always.. Double check..

    Reply
    • Although I am equally curious as to the Egg’s real identity, I already asked once on Twitter and again here on the blog. No doubt that he/she has already seen one or the other. Although my curiosity has been piqued, I am not going to pursue it anymore. Finnair is amazing and their staff is the best in the world. They now have me as a customer for life.

      Reply
  4. Great story, Derek. Looking forward to your post on Finland. Is it true Helsinki is really clean and less polluted than most big cities in Europe? If so, we’re going! Tired of the smoke and diesel and motorbike fumes.

    Reply
    • So amazing, so honest, so friendly….you are so right! But I have one more to add to that: so efficient. Things work so well up here, I am truly in awe. But also kind of curious….which came first: the faith in people to rely on the honor system, or trustworthy people who made the honor system the only logical choice? It’s like a chicken and the egg type of thing hahaha 😉

      And yes, I’m still shocked at what happened. Utterly speechless. Not that Finnair and the Helsinki airport security team went through my luggage but that my jacket was folded and things were placed ever so neatly behind the zippered side pockets, instead of quickly stuffed instead the center area as I’d done at check-in. Probably looked like a homeless man hoarding newspaper for those cold winter nights. Anyway, nowhere else in the world would you find this kind of service. Except possibly for Japan — which interestingly enough does come up in my next article when I compare Finland with Japan in terms of politeness and honesty.

      Reply
  5. Thank you for sharing this fascinating story full of interesting facts, mood swings, disappointments and happy memories. I have not visited Finland yet and didn’t use Finnair service either but Helsinki is absolutely on my bucket list. After reading your post, Finnair will be my priority choice.
    I remember one time I was flying from Cusco to Lima on Avianca airlines and before entering the airplane I observed that everyone from the cleaning crew was searched by one of the security guys while exiting the aircraft after they have cleaned up the airplane between flights in attempt to prevent these guys stealing any items that might have been forgotten by the passengers from the previous flight.
    Thank you again for this wonderful post.

    Reply
  6. Hi Derek!
    We are having a quest on searching the person who has done this “thing” to your bag. Probably getting some nice surprise from the Company (Airpro), who does the security checks.

    Reply
    • Hey Anntsyu, that is awesome to hear! Honestly I’d like to know and say thanks, especially because of the strange conversation on Twitter. Would love to buy him/her a long drink (or three!) to show my appreciation. It’s been two weeks and I am still amazed…..so neatly folded! Not that I don’t pack neatly, I’m in the air nearly every week, but I often shove last minute items into my suitcase at check-in rather than delay the queue. Someone clearly went above and beyond here, whether with Finnair or Airpro, and if this is not S.O.P. then they deserve a raise! Or at least a couple free long drinks 😉 Keep me updated, cheers!

      Reply
  7. In case the security officers need to check something that might be prohibited(in this case I’m thinking the GoPro, because they sometimes look like a lose lithium battery, which are flammable), they need to open the suitcase and check the possible object(s) of danger. There is always at least two highly trained security officers presents, it’s done under the watchful eye of multiple cameras and the officers always pack the case as it’s their own, careful with each item.
    As awesome as Finnair is, in this case you can thank the security officers of Helsinki-Vantaa airport 😉 If you want to know the specific reason your suitcase was opened, you can contact the airport.

    Glad you had a happy experience and were please with the service you received!

    Reply

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