Baggage Problems
COMPLAINT: Baggage Claim Office in Vegas

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Old Dec 13, 2011, 1:22 PM
akutler akutler is offline
Join Date: Dec 2011
Posts: 1

I am a longtime silver elite member on Continental, and have long been worried about the high standards of customer service I have experienced with that airline being diminished as the merger with United progressed. My worries came true last weekend. I should also point out that I am not a complainer, am very understanding that mistakes can happen, and have a personal rule never to take out my frustrations on the individual who is not at fault, just a representative of the company that made the mistake.

On December 7, I was flying from Washington Dulles to Las Vegas, with a connection at LAX. As a silver elite member, my suitcase was tagged with a Priority baggage tag. I arrived in Vegas at 9:30PM, and my bag was nowhere to be found. Because I had a short turnaround in LA, I assumed my suitcase missed my connecting flight. But the young man in the baggage claim office informed me that my bag never made it on to my original flight in Washington, which is mind boggling considered I dropped the bag off 90 minutes before my flight departed. Using the tracking number, he informed me that the bag was on the current, later flight from Washington, and would arrive around midnight. It would then be delivered to my hotel, which is in the suburbs of Las Vegas, about 40 minutes from the airport.

It did not arrive that night, nor did it arrive that morning. It showed up at my hotel at 4PM, roughly 19 hours after I had arrived, and I was still wearing the same clothes I had traveled in. I was thankful to have my suitcase because I had a wedding rehearsal dinner to be at, at 7PM. But when I opened the suitcase, all of my clothes were soaking wet. And they smelled, from being wet for a full day and packed tightly in a suitcase. My guess is that the suitcase was left outside at Dulles Airport, which was having heavy rain storms when I departed. One-third of my trip to Vegas was already over, I was still in my jeans and t-shirt from the day before, and now I had a suitcase full of wet clothes.

I called United Baggage claim to ask them what I was entitled to, in terms of buying new clothes for the short-term and getting some of my clothes dry-cleaned. I was told I needed to take the suitcase to the airport to get it inspected by the agent there so they could determine the damage and compensation. I drove 40 minutes back to the airport (I had to be at a rehearsal dinner at 7PM, and all I had was the jeans and t-shirt I had traveled in and had been wearing for 36 hours) and spoke to the agent in the baggage claim office. She looked at the suitcase, and noted the suitcase itself was dry. I pointed out to her that when water-resistant suitcases get wet, they dry out quickly. But not the contents. She then admitted the clothes were wet, but couldn’t really smell anything. I asked her to pick the clothes up and smell them individually, and she refused…she thought this was somehow beneath her. She asked if I had any liquids packed in the bag that may have leaked…I said no, and said I would need to have had a 3-gallon jug of water in there to get everything that wet. She then said I needed to call the 1-800 number and deal with them. I stepped out of the baggage office and did so, and this person insisted that the airport agent was the one I needed to talk to. I kept him on the line, went back into the office and asked the agent to speak to her colleague. She refused! I told the guy on the phone, and he asked me her name. She told me her name was CHARLENE. When I asked her for her last name, she said “You don’t need that”. The 1-800 guy apologized, said there was nothing more he could do, and suggested I call United customer service. I then asked CHARLENE to call her supervisor, who apparently wasn’t on location. I heard her talking to her supervisor, KATIE, and amazingly, CHARLENE was all but calling me a liar. She said the suitcase was dry, some of the clothes were wet, “the customer says they smell but I don’t really smell anything”, and they had received no other complaints of wet clothes (gee, I wonder how many other people flew from Dulles-LAX-LAS the previous evening and lost their bags). She then hung up with KATIE, and told me that all I could do was contact United Customer Service.

I am aware of the airline’s 24 hour lost bag rule and compensation. Nonetheless, I needed to purchase some new clothes and get others dry cleaned so I had something to wear on my trip. I spent the first day of my trip with no suitcase, attending a wedding rehearsal dinner in jeans and a t-shirt, and spent the next day or two waiting for all of my other needed clothes (shoes, running shoes, workout gear, pajamas, shirts, jeans, etc) to dry out.


On my way home, going through O’Hare, I went to the customer service desk and spoke to a very nice lady, who did what she said was the most could do for me…she sent me a $125 voucher for my next trip. I appreciate this and her attitude, very much so, but will be requesting much more from United. My trip was ruined, and I spent $450 on that plane ticket. I had to buy $50 worth of new clothes, and $30 of dry cleaning. Worst of all was CHARLENE, who has no idea what the concept of customer service is. Never once did either she or the young man I saw on that first night apologize for my situation. I simple “I’m sorry, we screwed up”….NOTHING. And then casting doubt on what happened to my luggage, and all but calling me a liar. This is unacceptable. This is how United treats elite members? I have been loyal Continental OnePass elite member for years, but this one experience has made me seriously consider switching my allegiance to a carrier that has a better concept of customer service than United.
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Old Dec 13, 2011, 3:29 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Charlene got it into her head you were a liar and had gone to the trouble of wetting your own clothes, calling numbers repeatedly for assistance and then travelling 40 minutes out to the airport, to get compensation in the princely sum of $80. Charlene is burned out and is an idiot/

At the minimum United owe you the cost of dry cleaning your clothes, the purchase of emergency supplies (to which you are legally entitled regardless of whether the claim they mishandled your suitcase was true or not) and have provided a token gesture towards another ticket.

Personally, I would not ask for anything more. Instead, I would focus my fire on Charlene.... she is stupid and deserves to be humiliated. Write your most scathing letter..and if they don't respond appropriately switch to another carrier.... the big dilemma is who? Standards are low across the board!
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Old Dec 16, 2011, 10:31 AM
Airline Employee (NOT OFFICIAL REP)
Join Date: Dec 2011
Location: Bangkok, Thailand
Posts: 42


This should have been better handled.. I think the LAS agents questioning was commensurate, in that her asking things like "did you have liquids inside?" and the like would be prudent questions to ask as a part of a larger investigation and asking such-- so long as it's done tactfully, I don't see an overt act of asserting blame to the passenger..

That said, I do NOT like the telephone tag game.. Airlines the size of UA (as UA and CO are now cleared by the FAA to operate under one AOC) should have better processes in place to insure that these things are handled on a more consistent basis..

IF it needs to be inspected, then so be it, but lets make sure that after doing so, the processes doesn't become a game of tag-- come get inspected, then call, no- go back to the office, etc.

Whatever the process needs to be, let's have it be that and be consistent so that dis-serviced passengers aren't further dis-serviced by a confusing and inconstently applied process.

As far the agents conduct when in the view or 'ear shot' of the OP, that's just wrong.. plain and simple..

She may have thought the OP was "a liar".. that's OK for her to think that.. I mean it's hard to control what one *thinks*.. and I don't have an issue per se, communicating her feelings or suspicions to her supervisors, but it's NOT acceptable to do so in front of the passenger. I'd also expect a good supervisor to not only take what their agent has told them, but also to do their own investigation as well.

She should have had more tact and said something like "Can you excuse me for just a few minutes, I need to speak to my supervisor on the matter. I will be right back with you in X minutes."

I also dislike the exchange about her last name.. I think it was in very poor taste to say simply "you don't need that.."

I think there's a whole lot of better ways to address this..

My carrier doesn't endorse the disclosing of last names.. but... to balance that with the real need for accountability - both good and bad- we are required to disclose our first name (or whatever our internal ID shows) and IF our last name is not present, we must disclose our full employee ID number..

So what I'd say in that scenario is something like...

"I'm sorry, but for personal safety reasons, we don't disclose our full names to passengers, but I'll be more than happy to write down my first name and my company ID code which anyone else can use to readily identify me within the company."

but again, like a lot of things in life, it's also HOW you say it.. I can say this and come off as a smart-a$$.. I can also say it, and look you straight in the eye, and be totally honest with you.. so delivery also counts too.

I think this is a fair balance between an employees right to have their personal identity protected and the need for proper accountability.

I think in the totality, UA owes you what you mention was missing from the start, a sincere "We're sorry".. and to the extent that it is, to make you whole for appropriate and document-able damages.
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Old Mar 21, 2012, 7:20 PM
pa09d pa09d is offline
Join Date: Mar 2012
Posts: 1

charlene's last name is goodsby. i know because she's still working there and still being outrageously rude and making up total lies, except now, she's the boss!
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Old Mar 22, 2012, 8:24 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

That says all you need to know about United...Charlene Goodsby, Idiot in Chef, gets promoted
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