Alitalia promised to cover my lost luggage, but the check never arrived

After John Nealon’s bags go missing, his airline sends him shopping. Why won’t it cover the bill?

Question: My girlfriend and I flew from Minneapolis to Naples, Italy, on Delta Air Lines and Alitalia recently. We missed our connection in Paris. Alitalia put us on the next flight to Naples, and confirmed that our bags would be placed on that flight.

Unfortunately, our bags didn’t make it that day. When we arrived in Naples, Alitalia confirmed that the bags were still in Paris and would be sent the following day. We did not receive our bags for three more days.

An Alitalia employee at the Naples airport told us to purchase the clothes that we needed for our vacation and that the airline would reimburse us. As we were vacationing in the Amalfi Coast, we informed them that the replacement clothes would not be inexpensive.

When we arrived back in Minneapolis, we submitted our claims for reimbursement through the Alitalia website. Alitalia responded very quickly and graciously agreed to pay the amount we submitted, $1,042, in the form of two checks of $521 — one to my girlfriend and one to me. As of this date, only one of the checks was received (by my girlfriend). I still have not received mine.

I have tried to follow up with Alitalia, but I have not received one email response from the airline. Can you help? — John Nealon, Minneapolis, Minn.

Answer: Alitalia should have paid both checks, as promised. Airlines typically compensate passengers when their luggage is lost by paying for new clothes and toiletries, and Alitalia had agreed in writing to do so. This should have been an open-and-shut case; instead, the airline just left you hanging with half the promised compensation.

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Alitalia’s published policy contradicts what you were told. You should have filled out a lost-luggage report and, if you were not a resident of the city in which your bags went missing, received some “basic necessities,” including toiletries.

Instead, the Alitalia representative sent you shopping. That may have been a misunderstanding on the part of the employee.

Even so, the airline agreed to cover the costs of your clothing for your Amalfi Coast vacation. And if it said it would, then it should have. You could have appealed your case to one of the supervisors at Alitalia. I list their names, numbers and email addresses on my consumer-advocacy site.

The paper trail of correspondence between you and Alitalia is frustrating. It shows the airline promising two checks within five business days. When you ask about the second check, it revises its promise to one check in total. Perhaps something got lost in translation?

I contacted Alitalia on your behalf. The airline apologized and cut you a second check.

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or check out his adventures on his family adventure travel site. Contact him at chris@elliott.org. Read more of Christopher's articles here.

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