Is this enough compensation? Refunded $800 for $2,500 worth of missing clothes

Leonard Henderson’s ski trip to Telluride, Colo., didn’t go as planned. US Airways lost his luggage and it stayed lost for the duration of the trip.

He had to buy new clothes, for which the airline promised to reimburse him, but when the time came for it to refund his purchases, US Airways balked. Henderson paid $2,500 for new gear, but the airline only covered $800.

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Is that enough?

Henderson feels ripped off.

I feel like the tiny little guy versus the corporate giant. The airline will not give me an explanation of how they came up with the reimbursement figure $800.

My claims person, Pam, was by far the rudest person I have had to deal with when calling. I asked to speak with her manager and she said, “Hold please.” Minutes later she returned, to say her manager is with another customer.

So why would US Airways only repay Henderson for a portion of his luggage?

The airline “did an inventory” of his delayed luggage and told Henderson that it didn’t find the same or similar ski apparel for which he’d billed the airline. In other words, US Airways believed he was trying to take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade his outfit at the airline’s expense.

Henderson denies that. He claims US Airways only opened one bag to check its contents, and since he’d packed it for two people, the contents wouldn’t have reflected every item he had to purchase.

[US Airways’] inventory account is incomplete. But Pam said she didn’t take the inventory so she can only go by what the person wrote down. I asked her to read it verbatim and she said, “That’s all it says, sir.”

Henderson says that’s no way to treat a passenger, let alone one who was flying in first class.

If we were not on a ski trip, the cost to replace our items to prevent further delay would not have been nearly as expensive. Please understand, the location and environment both contributed greatly to the cost factor.

We exited the plane in Durango with nothing but the clothes on our backs, a hotel reservation, I.D., a carry-on backpack with our laptop and a credit card.

I’ve reviewed Henderson’s lengthy claim several times, and I can’t see anything that would suggest he’s trying to hit US Airways up for new ski clothes. His luggage was lost four days of a five-day ski trip.

But I’ve had similar cases – notably weddings, where a very expensive dress or tuxedo is misplaced, and a new one must be purchased quickly. Airlines are understandably reluctant to pay up then, too. (US Airways is liable for up to $3,300 per ticketed passenger under federal law.)

I think this situation might have been prevented through clearer communication between US Airways and Henderson. What, exactly, was he authorized to buy and when? If the airline wasn’t going to spring for the designer ski shop in Telluride, then what would it rubber-stamp? A ski jacket from Wal-Mart in Durango?

Then again, does US Airways have a point? Is $800 enough? I mean, Henderson has a brand-new outfit for next season. That’s gotta be worth something. Or is it?

(Photo: An actual image of the contents of Henderson’s luggage.)

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