Help! American lost my luggage and shorted me on the replacement

American loses Paymon Rouhanifard’s luggage, but won’t fully compensate him for the replacements he had to buy. Can our advocates help Rouhanifard recover his unexpected costs?

Question: My wife and I flew with our two-year-old son to California on American Airlines last December to visit my parents. On our outbound flight, American lost one of our bags. This particular bag held all of our son’s clothes, diapers and toys. American did not locate the bag during our trip. We purchased replacements for the bag and all of its contents during the trip for $1,200.

We made numerous calls and emails to American and filled out its online form for a delayed bag search request. In addition, at American’s agents’ request, we forwarded them copies of all our receipts. But we didn’t hear from American for weeks. Over a month passed before American located the missing bag.

Then we learned that American was not willing to compensate us for the entire amount of our claim – only what they thought we needed during our visit to California. American’s agents didn’t specify how much they would reimburse us. Almost a year later, American still hasn’t notified us of their final decision as to how much compensation they will provide. Its agents have offered me a $100 voucher and 15,000 AAdvantage miles, but have indicated that since my claim is over $1,000, they need higher-level approval to reimburse me any additional amounts.

I’m at a loss – and beyond frustrated. Can you help us get American to reimburse us? — Paymon Rouhanifard, Camden, N.J.

Jennifer Finger

Jennifer is the founder of KeenReader, an Internet-based freelance editing operation, as well as a certified public accountant. She is a senior writer for Read more of Jennifer's articles here.

  • WaldoLydecker

    Does $1,200 strike anyone else as a lot for children’s clothes, toys and diapers? (I don’t have kids so it may be perfectly reasonable.)

  • Sue Smith

    There is no way that what was packed in a childs suitcase would ever reach $1200. What they should have done is when the bag was located, open it, itemize and value each item, and return the bag. That way they could determine if his claim was fraudulent and bring charges against him if he grossly inflated the contents. I abhor people who “play the system” and think they can get away with it.

  • Rebecca

    I have a 1 and 2 year old. If the luggage containing their clothes and diapers was lost, I could take a couple hundred bucks to target and replace several days clothes, diapers and some toys for BOTH of them. Easily. The amount is outrageous. I can’t imagine what kind of toddler clothes add up to anywhere near that amount.

  • AJPeabody

    I think on reading the issue that the bag did contain the child’s things, but it does not state that it contained only the child’s things. I suspect the other items increased the loss.

  • Richard Smith

    The costs include the luggage being replaced. A large bag could easily be half the claim. Also lost were the child’s toys. I don’t see a requirement to replace the toys/clothing with “the cheapest possible,” I see “the actual value.” The parents are allowed to purchase high end clothing and toys, and if the airline loses them, the airline is required to replace them, up to the value limits described.

  • cscasi

    She states she purchased replacements for the bag and all of its contents. Did she have a $600 bag? No matter, because American finally found the lost bag.
    But, on top of that, American is not going to pay her for the full replacement cost because it deducts for wear and tear.
    She did have to purchase clothes for the children and since checked bag was not found before they had to return, I am sure that is why she had to purchase a new bag. Still, one has to be prudent in what is purchased.
    I feel she was owed (and finally received) more than the $100 travel voucher and 15,000 AA miles. Glad it all worked out, but the length of time it took American to pay seems ridiculous!

  • Rebecca

    I’m not saying the cheapest possible. I’m saying that it’s difficult to spend $1200 on clothes for toddlers. You wpuld have to go out of your way to buy stuff just for the logo. Diapers for a trip certainly aren’t more than $50. “Toys” is a VERY subjective term. I travel with my kids. The only things I would have to replace (that I can think of anyways) that are expensive are their car seats (which were about $350 each, and don’t fit in a bag) and their tablets (which obviously we bring on the plane). They did eventually find the bag. To run and spend $1200 on clothes and toys, plus a suitcase, for one child is ridiculous. If the bag was never located, I can buy the argument that they’re replacing exactly what they had. I wouldn’t personally spend that much, but to each their own. But to run out and spend $1200 is ridiculous.

  • Jeff W.

    After seeing your comment and re-reading the article, you may be correct. There is no implication that the suitcase contained only children’s clothing. Only that the one bag that was lost happened to contain all of the clothing and stuff packed for the child.

  • Jeff W.

    While I also doubt a $1200 claim, it is unlikely that any of the clothing exhibits wear and tear. The child is more likely to outgrow the item than to wear it out.

    Depending on the child, it is also possible that the young one outgrew the clothes in the month or so the bag was missing. I don’t know how many times I purchased something for my child when he was very little only for him to outgrow it a month later.


    But $1200 still seems high. We have had a lost bag only once when my husband’s was stolen from baggage claim at an airport in Europe two years ago. (Friends waiting at the bag claim saw someone take his rather notable bag and tried to stop them, but to no avail.) We replaced both the bag and clothes for 2 weeks for about $500.00 at the rather high rates of exchange at that time. They may have other things in it but the amount still sounds a bit too much.

  • LonnieC

    Seemed very high to me as well.

  • joycexyz

    The length of time was probably because of that unusually high claim amount. Seems over the top for some children’s clothing and a few toys, plus the bag. And you’re right about the value versus replacement cost.

  • joycexyz

    Designer clothes??? But you’re right–the child doesn’t know the difference between designer versus bargain brand.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    “But to run out and spend $ 1200 is ridiculous”

    They are gaming the system…scammers.

  • ArizonaRoadWarrior

    When my son was that age, we purchased a few good outfits from Jamboree for $ 15 to $ 10 but most of his clothes were purchased from Target because he only wore them for a short period of time.

  • C Schwartz

    It took the airline a month to find the luggage. I almost think that if someone was trying to game the system the claim would have been much higher as the limit is $3,500. We have no idea how long the trip was — was it 15 days and there were 25 outfits as toddlers are messy and the parents did not want to do laundry? There are people that spend a lot of money on the clothes for their children. Whether you or I think it is a wise use of money, that is the choice of the parent as it is their money. Could parents spend 30 to 40 dollars per outfit? Sure if not more. Do the parents buy all organic cotton clothes and upscale baby wash and such? If someone has a Tumi suitcase that can be around $400 — again not my choice but I see people picking them up at the baggage claim. I liked the look of a piece of luggage I saw a passenger had so I priced it — around 600 for Rimowa. I am not prepared to spend that but a lot do otherwise the company would be out of business. If I am on a trip and my luggage is delayed for an extended period I am not going to buy the cheapest thing possible because that is what is best for the airline. The airline misplaced the luggage for a month — this was not a two day delay.

  • Harvey-6-3.5

    Not so hard. If the bag is $600, then five outfits at $125 (see could easily push the total to $1200. While my wife would recoil in horror at spending $125 on something our kids would have outgrown, my sisters-in-law often spent amounts not much less than that on their infant clothes. What is ridiculous to you may be reasonable to someone else (though not me).

Get smart. Sign up for the newsletter.