Your bag is in [insert location here]
July 1, 2008 11:46 AM   Subscribe

Delta lost my bag and ruined an important business trip to Ukraine and Russia. Need advice for how to be appropriately compensated.

When I flew Delta--business class, if that makes a difference--from JFK to Ukraine two Sundays ago, Delta left my bag in NYC (apparently). What followed was a bumbling series of incompetent events that saw my bag not leave JFK, get stuck in Paris, then arrive in Kiev long after I'd left for Moscow, and then never make it to me, even after I returned to New York. I still don't have the bag, and I've been back for four days. Delta alternately claims they have it and that they don't.

The upshot for my trip is that I: (1) had to wear my traveling clothes in Ukraine and Russia, including a pair of brown casual slacks that wound up rather ripe, (2) had to purchase a new dress shirt and jacket in Ukraine ($500), (3) had none of my toiletries (including some prescribed skin cream that couldn't go into a carry-on), and (4) **the most important one to me** looked grimy and wasn't able to be at my best (or even adequate) for the clients I met up with in Kiev and Moscow. This is embarrassing to me, my group, and my entire company.

So I'd like to hear from people with some experience here about what approach works best in dealing with Delta in order to get them to compensate me adequately for this tragedy of a business trip. And yes, I'd still like my bag.
posted by yellowcandy to Travel & Transportation (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
In my family's experience with United, they had to wait 60 days or until their bag showed up before they could pursue any action. In the meantime, they found as many receipts as possible for the things in their bags, and tried to recreate complete lists of the things that were lost so that they could come back at them with a full arsenal.

Only one of the bags actually showed up, and it had been completely shredded. They were fully compensated, including the cost of the luggage.

Find out what what Delta's exact policy is so you know just how long you're going to have to wait before taking action. Keep in mind that you're only going to be able to be compensated for the tangibles. Having a bad business trip experience overall isn't going to mean anything to them. If it makes you feel better, be generous when you're estimating the costs of things you can't find receipts for.
posted by phunniemee at 11:59 AM on July 1, 2008

Be pleasant with all communication (written and telephone). Take copious notes of each interaction. Go "up-the-chain," as much as you can with an eventual letter to the President/CEO outlining how the loss of your luggage impacted your travel, busines dealing, etc. Be specific as to what remedy you seek. The executives at airline companies have people who deal specifically with the formal, written complaints they receive.

I assume they Delta has already given you a "10-digit file reference number" located on their "Property Irregularity Report." If the baggage does end up lost, you'll need that number and a Passenger Property Loss Claim form [PDF]. To get compensation, though, they require "original purchase receipts for individual items valued at $250 or above."
posted by ericb at 12:00 PM on July 1, 2008

Did you book and/or pay for your Delta ticket with an American Express Card? Many of their cards provide a Baggage Insurance Plan. "This is in excess of the Common Carrier's liability." If you do use Amex, in the future be aware of their Global Assist Hotline which is there to help you when you reach a destination and are without luggage, etc. Getting them "on-the-case" alongside you in a foreign country helps alot.

If you don't use Amex, check with the credit/debit card provider to see if they have similar coverage and assistance.
posted by ericb at 12:07 PM on July 1, 2008

I think you'll find that you won't be compensated for anything except the lost contents of the bag. They won't compensate you for the new clothes you had to buy, or for the hassle and inconvenience.

And when you ask for that, they'll point to fine print on the ticket which contains a contract that says that you agreed that all they owe you is compensation for the lost contents of the bag.

Unfortunately, they have all the cards. Unless you're a columnist for a major magazine and can cause them huge amounts of negative publicity, you're screwed.
posted by Class Goat at 12:11 PM on July 1, 2008

This is the kind of thing that The Consumerist specializes in. Even if they can't get you the compensation you deserve, at least you can get your story out there and give them some negative publicity for what sounds like a horrible job on their part.
posted by DMan at 12:14 PM on July 1, 2008

Did you pay full fare for your business-class ticket, or was it an upgrade? Do you have Medallion Elite (Silver/Gold/Platinum) status on Delta? (For that matter, elite status on Northwest might elicit sympathy, too.)

If the answer to either of those questions is "yes", make sure you cite that fact in all of your correspondence (preferably in the first paragraph). Airlines really do treat elites better.

Beyond that, I think it's the standard consumer complaint advice. Document everything, citing who said what, when it was said, etc.

A quick search of the Flyertalk Delta forum shows thread here, here and here on prior compensation experiences with Delta.
posted by QuantumMeruit at 12:40 PM on July 1, 2008

There are some good resources on this website

How Was Your Flight?

And you should also consider telling your story there to help spread the word about these kinds of experiences.
posted by krudiger at 12:47 PM on July 1, 2008

Easyjet lost my bag a few years ago and I have all my paperwork from the claim right in front of me.

First, I am assuming that you did not have travel insurance and that you have checked that your home insurance does not cover lost baggage.

You probably filled out a Property Irregularity Report when you reported you luggage missing. You'll need this for your claim.

You'll have to contact Delta and go through their process. IIRC, Easyjet said my luggage had to be missing for a certain amount of time before I could make a claim. Okay, so I waited, no baggage and they sent me a Lost Baggage Questionnaire that I needed to complete. I basically had to fill in the details of my flight, trip etc and I had to list each item that was lost. Fortunately, I packed everything and have a very good memory so I was able to compile what I think is a pretty accurate list. I also had to list the date and place of purchase as well as the purchase price. Almost everything had been bought within that year (or two), so I got my credit card statements for dates and prices. The small remainder of things I estimated.

I sent the above questionnaire and Property Irregularity Report with a covering letter that went as follows:

Dear Sirs,

Re: Flight No., Flight date, From: Airport 1, To: Airport 2

On my arrival at Airport 2, I discovered my luggage was missing. The carrier bag tag number is XX1234567
[I had the sticker with this number on it on my boarding card from when my baggage was checked]. Please note that my husband, Mr Triggerfinger, did not check a bag so this suitcase contained all his belongings as well. The suitcase was checked under my name. I informed your ground staff of the loss immediately, whereupon they completed a PIR and gave me a copy.

To date, I have not been contacted by you to say that you have found my luggage. As it is now 16 days since my flight and the luggage has not been located, I am writing to formally request that you compensate me for the loss of luggage, including associated costs, without further delay.

I invoke this right pursuant to Article 17.3 of the Montreal Convention, under which I am entitled to receive compensation from you.

Please find attached a full inventory listing each item contained within my lost luggage and its replacement cost, together with any receipts I could find, as well as credit card statements. Please note that most of the clothes had been bought within the last year and were in excellent condition. You will also find attached details of my flight, a copy of my PIR that was completed upon my arrival to Airport 2, relevant credit card statements showing the purchases in the few months leading up to my holiday and other associated documents.

I expect to receive compensation in the full amount of my lost luggage and associated expenses within 14 days, failing which I will have no alternative but to issue legal proceedings against Easyjet. I do however hope that such action will not be necessary and that this matter can be amicably resolved.

Yours faithfully,


Okay, it may be a bit of overkill, but whatever, I was kind of upset. I sent this letter along with the following documents:

- Lost baggage questionnaire
- A copy of the Property Irregularity Report
- A signed letter from my husband stating that my inventory list was a true and accurate list of items contained in our baggage
- A copy of the carrier bag tag
- A copy of my electronic ticket
- A copy of my boarding pass
- Lots of copies of receipts (luckily I had a lot of these as I keep all my shopping bags to re-use, and I usually never take the receipts out until I re-use them)
- A copy of my bank statements that showed purchases of items lost (I highlighted and labeled the relevant transactions)
- A copy of the relevant credit card statements, same as above - REMEMBER TO BLACK OUT YOUR ACCOUNT DETAILS

The thing that is relevant here is Special Drawing Rights. You are entitiled to a maximum compensation by the airlines of 1000 SDRs, which is valued here daily.

From what I remember they then came back to me and said that they would look at my claim and make a decision within, I think, 30 days. Of course they took almost the entire 30 days. Then they came back to me and said they would give me compensation and that it would be in my account within 30 days. ON THE 30TH DAY, I called them to see where my compensation was and they hadn't sent it yet, but they did end up sending it that day. AND I got maximum compensation!

It was a long process and I kind of wonder if they do that on purpose because it might put some people off. Regardless, if you go down this path, make sure you use as much documentation as possible, keep copies and records of everything and follow up regularly. I stayed right on top of everything and it ended up being worth it. It actually didn't take an exceptional amount of time or effort, I just needed to stick with it. Though I hated losing my luggage, going through the reclaim procedure never really bothered me because as odd as it sounds I kind of like doing things like this. I like putting together organised, comprehensive paperwork/documentation and I like the confirmation that I was right to hang on to all of the crap that I hang on to so it was kind of like an art project for me!

Anyway - good luck, I hope this helps you somewhat.

More info here.
posted by triggerfinger at 12:42 PM on July 2, 2008 [2 favorites]

« Older At what "proof" will spirits burn?   |   Please help me help my friend. Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.