US Airways Lost And Found: "That's Pretty Low On Our Priority List"

We’re not the only ones confounded by US Airways disgustingly broken Lost and Found system. Randy writes:

So I lost the key to my girlfriend’s car, and have been trying to get it back. Unfortunately, the US Air lost and found system is entirely dependent on a simple web form. The web form has been inaccessible for at least a week, most likely a lot longer. Calling the lost and found just tells you to check the website. The website, (being down,) gives you an error message and tells you to call the internet help desk. They tell you to call the lost and found, which… you get the idea.

Here’s the entire angry letter I sent to customer relations. I’m still waiting to hear back….

(Photo: graphicPUSH)


To start the trip, I lost my car key on one of my flights (3980 from RDU to LGA or 2120 from LGA to BOS on Tuesday, June 5.) I am fully aware that this was my fault, and US Air representatives have reminded me time and time again that your company has no liability in lost item issues, but the process of trying to locate my item has been absurdly difficult and unproductive.

The ONLY way to submit a lost item claim is to use the form on the US Air website. This webpage has been inaccessible, as verified by every tech I have spoken to at the Internet Help Desk, for at least a week now. It has probably been a problem for much longer, but this is how long I’ve been checking.

Since the webpage was down, I began my 5 day long trek into phone-maze hell. The techs were able to give me a phone number for the Central Lost and Found in Phoenix. When I called, I was greeted by a recording instructing me to check the (broken) web page and submit my claim. There was no option to speak to anyone or even leave a message, and then the call disconnects.

Over the last 5 days, I have used over 500 cell phone minutes attempting to speak to anyone who could give me information on finding my lost car key. I have been hung up on repeatedly, given the same numbers over and over again, been stuck on hold for up to 20 minutes at a time, and have even had reps refuse to let me speak to supervisors.

Understandably, I am upset that I cannot even begin the process of locating my lost key, as it will cost me upwards of $400 to tow my car and get new keys programmed and cut. US Air has been incredibly unhelpful in the process of locating my property, and I have been flat out informed that this sort of thing is “pretty low on [US Air's] list of priorities.” When the customer needs US Air the most, your company seems completely unconcerned with helping. As of this point, I have yet to talk to anyone who can be of assistance, and the website is STILL down.

Now, we only lost our iPod nano. Completely our fault for not doing the ol’ self-patdown, but we at least had to put forth the effort of filing a claim with Lost and Found. If US Airway’s system is going to be this bad, they shouldn’t even pretend like they have a Lost and Found department, they should just put up a sign that says, “Lost something? Tough shit.”

UPDATE: Just as we were about to post this, Randy forwarded another email:

Ben,

I had talked to you earlier about US Air’s lost and found, and had received an almost identical email to the one you just posted. I emailed them back to inform them that the number is just a recording, etc… After 48 hours of waiting for my 2nd response, here’s what I got:

    Dear Randy,

    Thank you for visiting usairways.com.

    Unfortunately, we receive hundreds of items left behind and even more inquiries daily. While we rely on our passengers to maintain possession of their personal property and under no circumstances accept liability for them, we do our best and are often successful reuniting missing items with their owners.

    Items that are left behind may be turned in by a cleaning crew, our agents, fellow passengers or by airport personnel. It may be possible the found item was taken to the airport lost and found; therefore, you may wish to contact the airport authority to determine if this may be the case. Unclaimed items are kept at that station for 7 days, then turned over to our Central Lost and Found Department.

    At this time, there is not a lost and found link or the option to leave a voice message for lost items.

    Thank you for contacting US Airways.

    Sincerely,

    Gail P.

Wow, bollocks! Guess what happens when you contact the airport lost and found and tell them you left it on the plane? They tell you to contact the airline.

Now, Gail, if there’s no web form or voicemail, then how in the bloody blue blazes is one supposed to contact the Central Lost and Found Department? Maybe only by following the instructions The Consumerist posted? — BEN POPKEN

RELATED:
UPDATE: US Airways Broken Lost And Found Page
US Airways Numbers That Don’t Work Quite Right
US Airways Broken Lost And Found Page

Comments

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  1. iMike says:

    Even if it costs a couple of hundred bucks, seems to me that getting a key made is better than spending a week of elapsed time and ten plus hours on the phone trying to reach an airline that won’t have his key anyway.

    *puzzled*

  2. randalotto says:

    @iMike: Unfortunately, it’s $400 that I don’t really have at the moment. Time, on the other hand, I do have.

  3. pdxguy says:

    Anyone thought to complain about this to the FAA or whoever oversees airlines nowadays? Or, how about contacting the executive offices? Maybe a BBB complaint too.

  4. Flymaster says:

    IcelandAir pretty much told me “Tough” when I left a book behind. It wasn’t anything I really cared about, and it only cost me $15 to replace it, but even that was a better answer than getting teased with a fake lost and found.

  5. chrisgoh says:

    @randalotto: I’m a little confused by your story. Are you saying that you only have one key total for your car, otherwise, why will you need to have it towed? Also, sounds like you left it at the airport and need to have it towed from there. If it has been a week on that already, don’t forget that the meter is running on parking too. Since I can’t imagine a key costs anywhere near $400, you should be able to just buy one from the dealer without having to have the car towed in and then just go pick up the car.

  6. Shadowman615 says:

    Now I want a T-Shirt like that:

    “USAir. Lost Something? Tough Shit!”

  7. MeOhMy says:

    @chrisgoh:

    Since I can’t imagine a key costs anywhere near $400…

    Aaaactually, some keys actually do cost that much to replace, particularly if it’s one of those folding all-in-one jobs distributed by certain German manufacturers.

  8. MeOhMy says:


    Just closing my tag. Don’t mind me.

  9. randalotto says:

    @chrisgoh: Unfortunately, my girlfriend bought the car used and it only came with one key. Currently, the car is parked in the park and ride lot at the airport. At $7 a day, I figured it was worth it to wait a day or two and see if we could make any progress.

    As for the price, it’s a Jetta, which unfortunately requires 2 keys to program. Even if I get a basic key and only one remote, it’ll cost at least $380 for parts and labor, (before tax and various fees.)

  10. chrisgoh says:

    Wow! I had no idea. Do they only give you one to try and milk you for an extra $400 to buy a second?

  11. chrisgoh says:

    Thanks, unfortunately, you will probably have to suck it up. At least you will end up with two keys now!

  12. RandomHookup says:

    Actually, I recommend the ‘buddy patdown’ system at the end of each flight.

  13. axiomatic says:

    Yeah be nice to this guy. I have a RFID Infiniti G-35 key (its not really a key but a wireless dongle kind of thing) and Infiniti charges exactly $400 to replace it if you loose one.

    Yes they are convenient to have, but expensive to replace. Not everyone drives a POS that uses a $20 dollar key.

    American cars have these now as an option as well.

  14. boandmichele says:

    I used to have an old Toyota MR2 Turbo, (loved that car), and locked my only set of keys in the trunk. I called my local Toyota dealership, gave them the last 6 of my VIN, and they made me a new key for free. It would have cost me about $6 regardless, but still, a great gesture.

    Your lost key might be one of the laser-cut, chipped specialty keys, but still… buy it, get your car and your new key, and THEN fight the good fight.

  15. Buran says:

    @randalotto: You can buy blanks on eBay but you have to make sure you buy the right ones, then you have to have the key cut (a dealer can do this) and yes, alas you do need two to program a new key. Or have a dealer do it.

    If you go the eBay route, it won’t cost $400 at least for the part but it will cost you some labor.

  16. Buran says:

    @chrisgoh: No, new VWs come with two full keys (switchblade remote) and one valet key, but apparently this one was used.

  17. The Bigger Unit says:

    axiomatic: Thank you for belittling my vehicle.

  18. mac-phisto says:

    @axiomatic: & not everyone needs to compensate for something by buying a car w/ $400 keys.

  19. cde says:

    I sure do love my 2 dollar easy to make anywhere GM car key…

  20. docwho76 says:

    If you *really* want to find out the number to call for US Air could could try a simple war dialing of all the possible 4 digit numbers so you would try each combination of 480-693-XXXX. Obviously, start with numbers around the voicejail number and dial outwards from that and there is a decent chance you will happen upon the actual employee phone line for that office location.

    Other possibilities include:
    * Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport
    * 602-244-1840

    OR (480) 693-4182 which I found here:
    http://phoenix.gov/skyharborairport/food_shops_services/lo

    You could try sending certified mail to Central Lost and Found here:

    http://www.google.com/maps?f=l&hl=en&q=us+airways&near=400

    Or contact their executives:
    Henrí Dawes
    Director, customer relations
    4000 E. Sky Harbor Boulevard
    Phoenix, AZ 85034
    (866) 523-5333
    henri.dawes@usairways.com

    Secondary contact (*)

    Anthony Mulé
    Senior vice president, customer service
    (480) 693-6775
    anthony.mule@usairways.com

    Chief executive (*)

    Doug Parker
    Chairman, president and chief executive officer
    (480) 693-6775
    douglas.parker@usairways.com

    Primary e-mail

    CustomerCare@usairways.com

    OR

    executive.office@usairways.com

    (866) 523-5333
    (480) 693-6775
    Central baggage resolution (for bags missing more than 5 days) (866) 874-3931

    How to get through to an operator
    Press 4 and 1

    One of these should help you (I hope)

  21. zekedms says:

    Unfortunately, where you lose a small item makes a huge difference as to recovery. If it was lost luggage, with a tracking tag on it, no matter where it’s lost that’s easily recovered.

    But, small items like car keys dropped in the terminal are often pocketed by maintainance, and can be dropped at a service counter. If something’s dropped on a plane or the tarmac, though, it’s as good as gone. Items dropped on a plane are often tossed with the other trash, and if something hits the tarmac, it’s FOD(Foreign Object Debris, quickly becoming Foreign Object Damage). As a rule, if a ramper sees something on the ground, he picks it up and throws it away. Even a small key can cause real damage to a plane(or a person if it gets shout out of an engine or propeller), and we don’t have time to visit lost and found. I threw away a lot of luggage keys myself and the occasional car key, as the official policy is, along with a laptop key or two.

    The only thing that I ever found and didn’t toss was a passport. And they told me to throw it into the trash can anyway, but I decided it was worth tracking the owner down. Even at that, as the item had no contact info, the policy was to throw it away.

  22. axiomatic says:

    Why all the hate guys? I was just agreeing that this can cost $400 to resolve?

    FYI, I saved up for 3 years to get my G-35. I am not rolling in $$$ I just wanted a nice car for the first time in my life.

    You guys are rabid.

  23. acambras says:

    @axiomatic:
    You guys are rabid.

    I agree. To me, the real point of this story is that the OP lost an item, had trouble navigating the airline’s Lost and Found system (or lack thereof, and then an airline rep had the unmitigated temerity to say that passengers’ lost items are “pretty low on [US Air's] list of priorities.”

    It doesn’t matter what the item was or how much it cost — the real story here is US Air’s f***ed up system and the poor customer “service” that the OP had to deal with.

  24. Buran says:

    @The Nature Boy: This fellow VW nut says “forget it, they just don’t have our excellent taste in enjoyable, fun-to-drive cars”! Picking up 3rd VW on the 27th …

  25. Buran says:

    @zekedms: How can a passport have no contact info? (what are these things doing on the tarmac anyway? I guess maybe they fell off the jetway?)

  26. ggslancaster says:

    Just an update to your post, two years later. The US Air web site still has a broken link to Lost & Found, and there is still no way to communicate with them about how to contact the (imaginary?) Central Lost & Found office.

    I did have a lovely flight attendant contact me after I left an ipod on a US AIr flight this spring. She got my name and email off of the ipod, emailed me asking for my address, and mailed it from her own home at her own expense. She said she knows that US Air never returns lost items, so she hated to turn it in. I thanked her personally, and sent her a small gift in return! But unfortunately, I can’t credit her employer with encouraging this level of CS, as they clearly do not care about returning customers’ belongings as a corporate policy.

    I read on a blog this year, of excellent customer service from Southwest Airlines regarding a lost item. Clearly some airlines are invested in creating loyal customers.

    I did send an email both to the web site IT department, and to the customer service department. I’ll post back if they have anything to say.