Travel Betty

Encouraging Fearless Independent Travel For Women

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Baggage Thefts Go Unchecked. How Can We Hold Airlines Responsible?

May 23rd, 2007 · No Comments

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So last week, Travel Boyfriend flew from San Francisco to Veracruz, Mexico having placed his portable DVD player in his checked luggage. Not surprisingly, when he arrived the DVD player was gone. His letter to the airline was responded to with a message that states:

“For your information Travel Boyfriend (yes, that’s his real name), the International Air Transport Association (I.A.T.A.) and The Department of Transportation (DOT), dictates that carriers, may not be held responsible for the loss or damage to fragile items, perishables, jewelry, photographic or movie cameras, electric/electronic articles, money, silverware, documents, medicines, spirits, tools, unconventional luggage or other valuables included in the passenger’s checked baggage, with or without the knowledge of the carrier. Based upon the above we must respectfully decline any request for compensation.”

Having also been the victim of luggage-contents theft a few years back flying from Las Vegas, I remembered a similar note I’d received. Now, I know you shouldn’t pack anything in your luggage that you aren’t willing to lose, but is that really the way we want to live? The more important question is what can we do to change this? I mean, since the airline won’t cover the loss, it also means they won’t investigate it. Case closed, as they say. So nothing dissuades employees who have access to our bags from stealing things. Well, aside from a conscience and maybe for religious people, fear of eternal hellfire. Based on experience though, these two things don’t seem to be all that persuasive anymore.

Now that carry-on restrictions have gotten so ridiculously tight, we’re having to check more items than we normally would. So it seems that you’re basically screwed either way. Services such as Luggage Forward are popping up promising that you can avoid all the hassle and actually have your bags shipped to you through a third-party. They aren’t particularly cheap ($288 total for a 2-bag sample fare from San Francisco to Vegas and back). Or very convenient (the price quoted is if you ship your bag a week before departure and don’t mind not getting it back up to a week after you return). Is this what we’ve come to? It almost makes you want to skip planes altogether and hop in the car. If one of my fellow Travel Betties figures out how to circumnavigate the globe in a Miata, let me know. I’m all ears!

Travel Betty Basics

The Travel Insider has a really thorough article on our need for a Passenger’s Bill of Rights with an electronic petition for you to sign if you feel so inclined (and you should!)

Travel Betty Banter

Have your had valuables stolen from your luggage? What steps did you take to get the airlines to resolve the issue? Let’s stage a protest in the comments section.

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Tags: Air Travel

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