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Baggage Problems
COMPLAINT: Four days late, box ripped to shreds, denied that AA possessed box for 48 hrs, AA144

 
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  #1  
Old Dec 7, 2009, 11:40 PM
rostovru rostovru is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2

I flew CX BKK-HKG-SFO, then transferred to AA SFO-LAX-IAD. I received my bags at SFO for customs examinations before re-checking to the AA segments.

My SFO-LAX flight was late, making me miss my LAX-IAD segment. I was not rebooked on the next flight, but rather on a flight more than 24 hours later. I opted to stay in LA as I would be missing my event in Washington, and I have family in LA who I could visit in the meantime.

AA sent my bags on to IAD, however, and closed my reservation. One bag with personal effects was returned 48 hours later, but AA denied that it possessed the second bag - a bike box - until that time. I had to physically show them the baggage check ticket for them to awknowledge their possession of the box. In the meantime, I was offered no compensation for the suitcase that was delayed, even though it had all of my personal effects, because I live abroad, and my address with AA was registered as being in LA where I had scheduled to have my bags delivered.

When the bike box did arrive, it arrived in shambles. I am not understating this. I took pictures because it was so shocking. The box had been ripped apart, and items inside had been taped to the remainder of the box to keep them from spilling out. There was so little of the box left that it was amazing the baggage clerks could offer me the box with a straight face. It goes without saying that my $3500 bike was damaged - about $150. As a side note, I've travelled many times both trans-oceanic and trans-continental with my bike, and never had so much as a scratch on my bike as a result of baggage handling.

Keep in mind that I was the customer who was not yelling at the baggage claim people throughout the four days my box was lost. I was cooperative and respectful, and I spent hours both on the phone and at the baggage claim office at LAX resolving the issue. Even with this, I was never even offered an apology.

The baggage office suggested I contact Customer Service, which I did, and the agent offered as compensation 2,500 A'Advantage Miles, but denied responsibility per the contract of carriage, which states the AA does not assume responsibility for sporting goods unless packed in a hard case shell. Bikes are sent in bike boxes, hence relieving AA of any responsibility.

Even with this, I was told by the central baggage office when I was still waiting for the box's delivery that AA would absorb the cost of damages. Naturally the agent did not document such a promise in the baggage claim file.

After getting nowhere with AA Customer Service, I filed a Better Business Bureau report, which also got me nowhere. The same people at Customer Service reiterated their lack of interest in resolving the issue.

So be it. If this how AA handles it customers - albeit in a spectacular situation - others have a right to know about it. I used to fly AA all the time years ago, but one bad experience after another led me to slowly cash in my miles and call it quits with them. This last experience underlines my decision to never pay for an AA ticket again, and the sad thing is they could have redeemed themselves if they had just shown a bit of remorse for royally messing up.

A bit of fun regarding AA's response. Per AA's Barbara Russell, "Although we let you down, we are glad you took the time to let us know." Oh, thank you. I took the time to let you know so that you could be 'glad'.

Read on, "Mr. Roberts, I hope that your disappointment over that experience won't keep you from giving us another chance. I assure you that we intend to make a better impression the next time you fly with us." Oh, ok. I'm sure I intend to book another ticket on AA just to see if they can provide good service. After hundreds of thousands of miles of experience with them, I know the answer all to well.
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  #2  
Old Dec 8, 2009, 12:04 AM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
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Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,366

From your description I assume the "bike box" was cardboard? Might I suggest if you travel so much with such an expensive bike that you spend a couple hundred dollars on a durable hard-sided bike box that is designed for the rigors of air travel. I sometimes travel with my bike and it's the best investment I've ever made.

That being said, it is unfortunate that your bike was damaged. Did you make a declaration of excess valuation when you checked your bike in BKK? If not and if they deem that the cardboard box didn't provide sufficient protection (and they will) from normal handling then you're probably out of luck as far as any damage claims are concerned. Might I also suggest that in addition to investing in a more durable case you look into travel insurance that would cover damage to or loss of your bicycle. If any TSA agent or baggage handler realizes the value of your bike it just may go missing on a future trip.
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  #3  
Old Dec 8, 2009, 12:09 AM
rostovru rostovru is offline
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Posts: 2

I flew CX BKK-HKG-SFO, then transferred to AA SFO-LAX-IAD. I received my bags at SFO for customs examinations before re-checking to the AA segments.

My SFO-LAX flight was late, making me miss my LAX-IAD segment. I was not rebooked on the next flight, but rather on a flight more than 24 hours later. I opted to stay in LA as I would be missing my event in Washington, and I have family in LA who I could visit in the meantime.

AA sent my bags on to IAD, however, and closed my reservation. One bag with personal effects was returned 48 hours later, but AA denied that it possessed the second bag - a bike box - until that time. I had to physically show them the baggage check ticket for them to awknowledge their possession of the box. In the meantime, I was offered no compensation for the suitcase that was delayed, even though it had all of my personal effects, because I live abroad, and my address with AA was registered as being in LA where I had scheduled to have my bags delivered.

When the bike box did arrive, it arrived in shambles. I am not understating this. I took pictures because it was so shocking. The box had been ripped apart, and items inside had been taped to the remainder of the box to keep them from spilling out. There was so little of the box left that it was amazing the baggage clerks could offer me the box with a straight face. It goes without saying that my $3500 bike was damaged - about $150. As a side note, I've travelled many times both trans-oceanic and trans-continental with my bike, and never had so much as a scratch on my bike as a result of baggage handling.

Keep in mind that I was the customer who was not yelling at the baggage claim people throughout the four days my box was lost. I was cooperative and respectful, and I spent hours both on the phone and at the baggage claim office at LAX resolving the issue. Even with this, I was never even offered an apology.

The baggage office suggested I contact Customer Service, which I did, and the agent offered as compensation 2,500 A'Advantage Miles, but denied responsibility per the contract of carriage, which states the AA does not assume responsibility for sporting goods unless packed in a hard case shell. Bikes are sent in bike boxes, hence relieving AA of any responsibility.

Even with this, I was told by the central baggage office when I was still waiting for the box's delivery that AA would absorb the cost of damages. Naturally the agent did not document such a promise in the baggage claim file.

After getting nowhere with AA Customer Service, I filed a Better Business Bureau report, which also got me nowhere. The same people at Customer Service reiterated their lack of interest in resolving the issue.

So be it. If this how AA handles it customers - albeit in a spectacular situation - others have a right to know about it. I used to fly AA all the time years ago, but one bad experience after another led me to slowly cash in my miles and call it quits with them. This last experience underlines my decision to never pay for an AA ticket again, and the sad thing is they could have redeemed themselves if they had just shown a bit of remorse for royally messing up.

A bit of fun regarding AA's response. Per AA's Barbara Russell, "Although we let you down, we are glad you took the time to let us know." Oh, thank you. I took the time to let you know so that you could be 'glad'.

Read on, "Mr. Roberts, I hope that your disappointment over that experience won't keep you from giving us another chance. I assure you that we intend to make a better impression the next time you fly with us." Oh, ok. I'm sure I intend to book another ticket on AA just to see if they can provide good service. After hundreds of thousands of miles of experience with them, I know the answer all to well.
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Old Dec 8, 2009, 12:21 AM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: Shropshire, England
Posts: 3,197

Not sure AA can sustain their position on compensation for personal belongings if you are able to prove that you don't live in LA. I would consider a complaint to the DOT over that issue. As for the rest, the airlines seem to be adopting a position in which they are not responsible for anything that happens to your luggage. Your only recourse is bad publicity. Unless you are talented, like the United Breaks Guitars guy on Youtube. Suddenly United wanted to compensate him...and apologise. Funny that...
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