At 45 minutes after the flight landed, we gave up and went to AirTran's baggage service office. There were our bags--the AirTran employee said they'd been removed from the belts for security after we didn't pick them up. Could the bags have gotten to the terminal, spun on the carousel until considered abandoned, been removed and the flight info taken off the board, all in the 15 or so minutes before I got there? Or perhaps the flight just never got posted on the baggage status board. The real mystery to me is where the other bags from my flight were. Did I miss hearing an announcement of the carousel number (if so, my friend did too)? Do so few people check bags now with the fee$?
In any case, I waited an unnecessary 30 minutes or so after a long week of travel. Next time, I'll head straight to the baggage office if my flight isn't on the board.