United said that my claim was settled — so where is the check?


United Airlines loses Lucas Zaiden’s bags. It agrees to reimburse him but never does. Can our advocates help him get paid?

Question: United Airlines recently lost my luggage. I filed a claim and the airline’s agent told me that they would first search for my luggage in their baggage warehouse. If the bag wasn’t found, the claims department would process my reimbursement. The entire process would take eight to 12 weeks from the day I filed the claim.

I didn’t hear back from United for a long time, so I contacted the claims department. Now, all of a sudden, United said that I was paid in full for my lost luggage. That never happened. So, I asked United for proof of payment, and I was left in the dark for weeks again.

United contacts I’ve been dealing with often get removed from the email list, leading me to another black hole. I can’t figure out who I should talk to next. Can you help? — Lucas Zaiden, San Francisco, CA.


Answer: You did everything you were supposed to do when you filed your claim with United Airlines. You submitted the required receipts and you answered all United’s questions about your bag. You also waited longer than the 12 weeks United needed to completely process your claim. Then, when you sent United an inquiry about the status of your claim, you were told that your claim had been paid. Except, you hadn’t received the payment.

It seems that United processed your claim and had a record of the reimbursement, but you hadn’t received it. When you informed United that you hadn’t been paid and asked for proof of payment, the airline didn’t reply. That was really frustrating and, as you said, left you to navigate a black hole.

Related story:   On your own

Before you asked our advocates for help, you tried to contact United executives by using the contact information on our website. You also could have posted your question to our help forums. The forums, which are staffed by travel industry experts, may have been a helpful source of information about how you could have continued to pursue your request with the airline.

Our advocates contacted United Airlines on your behalf. You told us that United had contacted you, apologized for the delay and was sending a check. We’re happy that we could help.


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.

  • MF

    Although it is rather cynical to think so, just like in the medical field where insurance payments to Dr’s. offices are sometimes delayed for excessive periods of time – if an insurance company delays payment on a million dollars worth of claims for a month, then they make the interest on that million dollars & help their cash position in the meantime. Perhaps the airlines create this kind of ‘friction’ to the same effect???

  • Attention All Passengers

    “Our advocates contacted United Airlines on your behalf. You told us that United had contacted you, apologized for the delay and was sending a check.”
    ——–
    I guess the translation is “United goofed up and never processed the refund in the first place. Then when they were contacted by Elliott.org, they don’t want to be put in a bad light or get bad press, so they finally did what they were supposed to do in the first place.”

  • MF

    From a bigger perspective, I wonder how many claims are ‘processed’ this way? It would be nice to see the stats on UA’s baggage loss claims, how many are not paid, average time between first contact & claim resolution, etc.

  • Donna Manz

    A travel insurance provider, such as Allianz, would have processed and paid out much sooner than three months! I”m surprised nobody questioned the lack of travel insurance …

  • jsn55

    People go on and on about travel insurance. But nobody purchases travel insurance on an airline tix. People have no idea how far an airline will go to not compensate them for errors. If you don’t have travel protection built into your credit card, perhaps you need to buy insurance.

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