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

By | January 10th, 2017

Answer: I’m sorry to hear you’ve been having so much trouble with American Airlines’ customer service. You’re in good company, unfortunately; American Airlines is our most-complained-about company for 2016.

American’s conditions of carriage indicate that for missing baggage,

American’s liability for loss, damage or delayed delivery of checked baggage, including transfer baggage, is limited to the actual value of the baggage or $3,500, whichever is less, unless the passenger declares a higher value for loss of baggage, not to exceed $5,000.00 including the $3,500 standard liability per passenger and pays American a sum of $5.00 per $100.00 (or any portion thereof) of excess value.

American’s conditions of carriage mandate the following conditions for compensation to passengers for delayed or lost baggage:

In the case of delay or loss, an initial complaint must be presented to American prior to leaving the arrival airport for which the baggage was checked or should have been checked. At the latest, such initial report must be made within four hours of the arrival of the flight on which the passenger traveled. For passengers purchasing the American Airlines baggage delivery service provided through Bags VIP Luggage Delivery in advance of travel, the initial report must be made within 12 hours of the arrival of the flight on which the passenger traveled.
If compensation is sought for a delay or loss, a written claim, in the form provided by American, must be received by American no later than 45 days after the initial report was presented and recorded by American.

Since the value and timing of your claim falls within American’s limits, American should have acted promptly to reimburse you for the total amount of your claim.

Why didn’t it do so? One reason may be that your emails to American’s agents contain some strong language, which would not have been likely to move American to expedite your claim. Another may be that American is claiming that you indicated that on your return flight, its personnel were not as courteous to you as they should have been.

Given that at that time your bag was still missing, I’m wondering if you might have provoked a crew member or other employee of American. It’s understandable that the delay in resolving your claim is frustrating, but it’s never appropriate to make accusations or use sarcasm when filing a customer service complaint.

Still another issue with your claim is the fact that American seems to have had two postal addresses for you and had to ask you to clarify which one was correct.

You might have escalated your complaint using our executive contacts for American Airlines, but you asked our advocates for assistance in resolving your claim. We reached out to American Airlines on your behalf.

It took a few more months and multiple contacts by our advocates, but American has issued you a check for the amount of your claim.

  • 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).

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