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Wedding Trip Turned Nightmare

Discussion in 'Airlines' started by Rachel Zheng, Dec 15, 2017.

  1. Rachel Zheng

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    Southwest Airlines lost not 1 but 2 of my checked bags out of 4. I recently flew to CA in Oct to attend my brother's wedding. I checked in at the Oakland Airport 4-5 hours prior to my flight departure time. Upon arriving back to Dallas on Oct 26 late evening, two of my checked bags never came. I went in to Southwest baggage claim office to ask and I was told to wait for my bags to show up. I told the lady at the baggage claim counter that I had valuable items in my checked bags including designer bags and clothing worth thousands as it was for a wedding trip. However, the lady wrote down sanitary bags in my missing bags as the contents. I could see that Southwest is trying to minimize the value of the contents in the lost bags.

    Then, I asked the lady if Southwest would reimburse the cost of items I needed to purchase to sleep the night in Dallas while I was waiting for my bags to arrive, she said Southwest does not reimburse the cost unless I have to wait more than 24 hours. So, I had to request to talk to the supervisor to get the reimbursement to purchase pajamas and other sanitary stuffs I needed for the night. Then, the supervisor assures me that I will be reimbursed for $50 for each paid passenger for that night I had to stay in Dallas. Then, the next morning, my bags never showed up and I had to drive back to Oklahoma where I live.

    After arriving in Oklahoma, I kept calling Southwest everyday to ask them if they find out anything about my bags. And all they answered was they're still checking on them and trying to locate them. The WORST thing about Southwest is that unlike other airlines, they do not have tracking system for the checked bags until the bags arrive at the carousel at the airport and nobody claims the bags. After waited for 5 days with no cosmetics to go on with my daily routine, I talked to the same supervisor at the Dallas Love Field airport, the supervisor told me to go ahead and purchase the cosmetics I needed to go on with my days. But a reimbursement or payment was never offered to purchase new items that they lost. I asked the same supervisor to see if he could check the surveillance near the carousel of the night I arrived to know whether somebody might have stolen my bags, he just simply shushed me off by saying those cameras are actually not monitoring.

    Then, on the 6th day after waiting and hoping for my bags to show up, I finally was ready to report the lost bag filing on Southwest website. When I checked the site, it is shown that my incident was recorded on the next day after I flew on the site and I was unable to file a claim because of that. So, basically, Southwest added one extra day until I can fill out a detail form with missing items to file a claim to get the lost items to be reimbursed.

    Then, when Southwest site finally allows me to upload my claims, I was having another trouble with the site. Without showing what the file size allowance should be, I was unable to upload the forms that I filled out for more than 20 times. I contacted Southwest multiple times during my trying attempts and no successful answers were received. Finally, I figured out that I had to upload no more than 4 pages per upload when I had to include some copies of the receipts as well.

    Some of the items in the lost bags include Louis Vuitton bag, Gucci bag, Michael Kors Bag, Yves Saint Laurent bag, many pairs of designer shoes, an expensive wool long coat that I purchased from a trip to Europe which Southwest would not give me a round trip ticket to go to Europe to repurchase and replace, many cosmetics items that add up to thousands of dollars as well. We never know how much the cosmetics cost as we keep buying one by one until we lose them all and the costs add up to thousands.

    After uploading the item detail list and a week and gone by and finally, somebody on Southwest replied on my upload files on Southwest baggage claim site saying I will need to refill the form of the item detail pages that reflect all the dates of the items purchases to be shown. Who remembers the date of every single item they purchase? So, basically, Southwest is dragging the time and trying to make your life miserable so that you would give up on claiming the reimbursement back for the bags that they lost.

    So, I had to refill the itemized detail forms of the missing items in the bag with the dates of purchase and resubmitted the forms. It has been 3 days after I resubmitted the forms and there was no response whatsoever from Southwest.

    So, after waiting one month and 13 days with multiple calls to check on the claim status with many voice messages left directly on the Southwest claim special agent named Kandice, I finally received a reply on the Southwest claim portal website saying that my claim was denied because "the results of our investigation have revealed substantial discrepancies in the information provided in your claim, which have given us reason to doubt its validity" and thus, "we are unable to ethically determine a proper settlement and are, regrettably, denying same."

    After they lost 2 bags with designer bags and shoes, department brands cosmetics, Sisley Italian long coat that I purchased from my trip to Europe in 2013 and men's designer 3-piece-suit, Southwest shamelessly denied to pay out and did not even offer a single penny for the 2 lost bags. I also submitted the receipt for the 2 luggage that I purchased a few days before the trip with one bag, TUMI brand, costing us $350+Tax and did not even include the cost of those 2 bags in my claim.

    I even requested the supervisor at Dallas Love Field airport to view the security cameras at the baggage claim area to see if there was anyone who may have stolen my bags and was denied stating those cameras do not serve for that purpose.

    I understand Southwest would not reimburse me full amount of my claim and there is a limit to what they could offer. But when I lost more amount than the maximum amount they could offer, I would like to get as much as I could to be able to replace some of the items. Southwest had caused me emotional distress as well as substantial loss in my life.
     
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  2. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    5F537037-07D4-456E-9E54-6984B65F34A1.jpeg Did you buy travel insurance? That will help reimburse some expense not covered.

    However with the limited amount the airlines legally have to reimburse you for, why would you take so many expense designer items? I can understand their reticence - that is a lot of pocketbooks that you took for a wedding, and you have no proof unless you took pictures of what you packed. You have the burden of proof to show you actually had all of those items in your luggage. They won’t reimburse you if you can’t prove you had everything you claim.

    The maximum payout for lost luggage is $3500. I have attached information from their Contract of Carriage.

    You can file a complaint with the DOT

    https://airconsumer.dot.gov/escomplaint/ConsumerForm.cfm

    Even with that, you may have to find an attorney that specializes in aviation law if the DOT can’t help.

    File the DOT complaint and let us know what happens
     
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  3. Rachel Zheng

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    Neil,

    Like I had mentioned, I brought them because it was a family wedding trip to CA. One of the bags was my mother- in- law's bag and she does have travel insurance. But I did not buy travel insurance as I had never lost a baggage with any airline before.

    Also, to answer your question to why I packed valuable items in my bags, I didn't realize how much cosmetics could add up. Only when I needed to replace them and had to rebuy everything, the calculation adds up. The reason I had to bring so many makeup items was because I had to help do makeup on relatives. Please be reminded that Southwest lost 2 bags, not one. And the wedding was separated to 2 events, daytime on a yacht and night time at a restaurant. So, we brought 2 separate special occasion purses, clothes, and shoes for each person.

    Also, like I said, I understand there's a limit to what they can offer. I provided them pictures from the wedding with some of the items in the lost bag. But since I didn't take all the pictures carrying my purse around because it was a family wedding and inconvenient for me to help out elderly relatives and guests while carrying a purse, a couple of the purses my mother- in- law and I used at the wedding were not in the pictures. But even though they can't prove what I had lost in my bag, to not offer to reimburse me at all was very unethical of Southwest. There already is a prove that Southwest had lost 2 bags since the first time I filed a claim as soon as I arrived in Dallas.

    I already filed a claim with DOT and contacted southwest after. And they shamelessly said we will contact you in writing in about 30 days since you filed a claim with DOT even though the claim is already closed. Southwest is stating the fact as if they're doing me a favor by looking into my claim again when they lost my 2 bags. I did not ask for them to lose my bags. If Southwest had a step by step luggage tracking system like Delta, I may not have to go through all these troubles and wasting my time and money on this.

    I will be looking into an attorney at this point as you suggested as well.
     
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  4. Its Not Me

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    The take away here is that I don't know what happened at the lost luggage counter - but if the woman wrote 'sanitary bags' on a claim form as the description - and you signed it somehow - why did you not read it before you signed it and corrected anything that was wrong?

    If it was all internal documents you never saw - then you cannot be held liable for that the employee wrong. But you are going to liability limited. sorry - that's how it works.

    Moving along - were you aware of the excess contents valuation insurance that was available for loss? You could have declared a higher value - and paid for the value.

    And finally - to everyone else in the future - do not put anything of value in a checked bag. That includes fancy expensive clothes. You should have put anything of serious monetary value in a carry on bag. And keep it with you. you are entitled to a purse like bag and a carry on roller bag. you put your toiletries and underwear in the checked luggage and your designer stuff in the carry on.

    I have a 21" spinner that I use to go everywhere - including Europe for 2 weeks this past summer - so the thought of 4 bags just for a wedding . . . .

    The other bag I use is a 25" Tom Bihn backpack. EVERYTHING for 2 weeks in Europe fit in the roll aboard or the backpack. My wife used the 19" in version of the backpack for her purse, and her misc stuff - you simply do not need that much stuff for the weekend. If someone in the future packs a little more efficiently you can easily get every thing you need for a long weekend wedding into a couple of carry ons.

    This post is the sad warning for people to not check luggage if they don't have to . . . .
     
    #4
    Last edited: Dec 15, 2017
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  5. Rachel Zheng

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    No. Like I said, I was not even sure how much the cosmetics could add up until I had done calculations when I had to file a claim. All I thought in each bag was no more than $3,000 which I believed I would have to declare when I checked in.

    And I did mention the claim department to include my designer bags before I filed an official claim. So, yes, all the designer items are mentioned and I could prove that I used them on the trip from my pictures taken at the wedding.

    Even my daily use purse was a Burberry bag which my pictures taken on the trip could prove as well. But I did not include in my claim because it was not in the lost luggage as I carried it back with me.

    And I checked in 4 bags for the wedding because it was 4 passengers in my group on the same flight that flew. But only my bag and my MIL's bag were stolen/lost. It is reasonable to have each passenger having their own checked bag. Even for one passenger with 2 checked bags is reasonable because we all could over pack most of the time when we go on a trip.
     
    #5
  6. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    If you’ve already filed with the DOT, Southwest will only communicate now with you thru the DOT, you won’t hear anymore from anymore.

    As It’s Not Me stated you never should have signed that claim form that sanitary bags- that is likely a big factor in SWs response as well. You could have insisted she redo the form.

    We also can’t help once a DOT complaint has been filed because they will not respond to us either.

    See what happens with the DOT and if they can’t get SW to offer you more- you will probably have to retain an attorney.
     
    #6
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  7. Christina H

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    I am not sure I have ever had to sign a lost luggage report at the airport when a bag has gone missing. The agent types something in the computer and hands me a form with a claim number. And what are "sanitary bags"? Some carrying luggage full of garbage bags? That makes little sense on Southwest's part.

    I suspect that there is a comma missing and some words. The traveler was asking about reimbursement for sanitary items in the bag (what are often referred to as toiletries) which would be needed, like toothpaste and such and also mentioned that there were bags (i.e. purses) in the luggage and that got abbreviated to sanitary bags.

    I must say I do not think it is helpful to criticize Rachel Zheng for the amount of luggage or how expensive her clothes/ purses are. I would not spend money on Michael Kors but other people are free to.

    And as someone who has had to combine business trips in cold climates and warm on a single ticket and had to have appropriate work and event clothes for each I understand the need to check luggage. And what works for some in packing does not work for others.

    What is important is to have proper insurance for the belongings (check to see if any of these would be covered under homeowner's or renter's insurance) when traveling with expensive items.

    I hope the OP gets a resolution from the DOT. It is not right that an offer of $0 is given.
     
    #7
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  8. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    I also hope the DOT filing will help. I also don’t like the response when Rachel asked about checking the security footage - they most certainly could have checked the footage to see if someone else had picked up the bags.

    Rschel, were all the bags clearly marked with luggage tags with your name on them? I still wonder if they are sitting somewhere not able to be identified, perhaps at the Oakland Airport?
     
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  9. Patina

    Patina Moderator
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    I second your comment about criticizing someone for packing too much. (And this is coming from someone who travelled through Europe for 5 weeks with only a carry-on.) To each his own. The comments should focus on the best way to assist the OP from here.
     
    #9
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  10. Carrie Livingston

    Staff Member Advocate

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    Only 1 of the bags was @Rachel Zheng 's. The other lost bag was her MIL's.
     
    #10
  11. Neil

    Neil Moderator
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    And that may be exactly why they can’t find it if it had nothing identifying it as traveling with her. I think they are sitting at one of the airports because they can’t identify they flew with Rachel.

    It might be worth going back to the airport and finding out where unidentifed luggage goes.

    Maybe try one of these- maybe Terry Mitchell?

    Dallas Love Field
    Love Field Terminal Building
    8008 Herb Kelleher Way, LB 16
    Dallas, TX 75235
    214-670-LOVE (5683) phone
    214-670-6051 fax
    E-mail the Aviation Department
    E-mail the Volunteer Coordinator
    Email the ADA Compliance Coordinator


    Mark Duebner
    Director of Aviation

    Terry Mitchell
    Assistant Director - Operations

    Stephanie McHenry
    Assistant Director - Ground Transportation and Capital Development Program

    Lynetta Kidd
    Assistant Director - Concessions, Accounting, Facilities and Customer Service

    Timothy Smith
    Manager III - Logistics and Systems Manager


    Business Opportunities
    Dawn Blair
    Real Estate Manager-Property Management
    214-670-6153

    Media Relations - for Media Access Only
    If an urgent need arises after business hours or on weekends, please contact Love Field PIO by:

    Please note: The Public Information Office does not operate on a 24-hour basis. We do, however, offer a callback system as a courtesy to media for emergencies and critical incidents only. We ask that it not be used for update questions, follow-ups on old news stories, scanner traffic, future stories, etc. If an event occurs where PIO needs to be contacted after business hours, please allow time for information to be relayed to us. The Public Information Office will respond to all emergencies/critical incidents. All other situations will be evaluated by the office on a case-by-case basis.

    Chris Perry (Primary Contact)
    Communications Manager
    Department of Aviation - Love Field
    8008 Herb Kelleher Way, LB16
    Dallas, TX 75235
    214-671-1577
    christopher.perry1@dallascityhall.com

    Anastasia Reed
    Public Information Officer
    City of Dallas
    1500 Marilla St., 4ES
    Dallas, TX 75201
    214-670-1099
    anastasia.reed@dallascityhall.com

    To apply for a position in the Department of Aviation, please visit the
    City of Dallas Employment Opportunity page.
     
    #11
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  12. Rachel Zheng

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    Thank you all for the information and advice. And yes, some people over pack when they travel and some pack light. It is a personal choice. As for me, I over packed for this trip because it was my only brother's wedding trip to CA. So, I packaged what I thought I might have needed not only for myself but for relatives who are attending the wedding too.

    I had both bags with personal tags that could not easily have come off as well as the airline tags. I told the Southwest with the tags color and what they looked like as well.

    I had visited to Dallas Love Field airport the next day after I flew in to check on the bags they had in the baggage claim area and found none. Unfortunately, I had to drive back to Oklahoma that same afternoon and could not go there to check again.

    I would have understood if they had offered me with something as a counter offer. But it is outrageous that they just flat out denied when there was obviously a mistake on their part with losing 2 bags out of the 4 checked bags in our group of 4.

    And Neil, I will contact those people and see if they could help me out with anything at all while waiting on the response from DOT in the meantime.
     
    #12
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  13. Edward Gonsalves

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    As a Traveller you have rights and Southwest was absolutely wrong to dismiss your claim after they lost your bags.


    Domestic maximum liability

    In the US, effective 27 May 2015, the Department of Transportation has said that airlines are liable for amounts up toat least $3500 for losing your luggage.

    This limit was previously $3300 prior to then, $3000 previously from Feb 2007, $2800 between 22 Oct 2004 and 28 February 2007, and $2500 prior to then. It is expected to be adjusted every two years or so, in line with inflation.

    The DoT says the airlines can't limit their liability to any amount less than this, but within their Contract of Carriage, they certainly can limit their liability to exactly this amount, and that may or may not prove to be a binding enforceable limit.

    This is a limit per passenger. That is an important distinction.

    If you were traveling with someone else, and if you had some of your items and some of your companion's items in your lost bag, then conceivably you could possibly be able to claim up to $7000 for the lost items - half for you and half for the other person.
     
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  14. Christina H

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    Edward Gonsalves

    If you were traveling with someone else, and if you had some of your items and some of your companion's items in your lost bag, then conceivably you could possibly be able to claim up to $7000 for the lost items - half for you and half for the other person.[/QUOTE]

    No you cannot have a 7,000 claim for one piece of lost luggage claiming that a two passengers had items in the luggage.

    Luggage is ticketed to one person in the reservation -- and that one person has the allowance. A family of four would not be allowed to claim $14,000 off of one piece of luggage saying that each person had high value items

    If as I understand one piece was tagged to the ticket of the OP and the second was tagged to the ticket of the mother in law of the OP then each bag has a limit of $3,500. The amount is #3,500 per ticketed passenger, and luggage is attached to one ticket.

    The OP has already suffered from incorrect information being input in her file and we do not want her to have incorrect information on the limits
     
    #14
  15. Edward Gonsalves

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    The maximum for a single person is 3,500, let’s say a husband and wife were traveling together and had just one suite case between them, theoretically the maximum would be 7000, but the airline wouldn’t even pay the maximum for one since they would do everything they can to dismiss the claim. The airlines also sell supplemental insurance and even then after you buy the extra insurance they put you through hell when your bags are lost.
     
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  16. Christina H

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    No it would not. Each piece of baggage is assingned to one passenger even when their are two traveling. When I traveled with the significant other and we had 3 pieces between the two of us, one ticket got 2 pieces assigned to the ticket, the other had one. There was one claim ticket for each bag and each bag was assigned to one traveler and ticket.

    Most insurance companies are slow to pay out. If I need a special and more expensive medication the dr's office has to fight to get it, When my apartment was robbed it was the same -- no question that I was robbed, police came and it was part of a string of burglaries in the area, but it was still difficult.

    The airlines pay depreciated value on many items, just as most homeowners insurance and car insurance -- unless one pays more for replacement value policy.

    Trying to be clever and give theorical scenarios may be interesting for students but in practicality it rarely works.

    There is a firm that takes care of airline baggage claims and even they say that each bag is assigned to one traveler and that is the limit

    I have attached a copy of the question and answer from Claimair
     

    Attached Files:

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  17. VoR61

    Advocate

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    It's worth noting that airlines will limit their liability for lost/damaged luggage and contents. The list is typically long, and brings into question the practicality of the $3,500. For Southwest:

    In Section 7, paragraph 3.5 it states:

    "High-Value Items Unsuitable for Checked Baggage. Carrier assumes no responsibility for and will not be liable for money; jewelry; photographic, video, and optical equipment; computers and other electronic equipment; computer software; silverware and china; fragile or perishable items; liquids; precious gems and metals;negotiable instruments; securities; business or personal documents; samples; items intended for sale; paintings, artifacts, and other works of art; antiques; collectors’ items; unique or irreplaceable items; heirlooms; research, experimental, and scholastic items and documents; manuscripts; furs; irreplaceable books or publications; and similar valuables contained in carryon or Checked Baggage."

    None of these impact this scenario, but travelers should be aware of these restrictions ...
     
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  18. Edward Gonsalves

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    They use every trick in the book.
     
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  19. Rachel Zheng

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    I did have my husband's Calvin Klein 3-piece suit and his shoes in my bag since his bag was smaller than mine and the suit couldn't fit in there.

    I would understand the depreciation value if they offer me any amount at all for my claim. I read their guidelines with what not to include in the luggage for eligible claim after I lost my luggage. None of my missing items fall into that category.

    I'd like to know if anyone knows how long it usually takes for DOT to respond. And if there's any chance DOT would be able to mediate between Southwest and I. If they can't, what's my next step that I should do? A friend lawyer of mine recommended me to file a claim at a small claim court. I'm not sure if that would help me in any way.
     
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  20. ADM

    ADM

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    Check with the credit card used to buy the plane tickets. Many of them have some type of coverage for lost/damaged/delayed luggage. That's just a suggestion for another avenue to pursue for some type of compensation.
     
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