‘Emotionally spent': Tourist who came to Ireland to spread parents’ ashes discovers her lost bag containing their remains is in Chicago

Donna O'Connor

Ms O'Connor's luggage has been delivered back to her home in Chicago

Patricia and Robert Emmett O’Connor, the parents of Donna O'Connor

Donna O'Connor

Donna's parents, Patricia and Robert Emmett O’Connor

thumbnail: Donna O'Connor
thumbnail: Ms O'Connor's luggage has been delivered back to her home in Chicago
thumbnail: Patricia and Robert Emmett O’Connor, the parents of Donna O'Connor
thumbnail: Donna O'Connor
thumbnail: Donna's parents, Patricia and Robert Emmett O’Connor
Seoirse Mulgrew

The luggage belonging to American tourist Donna O’Connor, that contains her parents’ ashes, has been delivered back to her home in Chicago.

Ms O’Connor (67) travelled to Ireland on June 30 to spread some of her parents’ ashes on a family farm.

However, when she landed at Dublin Airport, her baggage, that included the remains of her parents, Patricia and Robert Emmett O’Connor, was nowhere to be found.

She then spent seven days going back and forth from Dublin Airport in a desperate attempt to locate her bag.

Ms O’Connor said the woman that is currently renting her house in Illinois said her bag was delivered there today.

She now has to wait for a family member to go to her house to confirm that her parents’ ashes are safe and intact.

“I’m so frustrated with Air Canada because I want them here, that’s why I brought them with me,” she told Independent.ie.

“It doesn’t help me to have it back in Illinois; it (luggage) was ticketed to go to Dublin. I don’t understand why it didn’t go to Dublin. And even if it didn’t come with me, why wouldn’t you send it to Dublin?

“I think it’s there (Chicago) and I’ll be very, very grateful that my parents’ ashes are safe, but I still want them to be here with me.

“I have no idea where this bag has been spending the past 12 days. I would have gone to wherever it was if they had just told me."

The responsibility for lost luggage lies with individual airlines, not Dublin Airport operator, DAA.

DAA said passengers who cannot locate their baggage should make direct contact with their airline or the airline’s ground handling company, with numbers available on the DAA website.

Ms O’Connor said she received a voice mail from Air Canada on yesterday, telling her that they had located her bag and would be returning it to Chicago. She tried to get in touch with the airline but was unable to do so.

She travelled to Ireland with her cat, which was then considered her carry on luggage. She therefore had to pack her parents’ ashes in her checked in bag.

She said: “I had a one-way call from them without a follow-up call or a number to call to contact them..

“It’s still a great disappointment to me that I don’t have them here with me and that I’m unable to do what I intended to do on this trip.

“Their job is to get people and their belongings to their destination, that’s what we paid for and that’s the expectation and that’s the core of their business and they only did half of it and caused a lot of problems with all of it."

Ms O’Connor intends to stay in Ireland but said the ordeal has been “financially overwhelming” as she has been forced to buy new clothes and essentials.

“The good outcome that could have come from it would have been for Air Canada to call and say, ‘we have your bag, where are you? We’ll get it to you’,” she said.

“The last place I would have expected is for them to send it back to the point of departure.

“I do plan to stay for a while; it’s not what I wanted. I just feel emotionally spent and the thought of going back into the chaos of travel right now and complicating it with having a pet with me, I just don’t have it in me.

“Now I’m as far from my parents’ ashes as I’ve ever been. They’ve always been in my bedroom, this is just crazy.”

A spokesperson for Air Canada told the Irish Independent on Saturday: “We deal with our customers directly, but we can tell you this customer’s delayed bag is en route.

“The vast majority of customers arrive at their destinations with their bags.

“However, recently there have been more instances of delayed bags, and this and other challenges for the industry are a phenomenon being seen around the world as the air transport system reawakens after Covid.

“One reason is there are more people travelling and more bags. Second, the operating environment globally has changed from what it was prior to the pandemic, notably the well-documented issues such as security and customs lines, aircraft being held at gates unable to unload at airports, and limitations on the number of flights by air traffic control.

“All these can disrupt airport operations, particularly baggage handling and baggage connections.”

Independent.ie has contacted Air Canada for further comment.