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Baggage Problems
COMPLAINT: Baggage missing for one week

 
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Old Sep 9, 2010, 8:18 PM
AEW AEW is offline
 
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Last Thursday evening, September 2nd, my boyfriend and I flew nonstop from Dallas, TX to Dayton, OH, on flight #598. We arrived at the airport 90 minutes before departure and did curb-side check-in, where we checked one bag. We were going to a wedding for which I was a bridesmaid; I was smart enough to put the bridesmaid dress and all its accessories in my carry-on, but my boyfriend's suit, both of our clothes for the rehearsal dinner, and everything else we needed was in the checked bag. We went through security with no problem, and our flight left on time. We arrived in Dayton ten minutes early.

Upon arrival, we proceeded to the baggage claim, but our bag was not there. We then stood outside the American Airlines baggage window for 45 minutes before anyone even showed up to take our claim. When someone did finally show up, we gave him our information, including the fact that in the morning, we would be going to Pennsylvania, and they would need to get our bag to us there. He said they could give the bag to Continental Airlines, which flies to Erie, and our bag would be driven to us from there.

I also asked to have my $25 baggage fee refunded; after all, I had paid for the service of AA delivering my bag with me to Dayton, and they had not performed that service. He said he could not do that, and I would have to email customer relations. I did that as soon as I got to a computer that night.

My parents live near Dayton, so we flew there to visit them, but the wedding was actually six hours away by car, in Franklin, Pennsylvania. At 9:30 in the morning on Friday, September 3rd, my boyfriend and I got in the car and started our trip. On the way, I called AA several times to see if they had located our bag yet. I kept being told that our bag would likely be on an American flight landing in Dayton around 12:15, and they would forward it to Erie then. However, one lady also admitted that they could not be sure that my bag was on that flight since American Airlines doesn't "have a tracking system like FedEx, where they scan every bag every time it moves." She said they were in the process of installing that system right then.

Around 1:30PM Eastern time, I called again to see if my bag had landed. I was told that it hadn't, and it would likely be on the plane that would arrive in Dayton at 5:40 that evening. I asked the baggage representative, who possibly had the name of either Lillith or Lillian, if she knew if my bag had actually been located yet. She said no, they would only know the location of my bag after it arrived somewhere and somebody entered it into the computer system. I asked how she knew the bag hadn't been sent to Timbuktu, and the agent's response was, "If the bag was sent to f***ing Timbuktu, then we'll know when f***ing Timbuktu enters it into the computer." Unfortunately, I did not ask to speak with her supervisor.

When my boyfriend and I finally arrived at our hotel, we checked in and immediately ran to the nearest mall to get appropriate clothing for both of us for the rehearsal that night and for my boyfriend for the wedding itself. We went to JCPenney's and spent about $350 for two dress shirts, two ties, two pairs of slacks, and dress shoes for him, and one blouse, one sweater, one skirt, tights, heels, and jewelry (the one thing I would need for the actual wedding that had been in the checked luggage) for me. Almost everything we bought was on sale.

At 6:30 that evening, while I was at the wedding rehearsal, the American Airlines computer left a message on my phone that my bag had been given to the delivery company in Dayton and that I would receive it soon. Around 9:30 that evening, I called to speak with a real person and clarify what that meant. This representative told us that our baggage had been given to Delta Airlines (not Continental, as we had previously been told!), and that it would be flown to Erie via Cleveland first thing in the morning; it would likely arrive in Erie around 1:15 on Saturday afternoon. The wedding was supposed to begin at 2:00 and was a two-hour-long drive from the Erie Airport, so at that point, my boyfriend and I knew it would never arrive in time. However, we expected to have it when we returned from the wedding the following night.

I also mentioned the expenses we had incurred purchasing suitable replacements for the wedding. The woman asked if $150 would be enough, and she seemed quite unhappy when I explained just how much it had cost. Even so, we did not buy anything out of the ordinary, and we needed semi-formal and formal attire for the wedding and rehearsal dinner.

And so, around 9:45 in the evening on Saturday, September 4th, we came back to the hotel, excited to finally have our things... except that they hadn't arrived. Once again, I called American Airlines to figure out what was going on. They explained that the bag should be arriving in Erie from Detroit at any moment, but that the flight was delayed. Since my boyfriend and I were leaving again for Dayton in the morning, but we no longer trusted American Airlines to be able to get it to a location we would only be at for 24 hours, I told them to just send it back to Dallas.

The lady on the phone put me on hold and then tried to get in contact with Delta, which had my bag. She finally came back and said she couldn't get in touch with Delta, and they wouldn't give her the phone number for their desk in Erie. Thus, American Airlines gave my bag to a second company without any way to actually ensure the bag arrived at its destination, nor did American Airlines even know if the bag was in Erie. I asked to speak with her supervisor, and this woman offered to send a fax to both Delta and the Erie Airport.

As of that night, 48 hours after I emailed their customer relations department, I still had not received any response.

At 11:30 the next morning, Sunday, September 5th, I called the baggage department again. Their automated computer was still telling me that my bag had been given to the delivery company at 7:00PM on Friday and would be delivered within seven hours of that time (1:00AM on Saturday). I was transferred to an actual agent, a rude woman by the name of Dorothy, who continually spoke over me and would not listen to my questions. She, too, could not be connected to Delta or Erie because Delta officials would not give her the phone number. I asked her if she personally could tell me where my bag was. She said no. I asked her if any American Airlines agent or computer, anywhere in the entire world, could tell me where my bag was. She said no, but Delta had it and was taking care of it. I asked her who was responsible for my bag, and she responded that American Airlines was. I asked her if American Airlines could communicate with Delta to learn where my bag was, and she once again said no. Thus, I told her, American Airlines had lost my bag again. She said no, no, it wasn't lost, but really just delayed. I told her that the definition of the word "lost" is "not knowing where something is." She did nothing more to help me, and when I asked to speak with her supervisor, she told me she didn't have one.

My boyfriend and I stopped at Walmart on the way back to Ohio to buy basic necessities for the remainder of the trip: socks, underwear, t-shirts, etc. We spent approximately $150.

That night, I called American Airlines again to see if they had been able to contact Delta. No, they hadn't, the lady said. Delta wouldn't give them the phone number. I asked for Delta's number, and I called them. On the Delta baggage line, I spoke with a very helpful young lady named Brina. I explained to her the situation. She tried to look up my bag, but she discovered that because my bag was listed with American Airlines, even though it was now under Delta control, she could not track it. She said she needed more information that American Airlines had not provided. I confirmed her name and asked her if it would be possible for me to call back American Airlines, have them call the Delta baggage number, and have them ask to be transferred to Brina so the two of them could work it out. Brina confirmed that as a possibility, wished me luck, and said she would wait for the call from American Airlines.

I called American Airlines back. This time, though the lady admitted that American Airlines could not track my bag while it was in Delta control, she refused to call the number I provided and to ask to speak with Brina. This lady also read to me the address my bag was being forwarded to: 12345 Texas Parkway*... in Franklin, Pennsylvania. I corrected the address, and then I asked to speak with her supervisor.

The supervisor was a woman named Ray Robin, and although she also refused to call Delta, she was fairly competent. She confirmed that my bag was being sent to Dallas, and then she inquired as to how long I would be there. I said that it was my permanent address; she said that my permanent address was already listed as the hotel in Pennsylvania. I made sure she sorted that out.

She then flagged my file to mark that my bag needed to be forwarded, and she sent out some sort of high-priority memo to all of American Airlines and Delta.

Since it had been 72 hours at that point since they had lost my bag, I asked her how long I had to wait before they admitted that my bag had disappeared into the ether and would never be seen again. She told me that American Airlines had six days from the time I filed the claim. I stated that they then must have only three days more. At this point, she said that my file had only been created that day.

As it turned out, they created a new file for me when they rerouted my bag back to Dallas, and the timer is set from that one. They gave themselves three extra days. Ray Robin did, however, merge the new file with my old one.

She tried once more to call Erie, too. This time, she was given a phone number, but when she called, it had been disconnected. Finally she said there was no more she could do, and I hung up.

On Labor Day Monday, they still had no clue where my bag was, nor could they get in touch with Delta. My boyfriend and I flew back to Dallas, and in the airport, I spoke with the baggage representative face-to-face. She was able to confirm that the bag had in fact reached Erie, but nothing more.

Tuesday was more of the same: no further information. I did stop by Kroger to pick up a new hairbrush, shampoo, conditioner, soap, and lotion, since I no longer had access to the hotel's or my parents'.

On Wednesday morning, September 8th, I finally got a response to the email I had sent five days previous. Customer relations apologized for making me wait in Dayton and offered recompense for the charges we incurred on vacation, but they refused to refund the $25 baggage fee because, they said, it was not a delivery fee, but rather a handling fee. I immediately sent them another email explaining the nightmare we've been through (rude and vulgar customer service, still not having our bag, etc.) and demanding once again that we have our money refunded. Though it may be a handling fee, I said, I had yet to see any concrete proof that American Airlines had handled my baggage at all. Since I still didn't have it, for all I knew, the agent at the curb-side check-in on Thursday had gone home with my bag the very moment I left. Thus, they need to refund me. As of this very instant, I still have not received a reply.

Around noon on the same day, I called the baggage line again. This time, the representative was able to get through to the Delta counter in Erie. I think this lady must have magical powers, and I regret that I didn't ask to speak with her supervisor to tell him/her that she ought to get a raise and promotion. Anyway, she said that no one at the Erie Airport had any sort of forwarding information for my bag, and so it had just been sitting in their office since Saturday evening. She told them to get it to Texas, and I was informed that my bag would arrive in Dallas that night around 9:45 on Delta flight 3475.

This morning, at 9:30, on Thursday, September 9th, I called again to see when my bag would be delivered. The woman informed me that my bag had probably arrived at 6:40 this morning - not the previous day - on a US Airways flight.

I was, of course, incensed that they would deliver my bag to a third company when the reason for the majority of the problem was that they had given it to the second. It makes no logical sense. I understand that some flights were likely delayed last night by the severe weather brought by Hurricane Hermine, but they should not have transferred my luggage to a third carrier.

I was told that my bag would be delivered at some point today, but they couldn't give me an estimated time, and so I have had to stay in the apartment all day just in case they came by.

Finally, at 3:03 (fifteen minutes ago), the delivery man arrived with our bag, only about seven hours short of a full week since we were supposed to receive it. When I opened the suitcase, all the items inside were soaking wet. I made sure the delivery man marked that in his file.

I am happy to finally get my bag back, but I'm not looking forward to fighting American Airlines to get back the $25 baggage fee and the complete amount we had to pay for items to use until our bag came. As it stands, I will NEVER fly with American again.
*Though the word "Texas" does appear in my boyfriend's address, the street number and the rest of the street name are different.
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  #2  
Old Sep 9, 2010, 8:58 PM
azstar azstar is offline
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Posts: 375

By law, American cannot refuse to reimburse you for all "reasonable" expenses incurred as a result of your delayed baggage. Don't let them try to tell you "oh, our maximum compensation is $25.00 per day..." or anything like that. You will have to forward the original receipts for the items you purchased, so make copies for yourself and , if you have to mail them to AA, send them "return receipt requested" so they can't claim they never got your correspondence. Be firm, but polite. The law is on your side. Good luck.
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  #3  
Old Sep 9, 2010, 9:02 PM
AEW AEW is offline
 
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Thanks, azstar. I've been meticulous about keeping all the receipts and paperwork involved, so hopefully that will resolve itself.

I just spoke with a representative at the DFW Airport so that I could report my wet baggage. I told her I didn't think anything was damaged, but I can't be sure until my boyfriend gets home and tries on the suit to make sure it didn't shrink. This idiot lady seemed to think that if I just dry clean the suit, any shrinkage will magically fix itself. I asked to speak with her supervisor, and she refused. She was extremely rude for the rest of the conversation. I am so very, very sick of this airline.
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  #4  
Old Sep 9, 2010, 9:40 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Location: Shropshire, England
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American made a holy mess of this whole transaction. The airlines are vigorously defending the idea that they do not have to refund the fee if your bags go astray. This would make a big dent in their ancilliary revenue. They would probably offer you some kind of voucher, perhaps even more than the baggage fee, to avoid the priniciple of refunding your fee.

You should stick to your guns. "Reasonable" is a broad term, and if you are attending a wedding, then of course formal wear is required... the law is on your side and make it clear to AA that you will go to Small Claims Court if you have to, to assert your rights.

I have added Lillith to the Hall of Shame.... for her spectacular response to your Timbuktu... you should consider asking for a transcript of that call!!
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  #5  
Old Sep 10, 2010, 10:59 PM
AEW AEW is offline
 
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I still haven't sent in the receipts to get compensation for all that, but I did get a reply to my second email to customer relations, and I'm much happier with this one. As jimworcs predicted, although they won't refund my $25 baggage fee, they did offer me a $150 voucher to use on a future flight. I'll likely use it, but I'll make sure it's on a trip when I don't have to check any bags at all.
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Old Sep 10, 2010, 11:18 PM
jimworcs jimworcs is offline
 
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Don't accept or use the voucher until you have agreed the compensation for all the purchases you had to make. They may argue that you settled and no furhter comp is due. Be very careful, they are masters of deceit.
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  #7  
Old Dec 22, 2010, 7:16 PM
Researcher Researcher is offline
 
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Dear user: I am developing a Doctoral research on Mishandled baggage (see General Discussion- Mishandled Baggage Research ) Could you please, provide the airline complaint form (minus personal information) you filled with the airline or send me an email to [email protected] and I will send a survey. The survey is very similar to the one you must file with the airline and does not contain personal information.
Thanks before hand
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