A 50th wedding anniversary trip without luggage thanks to Aer Lingus

When Joe Golding and his wife flew from Chicago to Ireland on Aer Lingus to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary, the airline lost their luggage on the way. The couple spent three days traveling without their luggage before it was found and delivered to them. Golding subsequently filed a lost luggage claim, but three months later it still had not been processed. Can our advocates help him get reimbursed?

Question: My wife and I recently flew from Chicago to Dublin on Aer Lingus. When we landed in Dublin, nobody’s bags arrived…no clothes, no medicine, no contact lenses or toiletries. We traveled across Ireland for three days, checking into hotels, carrying a paper sack filled with necessary merchandise we purchased to maintain our personal hygiene.

Without medications, I had to check into Ireland’s medical system to get the necessary medicine.

We filed a claim on July 4 with Aer Lingus to pay for health necessities during the three days we had no luggage. It’s been almost three months and the airline still hasn’t acknowledged our loss or offered any apologies for ruining our 50th anniversary! I have provided all the receipts and sent several emails without even an update on my claim. We really need your help! — Joe Golding, Greenwood, Ind.

Answer: I’m sorry to hear you had a terrible experience during your anniversary vacation. Aer Lingus clearly could have done a better job with your luggage.

Before reaching out to our advocates, you had attempted to resolve the problem on your own using our Aer Lingus company contacts.

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Unfortunately, several months later you seemed to be no closer to a positive resolution. Frustrated with the lack of progress, you reached out to our advocacy team for help.

Our advocates reviewed your paper trail and noted that there were important pieces missing. You hadn’t included your claim number so it would have been impossible for the airline to respond properly to your inquiry.

Our advocate was able to obtain the necessary paperwork and baggage reference number that Aer Lingus needed to review your claim. With all your supporting documents in order, he then reached out to Aer Lingus on your behalf.

Shortly thereafter, the airline contacted you and apologized for the “delayed response.”

What caused this delay? It appears that you had mistakenly filed your claim with the Dublin headquarters. As a U.S. citizen, your claim needed to be processed through the North American branch of Aer Lingus.

“I am very sorry for the inconvenience and disappointment which resulted from your luggage not being available on arrival of your flight,” an Aer Lingus representative told you.

Aer Lingus sent you a check for $867 representing reimbursement for receipts you submitted for “interim necessities.” However, the airline noted that medical expenses are not covered unless you have travel insurance.

This case also serves as a cautionary tale for those who travel with medications. Losing medications can be a life-and-death issue. Never check your medications because as you have discovered, your luggage can be delayed or even lost.

You are pleased with this outcome and we’re delighted to have helped. Happy Anniversary!

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Michael Hinkelman

Michael Hinkelman is an award-winning journalist with more than 35 years experience. He has worked for daily newspapers in Atlanta and Philadelphia, most recently as a small-business columnist for the Philadelphia Daily News, before retiring in 2016. In 1993, Hinkelman won a prestigious Gerald Loeb Award for Distinguished Business and Financial Journalism for an investigation into the finances of the Atlanta Public Schools. In 2016, he was a lecturer in media relations at the University of Pennsylvania’s Fels Institute of Government.

  • Zarkov505

    “It appears that you had mistakenly filed your claim with the Dublin headquarters. As a U.S. citizen, your claim needed to be processed through the North American branch of Aer Lingus.”

    This is bull****.

    OF COURSE they filed with Aer Lingus Dublin! They were in Dublin when they discovered the problem in the first place!

    There was absolutely nothing preventing Aer Lingus Dublin from forwarding the claim to Aer Lingus North America. Nor was there anything preventing Aer Lingus Dublin from working the problem.

  • C Schwartz

    Except the missing baggage claim number– I would think that would have been a bigger problem..

  • Steve Rabin

    Agreed! Aer Lingus is covering their tracks. Isn’t this all done by a single computer system?

    And a lesson to the OP that experienced travelers are familiar with–always carry your medications and other real necessities in your carry-ons, not in checked luggage.

  • AJPeabody

    Medication can be difficult or expensive to replace on short notice. Travelers should take twice as much as they need for the trip, divided into two collections and each carried separately. For instance, one trip’s worth in a purse and another in a carry on. Your doctor may have to fiddle a bit with the pharmacy to get you the extra vacation supply, but time spent before traveling can save a mess on the trip itself.

  • Chris Johnson

    Not to criticize these people but I put medication and any “critical” items that I can in carry-on bags. What a nuisance though. It’s bad enough when you’re on a domestic flight and your luggage is lost, international flights are a nightmare.

  • Joe Blasi

    also eu 261

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is hard to forward the claim to the proper ‘country division’ without a claim #?

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    It is common for multi-national companies to have separate systems, databases, etc. for each marketcountryetc. This was the case for the two multi-national companies that I have worked for. It is common for companies that operates in various states in the United States.

    Yesterday, I contacted Delta Dental to get some specific information between two dental plans since the deadline for our re-enrollment is nearing. For 30 minutes, I was told that they have no records (i.e. members, claims, etc.) of us in their system (we have coverage for years). On my third call, the CSR (a different one from the previous two) figured it out why we were not in the database. One dental plan was administrated by DD of Arizona and the other one was administered by DD of California and I called DD of CA since I had a question about that plan. They had no access to the databasesystem of DD of AZ where our records were.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    Did the OP dealt with a professional brick & mortar travel agent? an OTA? or were they DIY travel agents? If they dealt with a B&M travel agent or an OTA should have assisted them when their luggage was mishandled?

    You should never pack your medication, key, etc, in your checked luggage.

    Once in a lifetime trip…an international trip…the OP should have purchased travel insurance.

    “ruining our 50th anniversary!”…come on, is the OP saying that in their 50 years of marriage that they never encounter one single problem. Or is the OP set in his way and can’t roll with the punches? Call your travel agent and your travel insurance company…buy some clothes and have some fun!

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    A packing tip to minimize a lost or misplaced luggage:

    1. If you have two bags and two passengers…put 1/2 of one passengers in one bag and put the other half in the other bag. If one bag is lost, both passengers still have some clothes. If there are three passengers then 1/3, 1/3/ and 1/3.

    2. Carry one day of clothing in your carry-on…with the clothes on your back and the change in your carry-on…you can go a few days since most lost luggage benefit of a travel insurance policy is 48 hours.

    3. Video record or take pictures of the items in your bags in case if your bag is not found and you have to file a claim with the airline and/or travel insurance company.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Regarding packing medication – while I agree with everyone who pointed out that travelers should always carry their meds with them rather than pack them, I think it’s important to note that this can be fraught with its own problems: getting them through TSA.

    There are numerous reports of TSA messing with and even confiscating medications. A number of travelers have reported that the TSA took their nitroglycerin pills, because some screeners believed they were explosive (no, I’m not making this up). Others have complained they were forced to put meds like Enbrel through the X-ray machine even though this and some other meds should never be X-rayed according to their manufacturers (and the TSA’s own regulations).

    We even had the FDA issuing an advisory telling passengers they have to notify the TSA about their private prescription drugs. Think about it: you have a condition for which you take medication — a condition that’s nobody else’s business — and you’re supposed to announce it to the TSA at the checkpoint? So that the expert clerks, these former Walmart employees, with their immense knowledge of medical conditions and treatments, can decide whether or not you’re allowed to take your private, personal medication with you??

    And that’s not even counting all the times the TSA has damaged insulin pumps, punctured saline solution bags, popped ostomy bags, and on and on.

    I don’t know if this couple ever had problems getting their meds through TSA, but that could be a reason why they packed them. Traveling with meds can be problematic no matter what you do.

    All that being said…I have to agree that the hyperbole was rather over-the-top. If not having your luggage for three days “ruined” your vacation, you might be a little too inflexible. Hey, I spent two weeks in Ireland and Scotland this summer (I too flew Aer Lingus, and had a GREAT experience with them!), and if my luggage was delayed I would have popped into the Marks & Spencer on Grafton Street in Dublin and done a wee bit of shopping, and then moved on with my vacation.

    This kinda reminded me of the article two days ago when a woman whose flight was delayed by only a few hours said she was “devastated” and demanded $5000 compensation! ;-)

  • C Schwartz

    I do not think EU 261 covers delayed baggage.

  • Rinacres

    This is the part that really gets me on these claims – that the vacation was ‘ruined’. On my 25th anniversary, my husband and I took a cruise to Alaska. When my luggage still had not been delivered hours after setting sail, we were finally told my suitcase had fallen overboard during loading and they were busy trying to wash and dry everything. Of course, I had numerous dry clean only items which were wrecked by their laundering them, but most were ok so we just laughed about it and enjoyed the scenery. Even if all the clothes had been lost, I still wouldn’t have considered the vacation ruined, but would have enjoyed the opportunity to go shopping without the hubby saying I didn’t need more clothes!

  • James

    I would further note that there are European data security regulations that make it difficult for companies to put European data into American systems — the US just doesn’t require the necessary security for the data.

  • LeeAnneClark

    That happened to a good friend of mine! She actually WATCHED her bag fall off the lift into the harbor, while waiting in line on the gangplank to board. They didn’t even bother trying to pull it out – she never got it back, and so she had no clothes at all other than the one change of clothes she’d brought with her in her carry-on.

    It was a major pain – their first port stop wasn’t for three days – so she was given a small allowance to purchase some clothes in the gift shop. But those shops are super expensive, so she basically had nothing but a couple pairs of shorts, one pair of slacks, two t-shirts and a sweatshirt. Then when they got to their first port she was able to find a clothes boutique and buy a few more things to take her through the rest of the cruise.

    She never did get fully reimbursed for all that she lost, including her formal gown and some jewelry (which she regrets packing).

    But when you ask her how that vacation was, she still says they had a great time. She was on a beautiful ship, which went to several exotic ports, and the cruise line did give them a couple of free excursions as compensation for the lost bag.

  • BubbaJoe123

    How long a trip was this? Unless it was more than 2-3 weeks, unclear why they had checked luggage in the first place.

  • AMA

    If you are on a medication such as a narcotic or “restricted” substance, make sure you bring a copy of the doctor’s prescription and keep it in its original pharmacy container, and ask your bag contents to be hand-inspected instead of xrayed.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Yes, this is the guidance – which is utterly and completely absurd. The TSA is not the DEA – their mandate has nothing to do with drugs. They are not even law enforcement – they are clerical screeners with no law enforcement training or authority. They have zero right or reason to know what medications I am prescribed. It’s none of their damn business.

    I’ve heard reports of prescribed narcotics being confiscated at the checkpoint because the traveler couldn’t produce the prescription. Is there anyone out there who *doesn’t* think those drugs ended up supporting the habit of an opiod-addicted TSA screener?

    The TSA has no business asking me about my meds, or my medical conditions, or my prescriptions.

  • LeeAnneClark

    Well, I think that’s kinda unfair. It was their 50th anniversary, which means that they are obviously senior citizens, and could be well into their 70’s. Furthermore, they made it clear there are some health issues involved. Not everyone is capable of carrying a heavy carry-on onto a plane.

    Also keep in mind that the TSA prevents you from carrying liquids, so they wouldn’t have been able to bring enough toiletries with them to last more than a couple days. I don’t know about you, but I sure don’t want to spend my vacation shopping for toiletries – I pack what I like and check it, unless I’m only traveling for a few days.

    My trip to Ireland & Scotland was only for 2 weeks, and I checked my bag. The first bag is free, so why NOT check it?

    I think it’s completely clear why they had checked luggage.

  • jah6

    Why would anybody check medications or contact lenses? I carry anything like that on with me.

  • jim6555

    Aer Lingus lost and then found one of my suitcases and while I was traveling from Dublin to Hamburg. The suitcase was badly damaged when I received it. Even though I am a US citizen, the Aer Lingus agent in Hamburg told me to file the claim with an office in Munich. When I contacted the Munich office, the person that I spoke with asked whether I had travel insurance. I responded yes. He suggested that it would be easier for me to file the claim using that insurance explaining that their claims adjusters find it easier to deal with insurance companies than with the traveling public and that they would reimburse the insurer for the amount of the claim. When I returned to the US, I submitted the claim to the insurer and several weeks later, received a check from them to fully compensate me for the replacement bag.

  • The Original Joe S

    ” It appears that you had mistakenly filed your claim with the Dublin
    headquarters. As a U.S. citizen, your claim needed to be processed
    through the North American branch of Aer Lingus.”
    So, since you made a “mistake”; we are gonna stonewall you in hopes that you go away.
    Very cunning…………….

  • The Original Joe S

    Stupids don’t have data integration among various subsets of the same company?

  • The Original Joe S

    #3 above! yup!

  • The Original Joe S

    TSA Delenda Est!

  • LeeAnneClark

    Read my comment below for one potential reason why people check meds: TSA confiscates them. As for contact lenses – yeah, that one doesn’t make sense.

  • LeeAnneClark

    I wish! They certainly add no value, for an exorbitant cost to taxpayers.

  • jerrymandel

    LeeAnne-I don’t have copies of prescriptions. My doctor sends them electronically to pharmacies.

  • cscasi

    Well, when I filed a claim with Aer Lingus for the refund of taxes and fees for tickets we did not use, the claim was sent to the New York office and the check was sent from the New York office. I just followed the instructions when I filed the claim.

  • Attention All Passengers

    I agree and how would they (passengers) even know to process through the N.A. branch office or if it even existed? It’s a pretty safe bet that their computers are linked systemwide. I’m sick of every customer/ every passenger having to be their own advocate when things go wrong. With unanswered questions at every turn we’re all supposed to figure it out – how every airline works behind the scenes, what their ever-changing elusive policies and procedures are, etc. God forbid they ever believe the passenger over many inept, ill-informed and lying employees.

  • Steve Rabin

    I guess if they are reimbursing you, you’d rather get a check drawn on an American bank in $$$ than an Irish bank in euros.

  • C Schwartz

    Privacy laws are much more strict in Europe.

  • mcb48204

    You may be experienced and hardened road warriors, but many are not. Why can’t you resist going off on one word (ruined), and focus on the problems the OP experienced. It doesn’t make you look any smarter or stronger to criticize someone who experienced problems during their trip.

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