AKRON, Ohio - Tracy Bodnar was hoping a two-day bus trip from Seattle, Washington to her mother's home in Akron would go smoothly, unfortunately the trip took more than five days, and ended with a lost luggage nightmare.
Bodnar has been diagnosed with stage four cancer, and could no longer keep up with her job at a Seattle nursing home, so she decided to travel home for some holiday support from her family.
Bodnar told NewsChannel5 she paid Greyhound $289 for the trip, one she's made several times without incident. However, when she left Seattle on Dec. 2, it started an adventure she wasn't expecting.
Bodnar reports bad winter weather left her stranded in Billings, Montana. That was when she learned from customer service in Denver her luggage went missing.
"I was told from Denver, 'Calm down, your luggage is going to follow you. Believe me your luggage is going to get home,'" explained Bodnar.
"So I'm hearing this the whole way home, meanwhile my body is panicking because my entire everything is in there -- my medical information, my personal information, my professional information. There are things you can't put a price tag on."
Bodnar's worst fears were confirmed when she finally pulled into the Akron Greyhound terminal on Dec. 6. Her bags were lost, so she filled out all the proper paperwork to start a claim.
Bodnar explained how stunned she was when she learned how long it could take to find her luggage, or process the claim.
"They told me that they had up to two years to process this claim, and I was like two years -- a lot can happen in two years. I could be dead and gone in two years," said Bodnar. "They would only offer a $70 refund on my $285 ticket. I even paid an additional $25 for the luggage they lost."
5 On Your Side contacted Greyhound Headquarters and the company responded immediately. The company confirmed it is not a Greyhound policy to take two years to process a claim, and pledged to conduct a full investigation in the search for Bodnar's luggage.
Greyhound issued the following statement in response to our story:
"We sincerely apologize to Ms. Bodnar for the inconvenience of her misplaced luggage and we are working diligently to reunite her with the bag as quickly as possible."
"Greyhound has an extensive baggage matching process where if a bag is not claimed, it stays at the terminal for 30 days, and is entered into our lost baggage system. After 30 days, the bag is shipped to our baggage warehouse in Dallas where it stays for another 90 days, and is reentered into the lost baggage system. During that time, employees search the bags when it reaches the warehouse to find identification inside the bag if possible."
"If a passenger’s checked baggage is not found at the end of this process, they will receive a check from Greyhound for $250. Additional insurance can be purchased and customers may purchase up to $1,000 in baggage insurance."
Bus travelers should always take important personal belongings with them onboard the bus, and not pack them in their luggage.
Always keep your wallet and purse next to you. Beware of pickpockets. When making stops, and bags are being moved from the bus side storage compartment, keep an eye out for your luggage. Mistakes can be made when bags are being retrieved for other passengers.
More advice on bus travel can found on this website.
Meanwhile Bodnar's mother, Kathleen Dilworth, is hoping her daughter's luggage will be found, along with the important medical information key to her daughter's recovery.
"It's my miracle that I'm hoping for right now," said Dilworth with a tear in her eye. "It's Christmas time. What else can I do. I have to hope and pray -- that's all I can do."
NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com will keep you updated on this developing story.