Damaged Luggage: Handle at the airport or long distance?

In helping a customer get compensation for their checked artwork that was damaged in transit, Chris Elliott recommends dealing with baggage issues at the airport rather than going home and dealing with customer service

    I probably would have stood my ground at the baggage claim office, rather than waiting until I got home to file a complaint. Once you leave an airport and begin dealing with an airline’s customer service department, your chances of resolving a problem plummet. Supervisors are authorized to offer compensation, and I suspect that you might have gotten as good a deal from the baggage claim office as you did from getting me involved.

It’s always better to deal face-to-face whenever possible, especially if a sufficiently empowered agent is on hand to assist. And it’s usually better to call an airport’s baggage office directly rather than an airline’s central lost baggage number. However, Chris apparently hasn’t ever had to deal with American’s lost bags folks at Reagan National:

    American Airlines baggage services at Washington-National was staffed with a man and two women. Both women were missing most of their teeth. The woman who took my claim never looked at me. She entered my home address, but wouldn’t take my business address (in case the bag came in and was ready to be delivered during the day, of course no one would be home).


    The helpful women processing the claim of the person next to me (off the same flight) explained that when flights are full sometimes weight issues prevent all bags from being loaded. The flight we came in on was less than half full, although strictly speaking I don’t know what kind of cargo load it might have had.


    When the claim process was done, she didn’t speak to me. She handed me a piece of paper. I asked if we were through, she didn’t answer.

Still, even in this situation Elliott’s advice isn’t wrong since American’s 800# was no better. Heh.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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