Lost baggage dead end -- help

My wife just returned from a trip to the east coast and on her return trip she was bumped from one airline (United) and a day later was redirected onto another (Delta). She returned two days later, but her baggage has yet to arrive.

The final leg was with yet another carrier (Great Lakes). The local airport 30 miles away has been calling and trying to run down the bags, but to no effect. My wife has tried going on line, but nothing there.

We have tried using the phone numbers listed on both Delta and United’s websites, but no human beings seem to be involved. In fact United’s computer seems to think our last name is “I don’t know.” We get to the part where the computer says, “What is the name of the person filing the report of the lost luggage?” We say our name and the computer responds, “I understood you to say you don’t know the name of the person filing the report.”

I seem to remember hearing of a website or phone number for people whom the airlines are screwing over. Does anyone know what it is?

Over and above chothes and such, one of the bags has my wife’s meds in it and we definitely need that.

According to the probabilities that the airlines give as their permanent loss rate, I may be the person in the world with mine lost permanently the most at 6 times (and at least twice that for a day or more). No one can explain it.

Anyway, I greatly sympathize with your plight. I can’t tell you how to fix it directly but I can give you a couple of tips. If it comes down to filing a permanently lost bag report, you can’t actually report what was in the bag and actually expect them to pay for it. They basically only reimburse you for depreciated clothes and a few toiletries…no books, electronic equipment and even jewelry for most airlines. That means that to get back the full value of what you rally had in there, you need to make it up in reporting fancy suits and things like evening gowns. Go through expensive catalogs and just write it down as brand new. You may think this is unethical but there is no way around it if you actually want the value of what you had in there.

The second point is to make them do all the work if they find it. They can and do hire couriers every day for the purpose of returning bags so just tell them where and when to meet them. This became a Christmas tradition for me and my wife three years in a row while we waited for the couriers to return our bag 100 miles from the nearest airport so that we could give people our presents. I can’t explain how that happened so much and it really sucked.

On a reread, your troubles are more basic. You do need to go to the airport and get in the lost luggage line at one of the carriers she used (I can’t say which one). It is sometimes only open just after flights arrive and it is sometimes handled at the regular counter in smaller airports. You never indicated that she filled out a tracer form but maybe she did. That is the first step. The airlines will actually try to find it for just a little while and then give up forever and send you the reimbursement forms that I warned you about above. They will screw you hard on those if you don’t follow my advice giving you maybe 1/3 replacement value for the contents. Permanently lost luggage often ends up in a town in Alabama (literally) that then sells it off to the public. She needs to call her doctor about replacement meds right away because there is certainly no guarantee that she will ever see any of it again. Being forced to switched carriers in mid trip caused four of my permanent losses which is swell when the airlines make you do it yet can’t get your bags there as well.

Note that lately many airlines have been going through outrageous lengths to throw up obstacles for people trying to claim compensation. USA Today, the WSJ, and many other news sources read by frequent travelers have been reporting on this. Delta is especially odious in this regard, and I speak as an ex-Delta Platinum Medallion flyer.

One note - your wife’s medicine, sadly, is almost certainly not covered under the terms of the contract of carriage. I found that out when my spare insulin and syringes were stolen from my bag long ago.

However, hope is not lost in the end. I’ve read of numerous people who are turning to small claims court very successfully to sue for their lost luggage. In many cases the airline does not even bother to show up, and one USA Today report I read said that judges more and more are just awarding the plaintiffs the statutory maximum (often as much as $5000) if there is any good basis for the claim of the lost bag. A co-worker did this and exactly that happened.

Having been put through the run-around many times by the airlines, I strongly urge you to go through the motions, document your progress, and then when they refuse to cover your goods or start demanding original notarized receipts for her knickers and toothpaste, don’t get mad - pay the minimal fee and take them to small claims court. Really, it’s worth it.

You are not inspiring us people. But I appreciate the honesty and help. Often honest news is not the best news, I realize that. Thanks.

Obviously, as you both know, this is very frustrating.

Thanks again.

This is a very long shot if you don’t find it at all.

To the best of my knowledge, all lost luggage that is not returned to the customer eventually ends up at the lost luggage center in Scottsboro, Alabama. I don’t know the official name of the place, but Scottsboro is a very small town and everyone knows what you are talking about when you refer to it. You might be able to find the number on the internet.

You could ask them what becomes of medication that has a person’s name on it. It is probably removed before it gets to them, but maybe they have some idea.

Did you have your name and address anywhere inside the luggage or on a tag outside?

Try GetHuman.com or NoPhoneTrees.com for instructions on how to bypass the phone tree menus and get to a real human being.

(But that’s still no guarantee that they will help you with this problem.)

I can. It is the first carrier’s responsibility for the bags. If you have not filed a report with United, do it right now.

And sometimes, the place I worked in college used to work for would send a representative in a UHaul to buy it in bulk, and use them for explosives tests and/or demonstrations. They’d go pick up desks, chairs, used computers (that had all the good stuff removed, basically just the shells) and fill briefcases with explosives for part of the training. Here is the final shot, although you won’t see the briefcase or the house which is about 50 feet away.

ETA: That shot is slowed down, by my estimate, about 1000 times. [/Off Topic]

Sorry to hear that your bags were lost, and good luck getting them back. I also learned the hard way to NEVER EVER pack important medicine in checked baggage.


Thanks everyone - We used the suggested website and found a way to bypass the United computer voice and it work so we got to talk to four people in India. The upshot of that was that they said. “I am very, very sorry sir but the responsibility for you luggage does not fall to us it rests with your final carrier.”

So we called Great Lakes and predictably they said, “I don’t know why they told you that, sir. That responsibility is the initial carrier’s.”

In addition, Great Lakes said the company policy says they are not allowed to assist us in looking for lost luggage for more than five days from the time of the arrival of the passenger.

What level of hell have we arrived in?

I want to point out that our name, address, phone number, and email address are on both bags.

That back and forth shirkfest you describe is so typical that it could be used for a drinking game.

Seriously, I know it’s not the answer you likely want, but document this run-around, and go to small claims court. If you follow the basic instructions and get your ducks in a row, you are certain to win a hell of a lot more than the airline would ever think of giving you. I mentioned others doing it; confirmation with my co-worker who did it confirmed they ended up with something like $3000 in award (minus something like $100 in fees) for $500 worth of luggage. And the company paid by a check within 30 days.