Six months ago, LATAM promised to pay me $144. I’m still waiting.

LATAM Airlines damages Julia Schiffman’s luggage and agrees to pay her for the loss. But it never does. Can we help her get her money?

Question: Over the New Year’s holiday, I traveled to Ecuador on LATAM Airlines. I had gifts for friends and family packed in my bags. My bags were lost on arrival but found the next day. One bag was damaged, and the TSA-approved lock was cut. Several new items had been taken from my bag. My other bag had the identical TSA lock and was untouched.

When I retrieved my bags from the LATAM’s office, I reported that one bag had been tampered with and brand-new items had been stolen. LATAM told me to file a claim and present my original receipts for the stolen items. I had only seven days to make the claim.

I followed their instructions and filed the claim. LATAM offered me $144 or an airline voucher. I wasn’t happy with the amount, and we spent several months arguing back and forth.

Three months later, I settled on the $144. I was told it would take 15 days for the money to be transferred to my account. Six months after the flight, I have yet to receive the money. I contacted the customer service department and was told they would look into it. They also told me not to contact them, and they would contact me. However, they have remained silent. I just don’t know what to do at this point. I am so angry. But this is completely LATAM Airlines’ fault and I don’t feel I should give up fighting. Can you help me? — Julia Schiffman, Carmel, Ind.

Answer: I don’t feel that you should give up fighting, either. If LATAM Airlines agreed to pay you $144 for your damaged bag and lost items within 15 days, it should have done so. It absolutely should not have held onto your money for six months. And, it should not have given you the “don’t call us, we’ll call you” reply to your inquiries.

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LATAM’s baggage policy isn’t clear about how long it should take to compensate a passenger for a damaged bag and lost items. If a lost bag is not found within 15 days, LATAM will begin the “compensation phase.” But for a damaged bag with lost contents, the compensation phase is unclear.

What is clear is that once you settled on a sum, LATAM Airlines shouldn’t have ignored you for another three months. At this time, you contacted our advocates. Before asking our advocates for help, you could have posted your question to our help forums, which are staffed by travel industry experts, and are often read by company executives. Our forum advocates may have had helpful suggestions for you. Or, you could have tried escalating your complaint to company executives. We list LATAM Airlines’ executive contact information on our website.

Our advocates contacted LATAM on your behalf. The airline contacted you and mailed you a check for $144. We’re happy that you didn’t give up fighting for your money and that we were able to help you resolve this problem.

Diane Perera

Diane and her family love to travel, and they do so as much as they can. Having experienced the downside of travel, and having learned so much from Elliott.org, led Diane to become an advocate and to help fight the good fight. Read more of Diane's articles here.

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