What did you write to get your interim purchases reimbursed from the airline that delayed your bag for several days away from home?
January 10, 2011 7:27 AM   Subscribe

What did you write to get your interim purchases reimbursed from the airline that delayed your bag for several days away from home? And how long did you wait and what was the response?

I'm drafting my letter to US Airways and wanted to hear your experiences with how you approached writing the letter. Harsh and forceful, writing about how much they screwed up while denouncing the overseas call center that has no clue? Or polite and calm, kindly explaining the frustration and reason for the letter, but maybe sounding too easy going to get their attention. Also, any rules that caught you out, or you used to back your claims. I've read a lot of guidelines online already (e.g.: http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/flyrights.htm#baggage and http://www.contacthelp.com/comment_list.php?listing=94 , etc.), now looking for personal experience from the mefi-hive. Thanks all!
posted by talljamal to Travel & Transportation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: Note: This was a domestic flight. Bag was delayed on transfer in Charlotte, between FL and NYC (JFK) day before New Year's Eve.
posted by talljamal at 7:33 AM on January 10, 2011

I've never written to an airline, but in my experience of writing complaint letters, "polite and calm, kindly explaining the frustration and reason for the letter" is the way to go. "Too easy going" doesn't come into it if you do actually describe the frustration and the full extent of the mistakes (logistical and customer service) the airline has made, and finish by saying that you will be taking your business elsewhere unless they can restore your faith by offering some form of "goodwill gesture" (i.e. compensation, but I think they like to say "goodwill gesture" as it doesn't admit a mistake on their part).
posted by EndsOfInvention at 7:47 AM on January 10, 2011

Don't you just fill out the form from the US Airways website and send it in with receipts? I wasn't aware that a letter was necessary. Personally, I would err on the side of saving the bitching for another time and just focus on getting the clerical worker the info he/she needs to get your check cut.

Everyone I know who's had to do this has gotten reimbursement without a hitch - even purchasing full outfits for business meetings, etc.
posted by Sweetie Darling at 7:48 AM on January 10, 2011

When writing US Airways, I've personally found that CCing (sending a copy of the actual letter that is) to the US Department of Transportation Aviation Consumer Protection Division is a good idea. Actually write CC: US DOT, Aviation Consumer Protection on your letter, so USAir knows you sent it to them.

I've had the unfortunate need to request several refunds from US Airways over the past four years for their various screw-ups. On several occasions, they hadn't even bothered to reply after several months, but when I CC'd a follow-up letter to DOT, I got my refund promptly. Other letters that I CC'd DOT on initially also got a response. It's not conclusive proof by any means, but my experience is that it does seem to help, and it certainly can't hurt.

They will most likely send you a "travel voucher" with credit toward a future flight instead of an actual check. They will do this even if you're requesting reimbursement for actual cash expenses. The voucher, of course, has restrictions, and will probably expire within a year, though it might be worth more than the dollar amount you asked for. If this doesn't work for you, I'd specifically state that you do not want a voucher and want an actual refund check. No guarantees they will actually comply however, but it's something you should be aware of.

Otherwise, be brief and simply state what they did wrong, what expenses you incurred as a result of their error, and what you want in return. Happy flighting!
posted by zachlipton at 8:00 AM on January 10, 2011

Head over to FlyerTalk.com and do some research and/or post this question. Pretty much any question to do with air travel... that should be your first stop.
posted by FlamingBore at 11:15 AM on January 10, 2011

Response by poster: So it turns out I just completed the form and sent it off with all the receipts and stubs from the travel ticket and bag tags that I had. No letter, but I did add a short line under the taxi receipts totalling $100 to explain I had to pick up my bags myself, before leaving town.

I received almost all of the money I asked for in reimbursement, but strangely it was short by some random amount close to 38 dollars or so.

Luckily it all happened in less than two months from when I submitted the paperwork.

Thanks for all your advice.

For future reference, on longer trips like this one with a checked bag, I'll take photos of the articles in my bag, and generally will begin to keep receipts for purchases over $150, since that is what they want to see if they have lost the bag and you want reimbursement for those items.
posted by talljamal at 1:07 PM on March 9, 2011

Cool, thanks for the follow-up.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 1:42 PM on March 9, 2011

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