A few months ago I was in a situation where I was running late for a morning flight due to a long security line (and my love of precious sleep), and while I made the flight without incident, there was no longer any room for my carry-on roller bag since the bin space was full.  Normally this is slightly annoying, but not a huge deal.  However, in this case I was going to Las Vegas, but had a connection in San Francisco, and I immediately had a bad feeling about this development.  Connections absolutely increase the likelihood that there will be problems with your checked bag…of course, so does being late and having to check it in the first place.

I first asked if the bag could just be gate checked so it would be waiting for me on the jet bridge at my connecting airport.  The flight attendant said no, so I reluctantly checked my bag with her and boarded the plane.  My flights were on-time and I arrived to Las Vegas ready to get my bag and go hang out with friends for my one-night trip.  Of course, if you happened to read my posts at the time, you would know that my bag did not arrive.  Not only that, but the baggage services people at the airport were unable to track the bag at all.  Essentially they had no clue where it was or when it might arrive.  I was told that the flight attendant had filed out the bag tag incorrectly, and that was the source of the problem.

“Grrrrreat” was all I could think since I was only there one night, had no transportation other than a cab, and I had already lost an hour of hanging out with friends while I was waiting in line for baggage services.  I called the number provided by the airport, and was told I would get up to $100 authorized for purchases I needed that night, and could submit receipts to be reimbursed.  I explained that was nice, but since I was staying at a resort with no transportation my expenses for the night would exceed $100 just to get a swimsuit, something to sleep in, underwear, toiletries, etc.  Vegas resorts may have cheap hotel rooms, but the shops are anything but cheap.

As expected, just to get the basics to continue on with my afternoon/evening plans was over $250.  I was very conservative in purchasing things, but even the infamous ugly Kardashian swim suit rang in at over $100 all by itself.  I didn’t want my Mirage branded shirt/shorts or my hot pink tiny bikini, but I needed them because United did not deliver my checked bag, and didn’t know when it might arrive.

The good news was that though I never received a call from United updating the situation, my bag showed up the next morning, and was with the bellman at the Mirage.  Thankfully, he called to let me know it had arrived.  After the trip I submitted all the receipts for the items I purchased, and sent them into the United Baggage Services along with a letter detailing the situation.  If I had the time and transportation to go to Target and buy these items cheaper, I would have (they probably would have been cuter, too), but I would have burned even more time on my one evening trip, and I would have also incurred additional cab expenses, so that was not a viable option for that night.

I wasn’t sure what the response from United would be, and I would have accepted it if all they did was refund up to the max of $100 for expenses, but I was very happy that they did more than that.  After a few weeks, they sent the reimbursement check for $100, but also included a travel certificate for $150 for the inconvenience.  That amount was roughly the total that I had spent on the items I needed for the night.  The certificate was as good as cash since I book United flights so frequently, so in the end I really didn’t lose much out of pocket (though I have never again used the majority of the items purchased that day).

After the trip I thought more about it and realized that perhaps I should be giving more thought to what card I am using for various tickets based on the travel benefits that card offers.  Many credit cards have some different travel protections that are available either as a benefit of card membership, or for an additional fee, but some have pretty decent built in delayed bag benefits.  For example, if you use your United MileagePlus Explorer card to purchase a flight, and your bags are delayed for at least 18 hours, you can claim up to $300 ($100 per day) for items needed during the delay.  I certainly would not double-claim with both the card issuer and the airline, but it is a good back-up plan if the airlines are uncooperative or don’t cover all of your expenses.  If the bags are permanently lost, you can claim up to $3,000 for the lost bags.  The materials that came with my Chase Sapphire Preferred Card and Ink Bold Charge Card also seems to have these benefits.  From what I can tell, the The Enhanced Business Gold Rewards Card® from American Express OPEN I have been using for purchasing tickets due to the 3x bonus, does not have a baggage delay benefit.  It does have some lost bag benefits, but I haven’t found a delayed bag benefit.  Though if you have, please send the info!

I share this story in case you find yourself in a similar situation.  Obviously I would not count on receiving more reimbursement than what you are promised, but go ahead and submit all receipts along with a polite letter if your bags are lost/delayed.  Even if you aren’t given cold hard cash for all of your items, it is possible you will receive something additional to help off-set your loss.  Also keep in mind what benefits your credit card used for the purchase may provide.  Another thing I learned while at the baggage center was that the airlines often have car seats that they will provide free of charge in the event your car seat is lost/delayed.  Obviously that is not near as good as getting your car seat, but at least it gives you an option to leave the airport with some sort of child restraint.  Sadly there were two families in there with me who had that problem, and I have received numerous tweets and emails about that same issue.

What experiences have you had with airlines and credit card issuers regarding lost or delayed baggage?

 

Disclosure: I do receive a commission if you are approved a credit card using some of the links in this post.  As always, thanks for your support. 

Posted by Mommy Points | 12 Comments

12 Responses to “Getting Reimbursement for Lost or Delayed Luggage”

  1. Kay says:

    Really useful information. Would you mind sharing a copy of the letter you sent United?

  2. hello says:

    many of those 50 or 25 UA vouchers are useless however, you cannot combine them like you use to, and they limit your options on picking flights plus you have to call in because they often do not work with the online system. not a deal at all I have to say.

    one question, does this chase coverage apply to tkts booked on awards where you use chase to pay the taxes etc?
    thanks

  3. atxtravel says:

    …and what do you do if it’s award flights? Can’t use CC benefits so is writing to the airline the best option?

  4. Paul says:

    Why wouldn’t you double claim with the airline and credit card company if you had to spend more than $300 for clothes? If I’m traveling on business and need to buy a suit and get it tailored the same day it certainly is going to be over $300, why should I submit a claim with the card company and the airline?

    • mommypoints says:

      @Paul, I would not double claim for the same item(s), but if I had expenses over what the airline would reimburse I would also enlist the help of the credit card company as well. In other words, I wouldn’t try to get paid for the same thing twice by double dipping benefits, but I would combine the totals to cover my expenses if needed. In the case of a suit I would def work with both to cover as much of that expenses as possible.

  5. Paul says:

    But if my suit (in my mythical example) was $1000 and the airlines would only reimburse 1000-X there should be no issue with trying to get X from the credit card company, right?

    • mommypoints says:

      Paul, I don’t think there would be an issue with that. My point was if the item you needed cost $100 and the airline gave that to you, I wouldn’t then try to claim that same $100 item with the card company.

  6. NFS says:

    My husband and 9 yr old son flew from NYC to Green Bay on a Sat am to see a Packer game on Sun. Snow storm delayed them in Chicago for 12 hrs. Got to GB at 2am, kid started throwing up at 3am. Bags were lost. Bags showed up Monday in Appleton, so they picked them up on the connection home. United gave them $850 in vouchers. We FORGOT to use them! FORGOT we had them. We didn’t even pursue a claim. But, they had to buy swim shorts for the resort and winter gear.(Son was NOT going to miss the indoor slides and waterpark when he had to sit thru a Packer game freezing his butt off on Dec 27th!)

  7. Julie says:

    I have bad luck with checked luggage. Last July travelling to Maui, my luggage was delayed according to United. After 3 days they finally agreed to a credit of $250. I was in Maui 10 days and the morning I was leaving United called and told me they had found my luggage in Dallas and wanted to know whether I still wanted it sent to Maui. Needless to say, it was waiting for me when I arrived at IAH. United sent me a check for around $218 for clothes for 10 days in Maui. They wouldn’t even cover my laundromat fees.

    Last week my luggage didn’t make it on my connecting flight from SFO to Orange County. After promises that it would be on the next plane it showed up 2 days later. United authorized me $150 and the cab ride alone to Target was $25 each way. I am submitting all of my receipts hoping for reimbursement.

  8. ROB says:

    Amex platinum covers you, but I can’t see that gold does.

    This is the Amex platinum wording. Note that it says “essential items”. Now, Amex is usually pretty good for its platinum customers, but I don’t know if $100 bathing suits are considered essential. Especially bathing suits that get such a bad review :)

    Amex also has a travel policy that you can invoke for $9.95/trip when you buy your tickets that will handle baggage delay.

    2) You will be reimbursed for the purchase or hire of essential items up to:
    a) Baggage delay. US$/500 per person if Your checked in baggage has not arrived
    at Your destination airport within 4 hours of Your arrival;
    b) Extended baggage delay. An additional US$/500 per person if Your checked in
    baggage has still not arrived at Your destination airport within 48 hours of
    Your arrival.

  9. scott h says:

    I had a bag damaged on my outbound flight to a cruise. I didn’t notice until I’d left the airport. Called UA and was told I could make a claim when I returned from the cruise. LAIRS!!

    Baggage personnel said nothing they could do, I’d have to call. Phone personnel then said too much time had passed. Submitted claim online, posted on UA Facebook, tweeted @united, and sent certified postal mail to UA Customer Service. Almost 30 days since cert mail – no response.

    Filed a complaint with DOT. Guess I’ll be making claim with cc company.

  10. TIM & BARBIE FORD says:

    TO WHOM IT MAY CONERN REGARDING SPIRIT AIRLINES,
    MY HUSBAND AND I TRAVELED BACK FROM LAS VEGAS TO DALLAS DFW AIRPORT ON SPIRIT AIRLINES FLIGHT 470 SAT. FEB 9TH. WHEN WE ARRIVED WE WENT TO BAGGAGE CLAIM WHERE WE ONLY FOUND ONE OUT OF TWO SUITCASES WE HAD PAID FOR AND CHECKED IN IN LAS VEGAS AIRPORT. WE FILED A REPORT WITH SPIRIT AIRLINES AT THE DFW AIRPORT IN DALLAS AND TOOK ONLY ONE OUT OF OUR TWO SUITCASES HOME. WE HAVE YET TO HEAR BACK FROM SPIRIT AIRLINES WITH ANY GOOD NEWS ABOUT OUR LOST LUGGAGE. IF SOMEONE COULD HELP US LOCATE OUR MISSING BLUE LUGGAGE WE WOULD GREATLY APPRECIATE YOUR HELP AND CONCERN IN THIS MATTER. OUR NAME IS TIM & BARBIE FORD OUR NUMBER IS 4695854121. WHEN THIS SUITCASE IS OPENED THEY WILL FIND ALL MY MAKEUP 4 PAIR OF SHOES, PICS OF US IN LAS VEGAS, & CLOTHES DIRTY AND NEW. ALSO OUR HYGIENE PRODUCTS MY HUSBANDS CIGARS AND A SMOKING VAPOR KIT WITH CHARGER ALONG WITH OTHER STUFF OUR TOOTHBRUSHES AND PERFUME COLOGNE ETC. PLEASE CONTACT ASAP IF YOU CAN HELP US LOCATE OUR MISSING SUITCASE. THANK YOU SO MUCH

    BARBIE FORD

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