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Delayed and Damaged Luggage: a Cautionary Tale

Delayed and Damaged Luggage: a Cautionary Tale

Feb 16th, 2007, 10:33 PM
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 2,461

Thank you for posting. You made me more aware and I plan on getting an insurance for my upcoming trip to Paris. I am sorry for what you had to go through, I understand why the situation got to you.

I hope you still had a great time. Did you eat some crepes with bananas and nutella? Yum!

cafegoddess is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 02:09 AM
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 17,226
I've had bags replaced by Delta twice and perhaps the "secret" was that a Delta agent saw the actual damage in person. BTW, in neither case did I ask for a replacement bag. In the first situation, a corner with wheel was crushed and noticed upon arrival in Hawaii. I took it to the baggage claim agent to have it documented, and then per their instructions, dropped the bag off to them for repair after I returned home. Two days later a box was on my front porch - with a brand new piece of luggage. I assume it was cheaper to provide a new suitcase than repair the original.

Over 10 years later, after pretty much constant use as a road warrior, THAT bag appeared on the carousel in Boston with a busted zipper and clothes spilling out. I took the bag to the baggage claim office to ask for a box for my belongings. They offered a new suitcase - and I mightily tried to refuse. They brought a new bag (wrapped in plastic) to the counter and I transferred the contents from old busted, Delta replaced bag to brand new Delta supplied bag.

So, 1 original bag (plus 2 Delta replaced suitcases) gave me almost 20 years of service. My experiences were the polar opposite of yours - so I suppose the difference was having an agent see the damage in person. It's hard to know what the "right" answer would have been, but perhaps it would have been to take old, busted (empty) suitcase with you back to the airport so it could have been documented by a human being. If I read correctly, AA had told you that emailed pictures would not suffice.

Airlines do not like to delay or lose bags. It happens and different people react differently to the same circumstances.

If your bag has been completely "lost", you may want to travel to Alabama to see if yours - and its contents - are for sale at the Unclaimed Baggage store. Lots of lost bags end up there.

starrsville is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 04:07 AM
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 52,444
Hi, Indygirl, sorry about your travails with the luggage. I will be reading my travel insurance policy about loss of luggage a little more carefully now.

You may be interested in a current BBC news story, about some British American Airlines passengers, presently stranded at JFK due to weather. Despite official promises of food, sleeping bags, etc. etc., it is reported that they have in fact seen nothing of this, not even a cup of coffee, and have been referred to BA for flights home!

guess that AA may be running some customer service training soon!
annhig is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 06:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Good story! No one has asked why the bag was delayed. I bet it was solid black and without any distinguishing marks. I bet it lacked an oversize identification tag. Next; Elementary bureaucracy courtesy; a bit of sugar and a smile....Bring in a notebook and ask for names and numbers. "I want to be able to explain all this to your customer relations department, especially your name correctly".
GSteed is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 06:58 AM
Join Date: May 2003
Posts: 1,265
------Next; Elementary bureaucracy courtesy; a bit of sugar and a smile....Bring in a notebook and ask for names and numbers. "I want to be able to explain all this to your customer relations department, especially your name correctly". -----

This may work quiet well in the US but it will produce the polar opposite of the desired result in France.
MorganB is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 07:12 AM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 1,510
Hi Kate!
What a royal pain that must have been. I'm glad you finally got it straightened out, anyway.

I rarely check luggage outbound to my destination for fear of something like that happening. On the way home I usually check my bag, because then it doesn't matter if it gets there right away or not. (and usually I've done some shopping so I've had to e-x-p-a-n-d my bag to hold everything.

And actually with the new liquids regulations, what I like doing is to buy all new toiletries at my destination anyway. Now all my favorite brands are French!

Last fall when we went to Provence, two couples in our group didn't get their luggage until the 4th and 5th day of their one week trip. My poor sister-in-law had to wear the same clothes for 5 days straight! (thank goodness we had a washer and dryer)

The other couple had taken some things in a carry-on bag, and they said it made them realize how much less they could get along with.

My worst experience personally was coming home from a trip, so it didn't matter so much. We were on our way home from Italy on Air France connecting in Paris, and because of a luggage handlers strike our luggage had a nice vacation in Paris without us, and we didn't get our bags for 8 DAYS!

Anyway, sorry about your experience, and thanks for posting about it.

Any Indy GTGs on the horizon?
marcy_ is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 07:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Just because I would have acted or reacted differently, does not make my post "judgemental" of someone else's experience. I thought Fodor's forum was for sharing ideas on how to cope with various situations when you travel. I meant my comments to fall into that category.
suze is online now  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:28 AM
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 2,224
I'm at a point where I'm willing to pay a little more to avoid checking. The risk of lost luggage cramping my vacation style is too high and I know it would really impact an otherwise carefully planned trip -- I'm not as laid back as some of you.

Each one of my packed items has been carefully chosen with weather, venue, and aesthetics in mind -- I'm not going to be happy going to a Monoprix buying things I neither want nor like. Much of my clothing comes from outlets and it took a long time to track these deals down -- I wouldn't be able to afford replacing at full price and I wouldn't be able to find most of it anyway since it's often not current season.

I try to avoid connecting through EU airports where the carry-on restrictions are just too strict. I don't fly through LHR anymore (outbound) since it's virtually impossible to carry-on through the UK. This sucks since the LHR is usually the cheapest (not so much now with the new taxes) but I'm willing to pay more to know I'll have all my stuff with me on vacation.

Overall, I end up spending up to $1800 on each trip so another $75-100 to ensure that I won't have my vacation ruined (or permanently lose some of my favorite things) seems like a decent investment.
fishee is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 08:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Indygirl - well that all sucked! I've also had bags delayed, and I can sympathize with you that it's no fun! I've travelled with only a carry-on, but I've also had to check bags (when travelling with ski equipment and ski clothes in the wintertime, also travelling with a baby requires bringing beaucoup stuff)! So, it's not always feasible.

And it's going to get much harder to travel with just a carry-on in 2 months when the new European rule of only 1 carry-on goes into effect (no separate personal item allowed like totes or purses). So, as paying customers are we going to just be passive when our luggage does not arrive or arrives in an unusable manner? I mean, it will be increasingly hard to bring more than 1 extra outfit, a guidebook, a toothbrush, and a tiny toothpaste in our carry-on, so shouldn't we expect the airlines to do their job and deliver our bags in an usable condition?
Mariarosa is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 09:24 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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Mariarosa--I was thinking the same thing with the new regulations coming into effect soon.

We have always traveled light, with just a carryone and a purse. But it looks like our trip in June will require us to check our bags. Not thrilled with that at all, especially after reading all of this. We did buy trip insurance, but like everyone else, we hope we don't need it. Our flight is nonstop, so hopefully that will help.

Indygirl--Sorry to hear about your fiasco. I would be upset too. I think I will take a pic of our bags before we have to give them up. At least your story gets all of us to thinking of ways to help avoid this. Too bad there is no one answer.
mms is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 10:23 AM
Join Date: Jul 2003
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I've had problems with AA myself. This was a number of years ago, when my bag arrived at LAX in complete disrepair. It had been run over by the baggage cart. The clothing inside the bag had tire tracks on them!

The agent at the gate saw the bag and suggested that I go out and buy a comparable new one. I did, because without a suitcase I'd have no way to get my things back home. The damaged one had to be tossed in the trash.

To make a long story short, it took about 6 months for AA to pay for the replacement bag, even though I did what the gate agent told me to do. I had to send letters to all of the higher ups in the AA company to get any satisfaction at all. Sounds like you did better than I did, in the long run.

This sort of thing is very frustrating, to be sure. I'm glad you managed to enjoy your vacation.
simpsonc510 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 10:36 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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what new travel restrictions? and where can I find them. going boston to florence in June via frankfort.

already tight enough with 18lbs carry on and one personal item.
Joanel is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 12:07 PM
Join Date: Oct 2006
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Maybe I travel differently than most, but since I haven't been buying luggage insurance for all the trips I've taken in the past 10 years, I could afford to buy an entire set of new luggage and replace my entire wardrobe with the savings if they ever do get lost or damaged.
NeoPatrick is online now  
Feb 17th, 2007, 12:23 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
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adding to Joanel's question - what are the new restrictions? Your purse is considered a carryon?
Anna1013 is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 12:51 PM
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i work at a major airport,the airlines for the most part do not handle your luggage.
the baggage handlers are usually not well paid and often don't give a s*** about dropped or missed bags.
that however is no excuse for many airlines being slow to properly compensate you when the bags do not show up or are damaged or pilfered.
it pays to put up a fight asap when you encounter a problem,and get names of the people you deal with!
sailorken is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 01:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2004
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No help to anyone travelling solo but for example mms, if I were you, your mother and your daughter I would each put one third of the items in each of the three pieces of checkin luggage. That way, unless all three checkin bags didn't arrive and decided to stay home or fly to say Japan without you, you would each have two thirds of your packed items if one checked
bag didn't arrive on your plane.

Like Patrick I have never purchased insurance for my luggage and contents. The only time I had luggage ruined was due to AA leaving everyone's out on the tarmac for hours during a terrible thunder storm. They replaced the luggage and paid for drycleaning but that was back when airlines believed in treating their customer properly and to compensate them when they didn't.

I don't meant this to critize but I can't imagine wearing the same clothes for days if my luggage didn't arrive with me. I would be out shopping for a few outfits and other necessary items to tide me over asap.

I do always mentally budget for emergencies and unexpected expenses. They come up on trips just like they do at home.

Air travel sure isn't the experience it was decades ago.
LoveItaly is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 01:19 PM
Join Date: Apr 2004
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Amen, LoveItaly. It's sure not the same. I can't imagine wearing the same clothes either & since I'm hard to fit it would be difficult to replace some clothes on a trip.

The other problem would be waiting around for the luggage. I rent flats & don't stay in hotels where bell staff would be accepting the late luggage.
Carrybean is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 01:22 PM
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"They replaced the luggage and paid for drycleaning but that was back when airlines believed in treating their customer properly and to compensate them when they didn't."

Wow, dear. You must be muuuuucccchhhh older than I thought. That must have been eons ago. LOL
NeoPatrick is online now  
Feb 17th, 2007, 05:44 PM
Join Date: Feb 2003
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Hmmn. Lots of food for thought here.

(LoveItaly - don't forget that in those days, one paid a heckuva lot more for the air ticket, all things considered. I know $750 sounds like a lot - but then again, if one were to compute, in 2007 dollars what one paid 30 years ago for a ticket to Paris, it would be more like the cost of today's business class tickets.)

Indygirl2, I have to admit, a 2 day delay would really screw up our itinerary. We usually head out by the second day if not the first. In light of your experience I'm devising an attack plan: I think I'd just buy a couple of souvenir t-shirts and rinse out undies and socks in the sink whilst wearing the spares I always tuck in the carry-on. Until I had time to do more shopping, I'd look like, well, someone who had scarcely a decent thing to wear, which would be true. But, but... I'd be darned if I would waste a moment of my vacation. I did a fast computation and my entire checked bag, with contents, comes to about 2 or 3 days worth of vacation costs. Spending time and effort on recovery of the original bag would be a law of diminishing returns. Yes, I know it sucks to lose stuff that one might have spent hours choosing, but it would suck just as much to lose time on a vacation one spent hours planning. Ergo, I'd do my best to get the airlines to compensate me but beyond getting some kind of written declaration at the airport, I'd be on my way and worry about undergoing the inevitable bureaucractic obstacle course for compensation later.

I can see it was a problem for you not having a hotel which supplied shampoo and soap. You also had no way of knowing whether your bag was gone for 2 hours, 2 days or 2 weeks. To save yourself some grief next time, consider tipping the front desk clerk to call in an 'order' to a drugstore, using their knowledge and experience of local products. One could then hop over to pick it up later. Ditto for any clothing items needed in a hurry. I do agree that the decision to place in your checked bag certain items like weather gear (e.g. hat and gloves) was unwise, but you have obviously learned for next time. By the way, I wouldn't necessarily give up on checked bags. It's a nice service to have, and over the course of a lifetime this sort of thing won't happen that often, thank heaven.

Now, the damaged bag part. Two words: Ziplock bags. They have saved my bacon, or at least my worldly goods, from many disasters. Security people love 'em - they can paw around and check your stuff easily. Plus, packed in Ziplocks, you can transfer your stuff from one bag to another in seconds. I would have bought another, inexpensive bag and hoped for the best in making a claim on the damaged one later.

I agree that it would be a nicer world if travellers didn't have to pick up the slack for the failings of this or that employee, but the tradeoff is the wonderful independence one gets in return. Of the two things, justice or independence/control, I vote for the latter - if only because in the long run it is generally cheaper and easier to get. Life is short, but the queue for good customer service is about as long as the one at the Department of the Newly Dead in that movie, 'Beetlejuice.'

Welcome back, and thanks for making me think about what to do in such a situation.
Sue_xx_yy is offline  
Feb 17th, 2007, 07:36 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
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LoveItaly--Great minds think alike...I was thinking we would do that

NeoPatrick--We have never purchased trip insurance before, until now. We did it for the medical, since our insurance is a bit different now.
mms is offline  

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