Bridal Gown Vanishes From US Airways During Flight To Wedding

Jenn is from the Outer Banks of North Carolina, and lives in Pennsylvania. She held her wedding in her hometown, and eight days before the wedding, she flew down to prepare. Her wedding gown didn’t make it. Someone stole the gown out of her checked baggage.

On May 1, I traveled via US Airways to my hometown on the Outer Banks of NC for my wedding, which was May 9. I carefully folded up my wedding dress and packed it inside a suitcase, and checked it. That was an incredibly stupid move on my part. At the airport in Pittsburgh, they asked for volunteers to take the next flight out in exchange for a free round trip ticket for future use, as they had overbooked. I happily volunteered, because my layover in Charlotte was going to be 4 hours long, and I would still be on the same connecting flight. I thought it was a great deal for me.

When I arrived in New Bern, NC my luggage had somehow arrived before me, and I had to retrieve it from the baggage office. When I picked up the bag, I nearly fell over because I expected it to be about 25 pounds heavier than it was. I opened the bag in front of the desk agents and inside was the ripped open garment bag, complete with broken zipper and a broken hanger. There was no dress. My mother, who picked me up at the airport, was as calm as possible when she explained to the agent that my wedding was 8 days away, and how were they going to proceed with finding my dress. The response started with “Well, are you sure you packed it?” (Yes. It’s my WEDDING. I’m certain that I did not absentmindedly leave the dress behind.) then progressed to “Well, we didn’t lose your dress, we have nothing to do with that,”
and finally to “We can fill out a report, and you can expect a phone call tomorrow.”

Tomorrow came, but there was no phone call. I called them around 3pm, and was told that they couldn’t find a file with my name or with the file number I was provided with, and it can take up to a week before the pilfered bag reports even get into their system.

Yes, Consumerist. I was told that despite the fact that my wedding was now 7 days away, it would be about 7 days before they would even BEGIN investigating my missing dress.

For those who don’t know, formal wedding gowns are very complicated. Finding one straight off of a rack is difficult, especially in a tiny town with the nearest chain bridal shop (David’s Bridal) being over 2 hours away. First, the gal finds the dress she wants. It more or less never fits perfectly, so she has to take it to be altered, which can take several weeks to complete. For my dress, it had been taken up 4 inches, the train had a bustle installed, the halter neck had to be shortened, and the torso of the dress had to be taken out a full two inches for a total cost of nearly $300. The dress itself cost nearly $700. And now, US Airways was telling me I was SOL, and I was going to have to find another dress in just a couple of days, as it was already about 4pm when I got off the phone, the following day was Sunday, and I’d need at least 2 days for alterations.

My mother, my aunt and I scoured stores for a couple of days looking for ANYTHING that would suffice as a wedding dress. We came up empty handed until Tuesday afternoon, when we found a dress at a bridal shop that was my size. It was, by no means, a dress I would have chosen in any other situation, but because of the urgency of the situation, I was forced to take whatever I could get. We found a seamstress in a neighboring town who was willing to do the necessary alterations in a huge rush for an exorbitant amount of money, and I was able to pick up the dress the morning of the wedding.

My new husband and I returned from NC yesterday. I stopped by the baggage office at the Pittsburgh airport and asked them about it, but they hadn’t heard anything about it. I called US Airways again when I got home, and there is STILL no record of anything.

I’m not sure where to go from here. I have receipts for everything. Both dresses, all alterations, both sets of shoes and undergarments, etc. Is small claims court the best route to take?

Jenn admits that putting the gown in checked luggage was a mistake. Still, that doesn’t give someone with access to luggage a license to steal her gown, and airline employees seem to have thrown up their hands. Her dress hasn’t turned up yet. What do you, the readers, suggest? Other than virtually smashing wedding cake in airline executives’ faces with an EECB.

(Photo: Corey Ann)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. MissPeacock says:

    That’s just AWFUL. And I love how they had no record of her complaint in the system the next day. EECB them, Jenn!!

    • Anonymous says:

      @MissPeacock: It is terrible that your dress has never been found and even more so that the airline has no record of your complaint. As an airline employee I can tell you that I will never check a bag. My guess is in this instance that TSA, the government security agency at the airport, has taken your gown. They randomly open bags to do security checks. Except for supervisors the TSA agents have no more clearance than the airline employees. In most instances they also are allowed to bypass security checks at the beginning and end of their shifts. Just something to think about….

  2. acknight says:

    How would a wedding dress fit without being ruined in most carry on bags?

    • maddypilar says:

      @acknight: It was not a carry on. It was in checked luggage.

    • Etoiles says:

      @acknight: That’s just it. I don’t know about hers, but mine is a pretty simple, not-poofy dress and I still don’t think I could reliably get it in carry-on. The best way I could think of transporting it by air would be in one of those garment bag suitcases, the hard folding kind. And those almost always need to be checked.

      I sincerely hope that she or her mother had a cell phone with camera capabilities on them when retrieving the suitcase, and took pictures of the clearly-damaged empty garment bag right there in the luggage office.

      (Funnily enough, I also know exactly where New Bern is. That’s where my soon-to-be mother-in-law is originally from. And it really is the middle of nowhere. Absolutely gorgeous place for a wedding, but yeah, definitely not a good place to be needing a last-minute anything.)

      • Parsnip says:

        @Etoiles:

        I’m the person who sent this into Consumerist.

        The dress was this one: [www.bestbridalprices.com]

        I placed it in it’s white garment bag, folded it and got it into the (rather large) suitcase. I had an appointment at a local shop to have it steamed to be nice and wrinkle free for pick up before the wedding.

        It didn’t even occur to me to take photos of the empty suitcase. I did, however, open the bag in full view of US Airways employees. I also have receipts for both dresses, both sets of alterations, etc.

        • KLETCO says:

          @pezstar: It’s beautiful! I hope you still had a lovely wedding.

        • Etoiles says:

          @pezstar: Yeah, that would definitely be hard to get into a carry-on.

          As someone planning a wedding for early this fall, I am so sorry you went through this, BTW. It’s exactly the kind of thing even a mild-tempered mild-mannered bride really needs NOT to happen. I hope that everything else about the day went well!

        • pecan 3.14159265 says:

          @pezstar: Bravo on picking a gorgeous dress. And sorry for US Air’s craptitude.

        • Kos says:

          @pezstar:

          Pez, this story cries out for local media coverage. I’m sure a bridal shop and some local seamstresses would step for the feel-good publicity.

          Good luck.

          • kexline says:

            @Kos: I hate to do this to well-intended replies, but I’m doing it this time:

            Please, for the love of all things holy, either read the article or don’t reply.

        • Groovymarlin says:

          @pezstar: Heart-breaking. I’m so sorry that happened to you! It sucks to be the victim of a crime, but when it messes up your wedding plans it’s really harsh (weddings are stressful enough, am I right?).

          What blows my mind is that someone in USAir baggage handling obviously opened your bag, saw a dress, and stole it right out of the garment bag, which makes no sense to me. I mean, what the hell? Does that mean that their baggage handlers are going through ALL of our luggage looking for valuables to swipe? It’s really pretty creepy the more I think about it.

          I think you should get all the media coverage of this incident that you can, because it obviously points to a larger problem.

          Best wishes in your new marriage, in any case. :)

          • FigNinja says:

            @Groovymarlin:

            What blows my mind is that someone in USAir baggage handling obviously opened your bag, saw a dress, and stole it right out of the garment bag, which makes no sense to me. I mean, what the hell? Does that mean that their baggage handlers are going through ALL of our luggage looking for valuables to swipe? It’s really pretty creepy the more I think about it.

            I suppose they may have seen it on a scan but it’s still creepy. What also occurs to me is that it seems pretty impossible to smuggle a dress that large out of the work area unseen which means there are probably other baggage handlers that knew someone stole it and said nothing.

          • Anonymous says:

            @Groovymarlin:
            In my experience as an aircraft mechanic for a small airline, most baggage handlers are pretty much above caring what you have in your luggage, they would much rather enjoy their breaks in between flights than rifle through random luggage. In addition, anyone who is allowed access to the tarmac area of the airport has to undergo an extremely thorough FBI background check. I would instead be more inclined to believe that someone from the TSA went through the luggage and stole the dress. TSA agents are legally allowed to rummage through luggage at-will, and there are several incidents I’m aware of where a TSA agent has tried to “confiscate” an expensive item that was not the least bit dangerous.

            • TWSS says:

              @PrestonDictys: Too bad not all baggage handlers are as conscientious: [wweek.com]

              Essentially, NW baggage handlers were conspiring with other employees to steal electronics and designer apparel from checked luggage. One of them felt shafted, so she narced, but ended up being implicated herself. The manager was aware of the thefts, but did nothing to punish the thieves or even monitor their activities.

              I wouldn’t trust a “thrower” as far as I could, well, throw ‘er. Needless to say, I NEVER check luggage anymore.

            • Shivver says:

              @PrestonDictys: I have to take issue with your comment. I work for TSA in a medium sized airport (~3500 passengers a day) and in the two years I’ve been there I have never seen anyone steal anything. I have, however, seen a great many baggage handlers fired for infractions large and small, including a guy who was fired when he was arrested for stealing money at an old-age home he also worked at. Not only that, but come end up losing their jobs several weeks after they start because their background check is not completed when they start working and facts come to light that make it impossible for them to get cleared to work. Just today one of the baggage handlers stole a pocket knife from our baggage area that had fallen out of a passenger’s bag the night before.

          • starbreiz says:

            @Groovymarlin: “Does that mean that their baggage handlers are going through ALL of our luggage looking for valuables to swipe?” I believe the answer to be yes. My mom, who had never flown until I moved to CA and she came to visit, put all of her meds in her checked luggage. (I didn’t think to tell her not to do that!) Some jackass took the pills and left the empty bottles. She didn’t even have anything good!

        • lolan64 says:

          @pezstar: Your story makes me so sad, especially with such a stunning dress gone missing. :( I hope you had a lovely wedding anyway and that you get some justice for this!

        • Charlotte Rae's Web says:

          @pezstar: I hope your wedding was lovely still – we love the Outer Banks and visit at least twice a year. Here’s to love and happiness for you guys.

        • merekat says:

          @pezstar: Jenn, You have my sympathies. I am getting married in two weeks, but in the town I live in. I would probably have a massive anxiety attack if this happened to me. About 12 years ago, I flew home form Luxembourg for Christmas and found my bag (with gifts inside) had not arrived. They had been mislabeled at some point int heir journey from Baltimore to Columbus. I filed a report, and called every day. On Christmas Eve, my travel agent called to say the airline had contacted them. The bag arrived at 4 a.m. Xmas morning.

          Coincidentally, for those of you who don’t know, a lot of wedding dresses int he store are samples. You have to order one in your size, then wait 6-8 weeks (if you pay for it to be ‘rushed’) for it to come from China, where it is made. Then you pick it up and have the necessary alterations made.

          My matrons of honor (who have done the whole wedding dress buy and wait before) were pissed when they found out they had to wait for their dresses to arrive. I had mine made from scratch by a local seamstress.

          That said, I hope you give US Airways the hell they deserve! Go be a Bridezilla!!!!!!

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Etoiles: I haven’t done this myself, but if you let the airline/checkin people/flight attendants know you’re carrying on your wedding dress, they’ll sometimes let you carry on something too big, or hang it in the first-class coat closet, or similar. A few friends of mine have done this.

        (Also, my seminary roommate student pastored in New Bern. Small, small world. :) )

        • Etoiles says:

          @Eyebrows McGee (popping ~May 29): I actually don’t have to fly for my wedding, as it turns out — I’m making 90 people come to *us*. mwahahaha! I was just kind of thinking it through.

          (I also tend to fly on JetBlue or Southwest, as a loyal customer of both, so I don’t tend to see a first class coat closet, hehe.)

          • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

            @Etoiles: Please tell me you went (or will) go Bridezilla on ‘em. OMG, my wedding is in a year in Raleigh, so luckily, no flight needed. But if my dress somehow disappeared, I’d definitely be in full-bore Bridezilla mode.

            In any case, congrats and best of luck to you. :)

    • Luckwouldhaveit says:

      @acknight: I’ve always heard that you should bring your dress in a garment bag, and ask the flight attendants to put it in the coat rack in first class. I’ve heard that they will usually find a way to help.

      This is also what my guy does when he has to travel with his guitar(s) – if he checks them, the pressure puts them all out of tune and it takes a long time to get them back in tune. So, he’ll ask a flight attendant or other airline staff to stow it in the first class closet, and as far as I know, they always find a place for it.

      • DrGirlfriend says:

        @Luckwouldhaveit: I’ve always heard that you should bring your dress in a garment bag, and ask the flight attendants to put it in the coat rack in first class. I’ve heard that they will usually find a way to help.

        That’s what I did and it worked just fine.

    • DreamTheEndless: Death's little brother says:

      @acknight: Just brainstorming here – what would be the best solution here? I mean, before hand…
      She said that it was a mistake to have checked the dress – what other options were there? Should she have Fed-exed it to herself instead? She would have at least been able to insure it…

  3. ospreyguy says:

    Contact the dress maker/seamstress with an explanation and see if they have anything that will be close to the size and style that can be fitted shipped to you. They should have your measurements on file still… It may cost but perhaps some of the costs can be recouped in a year or two from US Airways… Bwwwaa HAHAHA couldn’t hold that one in!

  4. joellevand says:

    When I flew to Vegas to elope, I brought with me my “wedding dress” (a white bridesmaid’s dress). I called ahead to the airline (Continental) about bringing it; they said to just ask a flight attendant to hang it up for me when I boarded. So, I packed the dress in its garment bag and headed for the airport. I asked again at check in about storing it, and was told the same thing — just ask a FA to hang it up for you. “The flight’s not even that full.” Guess what? Boarded the plane and the FA told me, “Sorry, all the coat space is filled up. You should have checked it.”

    Check my wedding dress? O RLY?

    In the end, a kindly FA took pity on me and let me travel with it folded in my lap.

    • funnymonkey says:

      @joellevand: The only way to absolutely be sure you’ll get to use the closet for something is to have a first class seat, so you’re the first to board. Not very realistic, I know. When I brought my guitar from my parents house to my home (Atlanta to Chicago), I got lucky – my mom had used her frequent flier miles for me and, for some reason, for the return flight, they would only let her book first class. The agent at the gate only let me through because, when she asked “Did they let you bring that on board on your way here?” I said “yes.” However, the FAs were super-nice about storing it, but no one was on the plane yet.

      I really hope the OP gets something from TSA or US Airways.

      Maybe this type of thing will lead to the death of airlines, and train travel will have a resurgence.

      • algorhythmic says:

        @funnymonkey: Even a first class seat does not guarantee it. My husband and I flew first class to Hawaii to elope. When I booked the tickets, the CSR told me that the FA would hang my dress in the closet for me. I brought my dress in a garment bag and asked the FA to hang it. She said that they didn’t have any room in the closets and forced me to shove it in an overhead bin! Even though I put it in the bin as gingerly as possible, the dress lost a bunch of beading in the process. I hate American Airlines.

        • b.k. says:

          I eloped to Vegas, too! I put my dress in a garment bag I bought specifically to carry a poofy wedding dress.(The garment bag cost more than my dress, which was $10 off of eBay. But as the OP stated, it took over a month of weekly alterations to get it to fit just right. There was no way I was letting it out of my sight.) I rolled up the bag and smooshed the excess air out so it was like a little duffel bag. If they would’ve let me, I would’ve carried it in my lap. But I put it in the overhead carry-on bin. My only concern was making sure there was time at the hotel to get wrinkles out, if there were any. But apparently rolling it up prevented such things. Or maybe it was the 10 pounds of tulle, I dunno.

  5. Snakeophelia says:

    Poor thing! I, too, live in PA and flew to NC for my wedding. I spent $200 shipping everything, including my dress, down to NC via FedEx. My fiancé thought I was being paranoid. How the heck have we gotten to this situation where it’s not only a given that your valuables will be stolen from you, but also a given that the airlines won’t care?

    • emis says:

      @Snakeophelia:
      How the heck have we gotten to this situation where it’s not only a given that your valuables will be stolen from you, but also a given that the airlines won’t care?

      The two are intertwined…

      The valuable are stolen BECAUSE the airlines don’t care.

      If the airlines did care then they would stop their employees from stealing them–then theft would be reduced to a much less common occurrence and would be solved (or at least resolved) in a timely manner.

    • babyruthless says:

      @Snakeophelia: My college had very specific class rings, with a large onyx stone. A friend’s stone had cracked, and she was flying with it in her luggage to have it repaired while she was at home. She gets to destination, finds that the ring box is empty, calls the airline, and they tell her that it must have fallen out, and they can’t be liable for things that fall out of your luggage. Oh, really? A ring falls out of its box and out of the luggage, but the box remains mysteriously inside the luggage? Really?

      • Etoiles says:

        @babyruthless: I had a friend who arrived home in California, after flying from NY via O’Hare, to find that her make-up case was still inside her checked luggage, but that all of the make-up and jewelry had been removed from the inside of it. I mean, really?! Used mascara and handmade silver/bead jewelry is worth stealing like that?

        • LadySiren is murdering her kids with HFCS and processed cheese says:

          @Etoiles: Um, ewwwww. One thing they say to never share is mascara – there’s a chance you can catch something from using someone else’s mascara wand. OMG, ick.

        • burnedout says:

          @Etoiles: Yup, I flew to Phoenix for this past Christmas. Our luggage got there, but United’s incompetence meant we stayed behind in O’Hare and eventually gave up on Phoenix and went home. They found our luggage just before Valentine’s day (turns out the bag was sent back to Chicago on the next flight and spent two months at O’Hare), and the United staff FedEx-ed it to our house. Some of the gifts were missing including a Starbuck’s gift set of coffee. They left the box, but took out the coffee!! Who does that?? United employees in Chicago, that’s who!

    • u2acro says:

      @Snakeophelia: You were smart by shipping FedEx. When I was preparing for my wedding a decade ago, I shipped my dress from St. Louis to a small town in Ohio via USPS — IN A GIFT BOX. Yeah, I was not so smart then; at least the dress arrived fine. The marriage didn’t do so hot, though. ;)

    • SabrinaFaire says:

      @Snakeophelia: I was a bridesmaid in San Diego a few years ago and had to fly out there from Chicago. Myself and the maid of honor insisted on shipping them overnight rather than checking them or bunching them up in carryon. And this scenario is exactly what we were afraid of. And we were just bridesmaids!!

      To the OP: I really hope US Airways does something for you. You handled it better than I would. I would have FLIPPED OUT and they’d have to call the police on me. I try to take things in stride but you do not mess with a woman’s wedding dress!!

  6. missdona says:

    I shipped my gown to Vegas in advance. I was just on a flight where the FA found empty overhead space (wayyy in the back) for someone’s gown.

    That being said, this sucks. I would be heartbroken.

  7. I_have_something_to_say says:

    Anything I value I ship UPS or FedEx. In the 19 years I’ve been using UPS, they have lost two packages. We’re talking an average of 4-5 boxes a day here. The airline luggage handlers are typically the scum of the earth (a disproportionate ratio anyway) and are not to be trusted at all with anything of value.

    • OMG!StopItWithNASA!_GitEmSteveDave says:

      @I_have_something_to_say: After reading that, I just picture some guy w/10o’clock shadow, with a cigar in his mouth, wearing the dress and either singing “I Feel Pretty” and/or doing the “Silence of The Lambs” thing.

  8. ned4spd8874 says:

    US Airways should be held responsible #1. While the luggage was in their possession, they should be held accountable for it. That’s a no brainer.

    I don’t know much about wedding dresses, but I would do my very best to find a replacement and charge US Airways for both the missing dress and the new one. I wouldn’t hesitate to take it to court to get the money if it comes to that.

    I know that if I was in a jury and heard something like this, I would be siding with the bride!

    • emis says:

      @AntheaFlynn:
      US Airways should be held responsible #1. While the luggage was in their possession, they should be held accountable for it.

      Here’s the trouble–if the luggage was missing you’d be correct, they should be held accountable.

      But that’s not what happened here. From US Airways perspective the luggage went on the plane, and the luggage came off the plane…

      The allegation here is that somewhere along the chain something was stolen out of the suitcase.

      But there’s no real proof that the garment was stolen, or that it was ever in the suitcase to begin with.

      I believe this lady–I bet it was stolen… and I think it US Airways reviews security footage at the sites where the luggage was processed they’re going to find someone walking out with a dress–but that probably isn’t going to happen because they don’t care, and they don’t care because they know that their liability is extremely limited in cases like this and the costs for an investigation are very high (vs. the potential PR issue or less of customers)

      …and they can’t simply publicly pay out w/o doing an investigation because then you open the door to masses of sleazy people who will start to claim thefts occurred when their luggage was checked.

      It’s a difficult situation cause by scum bags–the scum bags who steal from luggage and the scum bags who claim false thefts from luggage.

    • docrice says:

      @AntheaFlynn: All they have to do is point the finger at the TSA, who points directly back at them, and both call “not it!” Sorry to say, but she is probably SOL. It’s an awful, awful system and has convinced me to road trip it whenever possible (including a 3100 mile each-way trip to visit inlaws last year), and fedex/ups when not possible.

      …and people still actually trust the airlines enough to let their pets to ride in the cargo bay. I don’t trust those jerks with my dirty undies, let alone my dog, or anything of value. Or even things with no value – they stole jewelry out of my wife’s checked bag a few months ago, despite it being sterling silver and having almost no real value. To us, though, a big loss – jewelry she got as a gift, and a necklace given to her by my late grandmother. Airlines and TSA can eat it…

  9. rawsteak says:

    sometimes i see in airports a place where people can get their suitcases wrapped up in 20-something layers of plastic wrap. is that an acceptable solution? if you get your suitcase wrapped and it arrives open with stuff missing, do people have any available repercussions then?

    i think from now on, whenever i have anything valuable, i’m going to take it with me on board. Or ship it, with insurance.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      @rawsteak: Wouldn’t that count as locking the luggage? I thought in order to prevent terrorism all checked baggage had to be unlocked so that they could be “inspected” if the need arises.

      • chgoeditor says:

        @Real Cheese Flavor: You are permitted to lock your luggage. They recommend you use a TSA-approved lock (which the TSA can open & relock) but you can use any lock you wish, though you run the risk that the lock may be cut off.

        The saran wrap/shrink wrap method is pretty common in other countries. Many airports actually have a stand where you can pay to have your bags wrapped.

        I rarely, if ever, check luggage, but when I do, I want to do everything I can to dissuade thieves from breaking into my luggage. That means I use accepted methods of securing my bags that can’t be breached quickly. If a bag looks like it will take longer to get into, a thief is more likely to turn to the easy-to-open bag. That means I use TSA-approved locks on my bag, I use a luggage strap to encircle the entire bag, and I use plastic ties or twist ties to further secure each zipper. Sure, a determined thief could break into my bag, but it would take them a few seconds longer than an unlocked bag. I hope time factor would make a thief look elsewhere.

        On a related/unrelated topic: Wedding insurance should cover the cost of this theft. Your homeowner’s insurance policy might also cover the loss. Although the claim might not be processed immediately, at least you know you’d recoup some of the cost if you were unable to recoup it from the airline.

        • ariven says:

          @chgoeditor:

          Encircling the luggage with a strap is more secure than merely locking it more securely with more than a lock (though not a lot more). If it has a zipper, its extremely easy to get into in a matter of seconds with nothing more complex than a pen.

          This video at youtube shows the technique:

          After seeing this video, I would never ever ever put anything of value or that I could not afford to be without into checked luggage unless it was a hardside case that used clamps and not zippers to seal.

        • emis says:

          @chgoeditor:
          Sure, a determined thief could break into my bag, but it would take them a few seconds longer than an unlocked bag. I hope time factor would make a thief look elsewhere.

          …or it makes them think you’ve got something worth protecting in there.

          Unfortunately the answer is to only check items of limited value that are easily replaceable.

          That said, this is an amazingly shitty thing to have happen… if this was stolen then the thief will hopefully have a swift karma kick to their head.

    • Etoiles says:

      @rawsteak: When something is stolen from a suitcase, the airline blames the TSA and the TSA blames the airline. (Shrink wrap or not.) That’s where the real mess starts to happen.

    • Veeber says:

      @rawsteak: I’ve heard of stories where someone wanted to check a gun in their luggage. If you tell the agent you have a gun in a locked case and you want to check it, security can do a hand search of your bag, you place the gun inside, then you are permitted to place a non-TSA lock on it to secure the gun from theft. Sounds like the best scenario. I hate the idea of having a gun, but no one ever said it has to be a functional one.

      • econobiker says:

        @Veeber: I read that too in relation to some photographer who regularly checked $1000s worth of photo gear. I think the guy used a track and field starter pistol that had no requirements for licensing in any state.

        I would not recommend using even a disabled regular pistol since some states (like NY and NJ) are particularly tight azzed about handguns.

      • Eyebrows McGee (now with double the baby!) says:

        @Veeber: You can apparently use a starter pistol for your checked-luggage gun.

  10. Papercutninja says:

    Who steals wedding gown? There isn’t a resale value on it or anything like that…is there?

    • mocena says:

      @Papercutninja: Heck yeah there is, you could sell it on eBay for several hundred dollars, even altered, especially since it hasn’t been worn.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @mocena: Maybe the OP should check ebay & craigslist for it. Although I’m not sure it would help at all.

        • econobiker says:

          @Shadowman615: There have been busts of airline/other airport employees fencing gear on ebay. Most likely combined with serial numbered equipment though…

        • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

          @Shadowman615: out of curiousity i just looked at the craigslist wedding dress listing for charlotte from today back through may 1st. [with firefox add on that shows thumbnails in the results] and none of the dresses pictured was her dress. but these dresses all could fit the profile of something shady:

          [charlotte.craigslist.org]

          wedding dress – $150 (belmont )
          Date: 2009-05-08, 2:04PM EDT
          gown for sell still has the tags on it and its just darling please call 704-726-3019

          [charlotte.craigslist.org]

          Wedding Dress and Gloves – $300 (Charlotte, NC)
          Date: 2009-05-06, 4:44PM EDT
          Wedding Dress and Gloves to match. [the OP didn't mention gloves but those could have been stolen out of someone else's bag]

          [charlotte.craigslist.org]

          Champayne wedding dress – $600 (Concord)
          Date: 2009-05-06, 1:05PM EDT
          Champayne wedding dres
          Very elegant
          CASH ONLY

          [charlotte.craigslist.org]

          Wedding Dress – $200 (rock hill,sc)
          Date: 2009-05-04, 11:09AM EDT
          never worn size 12 pictures available only by request

          • NYGal81 says:

            @catastrophegirl – manic first time home buyer: Or they could all be dresses that women bought, thinking the wedding would happen, but got called off for some reason? Or people could be quite shrewd and buy store samples (tags on) when they’re going out of business or on the super-discount rack, put them up for sale, and make a profit?

            Wedding dresses are not returnable, refundable, or exchangeable. I’m lucky that I got back together with my boyfriend/fiancee/husband after we broke up, because I already had a dress ordered, and it sat in the guest bedroom of for a couple of years before we actually got married. What would I have done with it if we didn’t get back together? Would I have had the strength to wear it and marry another man? Or would I have sold it (tags on, never worn) to recoup some of the cost?

            • catastrophegirl chooses not to fly says:

              @NYGal81: there were a couple of hundred dresses. those were the only ones that didn’t have loving descriptions of the dress and lots of pictures. i never knew a bride-to-be or pissed off bride-NOT-to-be who didn’t gush over the dress details. [said with the experience that comes with a closet full of ugly bridesmaids dresses]

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @Papercutninja: How about people are just jerks?

    • gigisinatra says:

      @Papercutninja: Not only is there Ebay and Craiglist, but there’s also a huge market out there for preowned wedding dresses on sites like bravobride and oncewed. If I were the OP, I would keep my eyes on those sites too.

  11. tinyhands says:

    USAir will no doubt recite some policy about how their liability is limited to $300 or some ridiculous figure. I particularly love how their corporate policy limits their ability to care.

    • Todd Fernandez says:

      @tinyhands: I am sure thats what they’ll do. However when somebody TOOK THE DRESS OUT and then CLOSED THE SUITCASE…yeah well sorry no. Those policies (which alone are ridiculous) are meant for damaged luggage. This is direct theft by an employee. They are responsible 100%. I smell small claims court!

  12. AstroPig7 says:

    So the garment bag was clearly torn open, yet the agent thought it was a case of forgetfulness. What kind of bloody moron sees evidence like that and thinks that blaming the victim will actually work? If this weren’t US Airways we were discussing, I would suspect that the bureacracy was a cover-up, rather than sheer incompetence.

    • coren says:

      @AstroPig7: I don’t know, it sounds like they were already trying to pass the buck from the second it seemed there was an issue

    • Scrutinizer says:

      @AstroPig7:
      Oh dear me I must have packed the shreaded garment bag instead of the dress. Happens to every one.

      You know that a little compassion and effort goes a long way. Right now we could be reading about how a wedding dress was lost but USAir really tried everyting to help.

      So why are we failing again.

      • KingPsyz says:

        @Scrutinizer:
        or they were the one who stole it…

        • scouts honor says:

          @PSN: kingpsyz: That’s what I was thinking. The luggage got there before hours before she did so it was sitting in that claim office for a while so they had the opportunity. They’re the ones who make the ridiculous claim that she must have forgotten it after seeing the torn bag. They’re the ones who were supposed to have put the claim in but apparently didn’t because no one called or gave her a claim number.

          It’s gotta be the employees at the New Bern baggage office.

          • coren says:

            @scouts honor: Well it could have been that she purposely put in a shredded bag to make a claim – I wouldn’t put it past *some* people. Not saying the OP did, just that it’s probably happened.

    • emis says:

      @AstroPig7: What kind of bloody moron sees evidence like that and thinks that blaming the victim will actually work?

      The jaded kind that spends their days handling all kinds of false claims from scum bags trying to get money from the airline.

      Yes, in THIS case it’s almost certainly not the case…

      They still should be reviewing security tapes though.

    • burnedout says:

      @AstroPig7: That probably means the agent stole it. She’s way too quick with a stupid answer.

  13. Tambar says:

    A few days ago there was a cop who checked a bag containing his gun; of course it was stolen. He called the police where he flew out of and they investigated immediately. A dress isn’t a gun and you’re probably not a cop, but I say that when someone steals from you, call a cop. And keep calling until they take it seriously. My wedding dress wasn’t awesome but I would have cut anyone who tried to take it from me the week before my wedding.

    • Murph1908 says:

      @Tambar:
      I agree. File a police report. If nothing else, maybe it’ll light a fire under the airline.

      • UX4themasses says:

        @Murph1908: The OP absolutely needs to contact the police within the appropriate jurisdiction.

        I was reading an article about what happened at Portland (@ PDX, a serial luggage thief was busted). Does a fitted wedding dress have that much value on the street?

    • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

      @Tambar: The thing with firearms is that they suddenly become a federal issue if one is lost/stolen. Regardless of whether he is a cop or not, the TSA and sometimes ATF instantly get involved and someone gets burned. Badly.

      A good trick I learned to help protect your baggage is to put a flare gun in it. It’s not a real “gun” but has to be treated as such and will get people in trouble if they open your luggage at all without being in your presence.

      • zibby says:

        @FooSchnickens: This flare gun trick sounds foolproof. You keep it loaded, right?

        • FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

          @zibby: No. You can’t have any loaded firearms. Period. Heck, you don’t even need to have any flares/ammunition. Just prove to the talking ticket dispensers that it isn’t loaded and you’ll get the special treatment.

          Keep in mind, though, that this will slow your processing time a bit up front and you’ll probably have to go receive your baggage in person at the oversize office instead of at the carousel, but if you’re willing to wait a bit, it’s worth it. Plus, your stuff may even beat the rest of the baggage to the carousel (that’s happened to me a couple times).

      • Inglix_the_Mad says:

        @FooSchnickens: Too true. My friend is a fed and someone stole his (department issue) weapon. Wrong thing to do. To say the least, hell was brought down on that airport / airline. You better believe they found the weapon, and the thief.

  14. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Reading this story made me want to cry because if this happened to me, I’d be sobbing, I’d be extremely angry, and I’d be readying my lawyer for the battle ahead. But I think I’d just be so upset and sad first. Poor OP. Hope the wedding went nicely even without the perfect dress. As a former bride, I know all too well how much effort goes into finding the one dress that you love so much and makes you all giddy.

  15. geeky_reader says:

    I don’t know this person, and I probably never will.

    But I want to punch whoever took her dress in the face.

    Hopefully US Airways will pay more attention to this woman’s problem and at least make some sort of effort here. Man she was never even told they were taking it seriously.

  16. FooSchnickens - Full of SCAR says:

    This is PRECISELY the reason that all my photo gear goes with me on the plane in my Pelican roller.

    Airlines get away with way too much bullshit; be it retarded baggage policies, retarded baggage checking fees, retarded fees in general or downright brazen inhuman “service.”

    It pains me to see something like this happen, as I’ve experienced the airline theft debacle first-hand, but can’t even imagine the suffering she is going through right now.

    • Russell Miller says:

      @FooSchnickens:

      OK, it sucks and shouldn’t have happened, but *suffering*?

      There are kids in Africa who are suffering. This is just a minor inconvenience.

      • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

        @Russell Miller: Minor inconvenience?! Obviously you’ve never been married, or even around a wedding… You have no idea how much work it is to find a dress, the right dress, and pay for it.. and then have alterations done..

        Sure there are kids in Africa suffering, and even kids in the USA suffering.. but this was NOT a minor anything.

        • floraposte says:

          @Kimaroo: I think Russell was responding to the notion that her current suffering was so incredible as to be unimaginable. I’m figuring that’s essentially a figure of speech myself; the bride seems to have a reasonable sense of perspective, in that she’s legitimately pissed but didn’t let it ruin her wedding.

        • Russell Miller says:

          @Kimaroo:

          Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need a dress to get married, and if the dress is so important that not having it will ruin the wedding, perhaps you’re getting married for the wrong reason.

          It’s slightly more inconvenient, on the large scale of things, than not having a large screen TV. It is a nice thing to have, but it truly is a luxury that you don’t actually *need*.

          I would not use the word “suffering” within a hundred miles of this story, myself. Pissed off? Sure. For legitimate reason? Sure. Suffering? Not even.

          • Framling says:

            @Russell Miller: Things that aren’t important to me shouldn’t be important to anyone!

          • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

            @Russell Miller: It would be different if she made the choice not to have a dress. She was robbed and blaintently so and I’m sure she felt violated. I don’t consider theft to be minor. Sure a bigscreen tv is a luxury but if someone breaks into your home and steals it then it is more than a minor inconvenience.

            • Russell Miller says:

              @Kimaroo:

              I disagree. You don’t need a TV to survive. It sucks and it’s a problem, but it’s still only a minor inconvenience.

              Someone steals your car or your dinner, THAT is a big problem.

              • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

                @Russell Miller: Obviously your definition of “minor inconvenience” is very odd.

                • Russell Miller says:

                  @Kimaroo:

                  Nope. Not odd at all. If you don’t need it to survive, it’s a minor inconvenience.

                  Job, food… you need. Wedding dress, big screen TV… you don’t. Sucks, obviously, but it’s still just a minor inconvenience.

                  I’d suggest you’re the one with the priorities out of whack, but I don’t really care all that much.

                  • Kimaroo - 100% Pure Natural Kitteh says:

                    @Russell Miller: Like I said.. it would be different if she chose not to have a dress.. but some one else chose to STEAL it from her.. taking away her sense of security and violating her personal property. Theft is not minor.

      • katiat325 says:

        @Russell Miller: Dress with alterations cost about $1000…I’d be suffering too if 1k just disappeared. I’d be hurting right now if that happened (then again, I got my dress for my december wedding at macy’s for $30).

  17. Anonymous says:

    I suspect airlines do not have any more or less, exceptionally pleasant or abhorrently dishonest people than any other service industry sector.
    The need to complain, point fingers and affix blame is also quite universal.
    Life is filled with disappointments and events that fail to turn out the way we would like. How we decide to go forward and conduct our lives after an event like this a personal choice.
    …As is happiness.

    • zlionsfan says:

      @GiffordEos: When they have a blog for “accepting everything that life throws at you instead of trying to make things better for people who follow” I’m sure you’ll fit right in.

      But this is kind of the purpose of Consumerist, so you’re probably going to see a lot more posts like this.

      Also, I wouldn’t recommend sharing your philosophy with a bride currently or recently in the same situation as the OP. Personal injury would likely result.

  18. silver-spork says:

    There absolutely is a resale market on Ebay. If I was the OP, I’d be monitoring Ebay for the next few months. Chances are it will show up.

  19. ratsafari says:

    that is horrible and another agonizing part to me seems the person who did a rush job on the alterations would charge an arm and a leg. Do people have no compassion anymore.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @ratsafari: You know that there’s more effort to alterations than just snipping here and sewing there? Because alterations can take a lot of time, people book in advance. I started my alterations two months before my wedding because each round of trying on the dress would probably result in something else being done, which may take another week.

      And if you get a rush job…guess what? Your finely tuned schedule is at risk because now you have an additional client who needs their dress in two days, and any time spent not handling normal business now has to be spent working on this one dress. Rush jobs aren’t cheap because the seamstress (or the tailor) has to cram a week of work into two days, when their schedule was laid out for X amount of clients and X amount of work.

      I’m not trying to blame the OP, far from it. But I understand the reasons why a seamstress or a tailor charges a lot for rush jobs.

      • oneandone says:

        @pecan 3.14159265: I understand it, too. Exactly what I was going to say. Maybe it cost an arm and a leg because the seamstress & her staff worked on it for 24 hours straight, insteaad of the regular schedule she would bill on. Or maybe she did it herself instead of shopping it out to someone junior & cheaper.

  20. pop top says:

    When my husband and I flew to Vegas to get married last year, I made sure that one of our carry-ons was just our wedding stuff (my dress, his shirt, pants and tie, our shoes, etc.), because I was worried that something like this would happen. I’m a big worrier, so it gave me a lot of peace of mind to know that even if NWA had lost all of our clothing, we’d still be able to get married and look great.

  21. Anonymous says:

    What a terrible tale! I hope they see the story and make amends. US Airways should definitely pay your for both of your wedding dresses and, at the very least, give you and your husband free round trip tickets to anywhere in the world. If they don’t, sue those jerks.

    I had a destination wedding in Mexico, and I brought my dress on the plane with me. It was small and light, and I hung it in the front of the plane. I was still paranoid the entire trip that something strange would happen. I couldn’t imagine!

  22. Pixelantes Anonymous says:

    TSA thieves strike again.

  23. nakedscience says:

    This is getting ridiculous. The Airlines don’t care that their employees steal crap left and right. Working in an airport means you basically have free reign to steal expensive crap. Because they won’t do diddly squat about it.

    This shit needs to change.

  24. edwardso says:

    When I flew home for my wedding there was another girl carrying her dress, unfortunately there was no closet on that plane so I put it in the overhead on top of the other bags, it actually worked perfectly, though I’m 5 feet tall :)

  25. Chumas says:

    Start checking ebay and craigslist for your dress.

  26. ztoop says:

    My Wife and I went through quite the hassle of carrying on her wedding dress and my tux last summer. It was worth it to not worry about it, but there are so many complications to do this as well.

    If the TSA needed to open the bag, I would have had to leave somehow so as not to see it. We brought an extra pair of both latex and nitrile gloves so that they wouldn’t use their dirty gloves searching it (it is an ivory dress!). In the end, it was worth it as it went without a hitch (besides our marriage), but it could have been much worse. Wedding dresses are heavy (30 lbs of silk!) and puffy (lots of toile!).

  27. xkevin says:

    When I went to Jamaica, a bride to be was on my flight. The dress NEVER left her sight to the point the flight attendant had to tell her she can’t stand next to the closet the entire flight.

  28. winstonthorne says:

    Who would steal a bespoke garment at all, much less a wedding gown? I don’t blame the OP at all for checking it; it is of no value to anyone except her. On the bright side, it’s memories like this that make great stories for the grandkids; even if she winds up out the money this will still be a hilarious, quirky, and cute tale to tell about her wedding.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @winstonthorne: I don’t think it’ll be cute or quirky, or hilarious. I think it’ll be a memory of how there are conniving, thieving people in the world, and that you must always be vigilant about your surroundings, and while you should try to see the best in people, you must also know that everyone has the capacity for bad deeds.

    • sponica says:

      @winstonthorne: i think wedding gowns can be of value to more than just the bride…i am crossing my fingers that my nana’s wedding gown will fit me when the day comes I need it. To think my great grandfather bought that wedding gown for 300 or 500 dollars in 1963 (not exactly chump change for a working class guy from Red Hook Brooklyn) and my Nana and 2 of my aunts have worn it.

  29. Jay Gonzz says:

    When I read stories like this I am reminded of Krzysztof Kieslowski’s film ‘White’ (1994). The main character’s luggage is stolen at the Warsaw airport and the thieves are obviously expecting something worthy of their efforts but instead, after cracking open the trunk find the main character himself curled up inside. The thieves pulled him out and realizing that he was sill alive, they started to kick and punch him.

    Consumerist should start a ‘database of shame’, a collection of information pertaining to compromised luggage. It needs to be collected and measured before it can be managed, no?

    A lot of these actions are probably done by Airport personnel, not employees of any particular airline. One would expect that the US govt. would be interested in such activities because if an item or two can be removed unauthorized then naturally and item or two could be added…

  30. dbshaw says:

    As others have said: You’ve been robbed, call the police. The police probably won’t be able to help directly but they’ll light a fire under the airline.

  31. BigDogBeav says:

    My Fiancee and I are getting married next year in Jamaica. We are also from PA and luckily we will not be traveling on US Air as Air Jamaica was cheaper and more accommodating.

    Point is, this stands as a great reminder that if you are planning a destination wedding, ship things in advance. Just let the hotel know and they will be more then happy to hold it till your arrival.

  32. redhelix says:

    I’m starting to get really sick of hearing airlines declare limited liability for misplaced or outright stolen luggage. Some victims need to file a class-action lawsuit and try gain some turf for consumers.

  33. Corporate_guy says:

    File a police report for theft. The airline has no interest in busting their own people.

  34. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    Hey folks… don’t the carriers have limited liability built into the carriage contract.

    Do they not get to pay $X per pound for missing luggage, regardless of what was actually stolen?

  35. cmdrsass says:

    “Jenn admits that putting the gown in checked luggage was a mistake”

    I take issue with that. It is not a mistake to expect that you can do something reasonable like leave a garment in your luggage and not have it stolen but some high school dropout working security.

    • pecan 3.14159265 says:

      @cmdrsass: I agree with you…it’s not a mistake to assume that your wedding dress won’t be stolen.

    • picardia says:

      @cmdrsass: I think the only way it’s fair to call it a “mistake” is that checked baggage is so frequently lost or delayed. In terms of expecting theft? Absolutely not. When the airlines’s standards have gotten so low that theft is commonplace, the correct move is not to accept that but to rail against it.

      • Michael Belisle says:

        @picardia: With regard to the “mistake”, it doesn’t really matter if the chance of theft were less likely than loss or damage. All that matters is that the chance of something bad happening is high and, in this case, the consequences are highly undesirable.

        Even so, luggage theft is not uncommon: see for example Exhibit A, B, or C.

  36. Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

    I agree with those who say this is a matter for law enforcement. Police, TSA, whomever has the right jurisdiction. Theft is theft. It’s not magically different because it occurs while in transit. Might affect the legal authority to whom it’s reported, but it’s a crime.

    Sadly, I’m not sure that would have been my first thought, either. Stupid me, I’d be just like the OP, trying to work with the airline to solve the problem. No more. After reading this, I’m adopting a zero tolerance policy for this kind of crap. You steal from me, I report it to the authorities. It’s one thing when you can’t really prove what was there. She could.

  37. lowercase says:

    Some thread recently contained a moment where the TSA yelled at a guy for worrying about his stuff getting stolen, saying there are cameras everywhere in airports now, and a couple of commenters agreed with that point. If that’s the case, shouldn’t there be video somewhere of the dress being lifted?

  38. takes_so_little says:

    Is it possible to file criminal AND civil charges? IANAL, just curious. That would be my first inclination.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Customer service was lacking in this situation, however, us airways should not be held responsible. When you travel with items, you take a risk. Things get lost, stolen, misplaced, (ruined in the case of the Hudson). I don’t know many reasonable people that do not acknowledge this. For special cases like yours, for as disheartening as it is, other arrangements should clearly have been made.

    Basically, you can’t have your cake and eat it too. People are not willing to pay much for plane tickets. It costs thousands and thousands of dollars to operate a plan just a short distance one way! If tickets were more expensive then the airlines could afford to hire more qualified employees that would take the time not to throw luggage around and beat it up. You get what you pay for, and unfortunately, the operating cost of an airline are extremely high, often at no fault of their own.

    • katiat325 says:

      @FairfaxCockroach: you know, if the whole bag was missing, or if the luggage was somewhat damaged, no big deal. But when the luggage is fine, with everything including the dress bag inside, except for the dress that was supposed to be inside, that’s not supposed to be normal nor expected! CS not only lacked, but was non-existent, and should I be in her place, I would have raised hell to the point of having the police escort me out. A $1000 dress, poof, gone, even though the bag is there, ripped, and the hanger is broke. People may pay less for traveling, but in case should they expect THEFT!

  40. sir_pantsalot says:

    With the airlines charging fees for checking bags you might think they would try and crack down on this type of thing. That could lead to more checked bags and more money. I feel that if the airlines really wanted to end this they could easily put an end to it.

  41. oneandone says:

    This is actually an extremely serious security issue and something that bugs me all the time. Why do some airlines consistently let baggage fly without its owner?. This still might have happened if the OP’s bag had flown on her flight, but the fact is that it continued on her original flight when she rebooked, and that’s not a good situation.

    Lots of foreign carriers will not allow flights to take off if all bags do not have a passenger on the flight for them. It has the potential to be a major hazard, and I’ve sat on flights when they delay us at the gate to remove bags for people who haven’t shown up. Not fun & probably terrible for schedules, but I appreciate the concern for safety.

    It makes me furious to think that we’re more interested in making sure everyone throws away their liquids than in taking more sensible precautions.

  42. aen says:

    Should law enforcement get involved?

  43. jc364 says:

    This really needs to be taken to court; something needs to be done about this kind of thing. This is a type of crime that US Airways as well as any airline need to be held accountable for.

    I would try and get as much press involved as possible. Only when enough people get upset about it will any action be taken.

  44. KingPsyz says:

    Forget EECB, go straight to court, find a nice ambulance chasing lawyer/shark to nail them for pain and suffering ie; make them suffer in pain.

  45. ThePrettiestStar says:

    It’s unforunate you learned the hard way… But never, EVER, check something you can’t live without. I always assume there’s a fifty-fifty chance of me never seeing my stuff again when I check luggage. I might be the world’s most negative person, but at least it sets the bar low so I won’t be surprised when my stuff doesn’t show.

  46. Swizzler121 says:

    I don’t see why airlines dont have the checkers fill out a tag including the name of who checked the luggage, that way, a TSA theif is much less likely to act, knowing that they’ll have to sign that tag.

  47. axiomatic says:

    Note how the suitcase went through Pittsburgh Pennsylvania? Isn’t Pennsylvania known to be the biggest theft ring for airline security in the US?

    After a Google search… yes, yes it is. Pennsylvania is where MOST items get stolen from luggage.

    • picardia says:

      @axiomatic: I noticed that too. I almost always travel with carry-ons alone, but I would never check a bag if traveling to/through Pennsylvania. Not to blame the OP, who should not be expected to know that nor to simply accept theft in PA airports as a way of life.

      • axiomatic says:

        @picardia: Oh good grief, I was not trying to blame the original poster. I hate when others do that and I don’t do it myself. I was only trying to point out Pennsylvania as the root of the problem likely.

        I truly feel for this lady. don’t mess with a woman’s wedding… seriously.

    • Alys Brangwin is one smartass pawn says:

      @axiomatic: I’m glad I didn’t know that when I flew into Harrisburg. It was only for a short visit, though, so I had no need to check anything.

  48. Smd75 says:

    I just finished college, but a year and half ago, I flew from Phoenix to Atlanta going home for winter break. I had a job lined up to work at a jewelry store which was going to start 3 days after I got home. In the process of landing and getting to baggage claim, my bag was stolen. Not things from it; the whole bag. It was all the clothes I was going to need for the month at home. There was nothing inside except clothes. I guess some guy thought there might be christmas presents in it. Much to his dismay, there was clothing and a teddy bear. The airline was reluctant to do much about it, but ended up giving us about 60% of the value and the credit card covered the rest luckily.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Airlines don’t care. We were on a flight home from chicago, and stupidly checked our baggage and put our gps in it, only because we aren’t allow to carry wine on the plane, so we packed everything up in the bag and checked it. Surprise, surprise, when we got back to san francisco and try to find the gps, its’ missing. After a couple of week, got a call from TSA, and they said they reviewed the video and saw no evidence of someone taking it out. I want to know, if I can see the darn video! I don’t believe that they reviewed anything!

  50. Anonymous says:

    Lots of people here commenting on what I call the ‘gun trick’: checking a firearm with your luggage in such a way that you are allowed to use a non-TSA lock to secure the whole thing. I use this occasionally, on flights from certain airports, and used to do so all the time. A few points:
    1. Any firearm has to be unloaded, declared at check in, and in a locked, hard-sided carrying case. The check-in clerk will give you a tag to put in the bag and take to the TSA hand-search area.
    2. Most people interpret the hard-sided case requirement to mean a pistol or rifle case only, not a full-sized trunk you can fit all your stuff in.
    3. The TSA doesn’t use that interpretation. The hand check people will happily search a steamer trunk full of laundry, as long as there’s a gun in it and meets all the other requirements. But you have to get past the airline staff first.
    4. Many of the airlines do expect just a pistol or rifle case. Only one actually has that written into their baggage policies, but many have a clause allowing the check-in agent to refuse anything they decide is a threat. USUALLY, if you’re polite, insistent, follow all the rules, and can show that TSA doesn’t mind, they’ll let you through. But their refusal is final. You may need the willingness and the time to get rid of the gun to get on the plane, or to ship it in some other fashion. Gold-chased Regency dueling pistols are a bad idea.
    5. Anything sufficiently gun-like triggers this policy. You don’t have to carry something that might put you at risk of violating a local law. Wal-mart-grade BB guns, sufficiently convincing replicas and toys, even starter pistols for track meets can all be used. Just do your research and find something that’s not illegal to own at the other end of your trip, and is cheap enough to get rid of if the airline refuses to be convinced

  51. Go Pug Yourself says:

    Dear Mr. Fox,

    Another fox in your pack ate all of my chickens. Can you please help me find out who did it?

    Our airlines are scumsuckers. The people in the lost baggage department are one step up from the stuff at the bottom of the Bronx Zoo monkey cage.

    I have not flown US Scareways even one time when they haven’t lost my checked luggage.

  52. b.k. says:

    My question is, where’d they hide the wedding dress? Do they only steal stuff from luggage when it’s the end of their shift and they can make a quick getaway?

    The thought of some baggage handler trying to stuff a wedding dress down their jumpsuit kind of amuses me. It’s not like it’s a digital camera.

    • sponica says:

      @b.k.: yeah…i could barely hold the 2 wedding gowns during one of those crazy running of the brides events i went to last year for a friend….wedding gowns can be HEAVY

  53. Joyce Godsey says:

    i have a stupid question…what would happen if you called he police right then and there and reported a robbery? a 700 dress is a big theft.

    • Cogito Ergo Bibo says:

      @Joyce Godsey: I was wondering exactly that. I’d never call 911, but it seems to me that calling the non-emergency police number should work. Although, are airports considered federal in the same way that a US post office is? Or does the TSA have some sort of jurisdiction over this? Not knowing more, I’d try the non-emergency local police number, explain the issue and see who they say should be turning this into a criminal matter. And I wouldn’t budge until some badge-owning official filed the appropriate paperwork to report a crime. [NOT blaming the OP; I wouldn't have thought to do so either, until now.] The luggage wasn’t lost. It wasn’t damaged. A theft occured. It’s a crime.

  54. Sanveann says:

    To the OP — I am SO sorry! I also had a pre-wedding catastrophe (though mine wasn’t quite as bad — it involved cutting one of my fingers very very badly and having to wear a cast on it on my wedding day and whole honeymoon), and I was just a WRECK.

    I ditto those who suggest you keep an eye on Craigslist and eBay.

  55. Anonymous says:

    I am sorry to hear about your troubles, and hope you get some satisfaction.

    Am I the only one that actually locks my luggage anymore?
    Whenever I have had to fly, If I took anything more than just the basics, anything of value, I would make a list of everything in that bag, along with photos of each thing, and then put a nice big padlock on it.

    Had a few hassles checking in, been asked to open the suitcase a few times and whatnot, But I have never once had anything stolen. Attempted theft, from the looks of some of the scratches on the keyhole of my lock, and the fact that it was moved all the way around the luggage on the zipper, but no success.

  56. phatch says:

    An awful experience to be sure and not at all Jenn’s fault. It had to take longer to get to the airport, go through security, wait for departure, maybe have a layover, and get out of the other airport than it would have taken to drive. My decision threshold used to be that anything over a 5 hour drive might be considered a candidate for an airline ticket; the current state of air travel has my threshold at a 10 hour drive now.

  57. carlogesualdo says:

    I suggest contacting Chris Elliott, the Travel Troubleshooter at Elliott.org. Maybe he can make the airline cough up.

  58. Syntania says:

    I made my own wedding dress. It took me 3 months to make it. I know I would have been heartbroken if someone had stolen it. For most bride-to-be’s, it’s not even the expense or the time put into the dress. It’s like snatching a piece of someone’s dream out from beneath them. Then for the airline to play the “blame the customer, pretend it never happened” card? Shameful! I think an EECB is in order here.

  59. Avrus says:

    I’m not normally a fan of law suits – but really this just screams out law suit.

    Airlines don’t manage their employees or internal theft well, and yet all the security is focused on passengers.

  60. Anonymous says:

    I flew to Florida a few years ago with a friend. We arrived on time and immediately headed to the hotel. When we finally got into the room, we were ready to change into beach wear. He opened is suit case that had been check to find a week’s worth of shorts and no shirts. Someone had stolen every single shirt from his luggage. When we called the airline to file a complaint, they asked us if we had remembered to pack them. I always pack things in outfits, so every ensemble was folder with socks, undies, a pair of shorts or pants, a matching shirt, and or under shirt. The airline did nothing for us and the shirts were never found. We had to make an emergency trip to a local store to buy souvenir t’s to wear that week. Fortunately, we fit right in.

  61. Scott Schnaars says:

    We live in CA, got married in Hawaii. After her final fitting, my wife had her dress mailed to the resort where we were getting hitched. The resort (more trustworthy than the airlines) was happy to hold it for us. Shipping to Hawaii saved us 4% sales tax on the dress, too which more than covered the cost of FedEx.

  62. katiat325 says:

    If you haven’t already, take pictures of the garment bag and the luggage. Save all receipts. If you have a copy of the report you filed with the baggage people, keep a hold of that. Then, call the police either where you landed or where you took off. Also, get a lawyer (hopefully you can find one that will do it cheaper to get more publicity) and sue the airline.

  63. H3ion says:

    Would the OP be able to file a criminal complaint? The value of the dress is beyond the petty larceny standard and she might get some attention from US Air when the gendarmes start poking around.

  64. johnmc says:

    I’ve fallen victim to this one myself but have learned from experience that there are some things you should never pack in a checked bag:
    – Car keys to the car you have parked at the airport you are flying into
    – Medication you will need soon after your flight
    – Wedding/funeral attire (especially wedding dresses)
    – Expensive electronics
    – Irreplaceable items

  65. Anonymous says:

    Hello,

    I am the Customer Advocate for A frequent flyer organization called FFOCUS and I can get your issue to the Director level at US Airways. you may contact me at pineybob@msn.com and we can get a resolution. Might not be able to get you what you want but we can at least you a proper response
    Best regards,
    Bob

  66. maztec says:

    That absolutely sucks. However, a few mistakes were made. The biggest of which the bride admits to herself, so no sense belaboring it.

    Nevertheless -

    1) Made the mistake of assuming you need a bridal dress for a wedding. Some of the best wedding dresses I have seen were not bridal dresses. Lose the fantasy wedding dream, get real, and have a good time. That said, my wife did have a dress made, so I really can’t say much.

    2) Skip US Airways, go straight to TSA and the police, file a theft report immediately. Explain it, find a nice, female TSA employee who is willing to bend someone over her knee to make things right. TSA would have cared more – this is a security and trust breach.

    3) Trying to find a replacement dress. Forget it, find something nice, and don’t worry about getting a fantasy wedding dress.

  67. MissPiss says:

    That pisses me off…

  68. SGAC says:

    Stories like this are the reason why if I’m flying somewhere and I’m staying less than two weeks, I just go with checked luggage. That’s it. Steal a wedding dress – what a shitty thing to do to a bride.

    I was wondering if the OP had a lock on her suitcase when she checked it?

  69. feckingmorons says:

    Just sue them. Airlines are remarkably recalcitrant and I have had to sue them four times. Each time I prevalied, but the first time it was weeks and weeks of phone calls and letters that were pointless.

    They just don’t care. Hold them to their conditions of carriage. Their total liability is limited in that contract to $3300. You can see that contract on their website. Search for Conditions of Carriage.

    Remember to get your $15.00 for the checked bag fee too when you sue.

    They are going to give you some song and dance about how it could be TSA, how it is not their fault. Who freaking cares. You gave them your bag, you were given a claim check, and you made the requisite report of theft. What they do with the bags after they accept responsibility for them is not your concern.

    You shouldn’t have to sue everyone becuase they hire incompetent and disinterested people, but perhaps after a few thousand of these suits they will manage to keep the contents of the bags from being stolen.

    If you live near Pittsburgh they have a standard setting program at the Pittsburgh Media Center (and US Air is quite prominent in Pittsburgh) The Mediation Center of East Carolina is also available. You may wish to contact the Clerk of the Court where you live to ask about court sponsored mediation that is free or very low cost. Something from these programs lets the airline know you are taking things seriously.

  70. whim17 says:

    WestJet (a Canadian airline that runs similar to SouthWest), used to tell a story about a bride who arrived in Vancouver a day or two before her wedding to find that her wedding dress had become lost baggage. Since the airline wouldn’t be able to return it to her in time for the wedding, the customer service agent at the airport, without stopping to reconsider, grabbed a company credit card and took the bride shopping for a new dress. WestJet executives were extremely PROUD of this employee’s initiative. While they couldn’t make the situation 100% right by getting the bride her dress, the employee did the next best thing, buy her a new one.

    THIS. It’s what US Airways could have done and would probably have made it on the Consumerist as an Above and Beyond story. Instead, it’s just one more reason to seek out alternatives.

  71. viclewis says:

    wow, you’re a better person than i am, that is totally FUCKED, and i would have flipped my shit right then and there at the service desk.

  72. justsomeotherguy says:

    Um, why would anyone trust any airline with anything important ever? seriously, fedex your belongings and insure them. These people cannot be trusted.

  73. tworld says:

    U.S. Airways are pigs. Especially by trying to turn it around on Jenn by asking if she was sure she packed the dress. Absolutely disgusting. I hope when U.S. Airways goes out of business someone asks them, “Are you sure you HAD a business?”

  74. mickey72 says:

    You should ship it in a hard case with a starter pistol in it. Read here for more details – [www.schneier.com]

  75. stlbud says:

    Why didn’t they call the police? The gown was clearly stolen. The wreckage of the garment bag should have been enough evidence that something was wrong.

    At this point, small claims seems to be the only recourse.

  76. Anonymous says:

    why can’t airlines keep the baggage handlers under survaliance via video camera? Nobody’s stealing stuff while the bags are on the runway or while on the little zippy trucks. Once they go behind doors there should be wall-to-wall video taping to catch whoever’s doing it. Or am I woefully naive?

  77. notanignoramus says:

    I’d report this to the Transportation Security Administration as well. They may deny responsibility, but they are supposed to ensure the security of all luggage in terms of making sure nothing dangerous is INSIDE… and obviously, even if nothing was switched for your wedding dress, someone was INSIDE your luggage without your knowledge or consent.

  78. Bs Baldwin says:

    Seems like Obama should fix the mistake back by carter and re-regulate the airline industry.

  79. parabola101 says:

    US Airways is getting has become more & more hostile to their clients/customers. This is a horrible story that will probably not have a happy ending if US Airways has anything to say about it. Is it me or have companies become calloused, greedy, and just generally rotten towards their customers?