Delta Misplaces My Backpack Of Essentials, Shrugs

Seann got on a Delta plane with only a carry-on, and was told that he would need to gate-check his bag. That was the last time he ever saw it. The tag he was supposed to receive never materialized, and neither did his backpack. This would be tolerable if he had just been toting a carry-on full of clothes, but the gate-checked bag happened to be his backpack, stuffed with his laptop, video camera, and other valuable items filled with tasty data.

Sure, he’s entitled to compensation, but to make that happen, he needs to sort out what was on the bag and file a claim.

Delta lost my luggage…Here’s what happened: Went on plane with carry on…compartments were smaller than usual and it wouldn’t fit. Flight attendant said they would check it and send it to Portland. Told me to have a seat and she would bring me my luggage tag. I NEVER SAW HER AGAIN. Asked another attendant midflight about my luggage tag, she went to talk to another attendent…they both looked confused and I saw them shruging their shoulders, came back and said, “everything went straight through, so just look for it in Portland”

I haven’t seen my backpack since…don’t know if I ever will. Bye bye laptop, bye bye harddrive, bye bye camcorder, bye bye other things. Someone please scream at the flight crew on DL [redacted] for being the most NEGLIGENT imbeciles Delta has ever hired. Think twice about doing your job correctly. You may be screwing over someone who needs your job more than you.

If anyone knows where I can directly reach the people who lost my luggage, that would be great, because Delta’s 1-800 number and claims system seems mostly useless. (who keeps receipts for things they bought over three years ago that are long past their warranty?…seriously…and if I have them, they are well buried) I’d rather just sue them directly if I’m never going to see my things again.”

As for updates since then…I have continued calling them daiy. I’ve made an effort to contact the invidual luggage people at each airport. I called several peopole to get their numbers (the first represntative said, “they don’t deal with the public”, which is a lie since I got the numbers from another representative and I made contact with Minneapolis and Dalls. I’ve left 3 messages for Newark, 1 for PDX and no one has responded yet. It appears there are some obvious holes in Delta’s customer service policies. Hopefully someone out there can help me!

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  1. RxDude says:

    You get a gate check tag BEFORE handing over your property, as I’m sure the OP now knows. That backpack never made it to the cargo hold. Sorry, Seann, but you’ve been robbed.

    • Snowblind says:

      Further: why would you need to check it? it would go under the seat, not overhead.

      • Gman says:

        It may be closer to a camping backpack that is too large to fit under the seat. Especially if they had camcorder, laptop, clothes, etc. in the bag.

      • Mr_Magoo says:

        If they tell you that you have to check it, you don’t have a choice. There may not be a real need for it to be checked, but that doesn’t matter.

      • selianth says:

        If it wouldn’t fit in the overhead compartments, it almost certainly wouldn’t fit under the seat. Do you really think he didn’t try that?

        • bluline says:

          Not true at all. I carry a camera bag with about $3,500 worth of gear in it. Sometimes, if I board late, it won’t fit in the overhead, but it definitely will fit under the seat in front of me. No way am I going to hand that bag over to the airline thieves. Gate-check receipt or not, that equipment almost certainly is going to disappear and the airline will shrug its shoulders over it.

        • YouDidWhatNow? says:

          Actually, the area under the seat in front of you is frequently larger than the overhead compartment.

          • limbodog says:

            As someone who is 6′ tall with size 14 shoes, this comment makes me sad. My knees are killing me at the end of a flight due to inability to straighten my legs at all. If I were to stuff anything under the seat in front of me besides my own feet, I’d need to amputate below the quadriceps.

            • rambo76098 says:

              Disagree. I’m 6’6″ with size 16 shoes and put my backpack in the underseat storage every time. Even on those stupid ERJs that I basically have to crawl into because the cabin height is so short.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          Nope. My Targus pack I got at Walmart fits under the seat or in the compartment on even the stupid United Express baby planes. I absolutely will NOT check my laptop under any circumstances.

          Sorry, OP. The bitch made off with your stuff.

    • Lyn Torden says:

      That seems to be very likely.

      Airlines will now need to be sure there is a distinct area for last-minute baggage check AND be sure all uniformed people in that area are REAL employees actually assigned to that duty.

    • evilpete says:

      That’s what i suspected.

    • Oh_No84 says:

      They dont always give a you a tag before taking it when you are already seated
      I see this all the time. They take your bag to the front of the plane, put on a tag, tear off the claim part, and then walk back to you to give you the claim part.

      The OP should have put it under the seat. I would never check in my backpack no matter what as like the OP I would have my most important things in there like my laptop.
      I cant believe he gated checked a backpack with a laptop in it. It easily could get damaged as I doubt it was packed properly for checking in.

  2. Lyn Torden says:

    This will teach you to insist on getting the luggage tag AS you are handing the luggage over to the person taking it. That’s exactly how I saw it going down on my USAir flight a couple weeks ago. It (too) was a puddle jumper that had limited space.

    My bag fit under the seat.

  3. eturowski says:

    Don’t let valuables leave your possession on a plane. Period. If you have a laptop and a camcorder, they have no business leaving the cabin if you would ever like to see them again. Take them out and put them under the seat in front of you, if needed.

    • Real Cheese Flavor says:

      Don’t forget that you’re allowed a carry-on bag _AND_ a “personal item.”

      I put all my clothes and toiletries in my carry-on bag and my laptop, meds, etc go in a messenger/laptop bag. I’ve frequently had to gate-check the carry-on but have never, ever had to gate-check them both.

    • nodaybuttoday says:

      Agreed. I would NEVER hand my laptop over like that. I would take the laptop and camcorder out, even if there was no bag and THEN hand over the bag.

  4. PragmaticGuy says:

    Once had to gate check my carry on with Delta. Got the luggage tag right then and there. The baggage handler that got your bag “handled” it right to his car or split it up with his buddies. I’m surprised Delta is even taking your claim as you have no proof that you even checked a bag. I wish you good luck, you’re going to need it.

  5. redskull says:

    Sorry the OP lost all his stuff, but… why would you ever hand over your laptop, camera and other valuable items?

    Nobody takes my backpack, for any reason ever. I’ll somehow stuff it under my shirt or down my pants if I have to.

    • rgf207 says:

      Not sure if you fly often but that won’t work. You can refuse but you won’t be on that flight anymore

      • Waltersinister3 says:

        That’s not necessarily true. I recently had them try to get me to check my overhead bag, I said “I’m not checking this” and they didn’t push the issue.

        • Kate Blue says:

          I’ve had them tell me then I won’t be able to make my flight and the rest of my luggage is already aboard.

          • nodaybuttoday says:

            If it doesn’t fit, it doesn’t fit. Not sure if it didn’t fit because there were other bags in the overhead already or because the bag was just too big.

  6. Portlandia says:

    Seriously you handed over your bag with a laptop and “valuables” without getting a tag for it immediately? Wait, now let me step back, you handed over a bag with a laptop. You’re and idiot.

    The “negligent imbecile” is the person who didn’t tell the flight crew your bag had a laptop and camera which can’t be put in the cargo.

    Your stuff is gone and you will never see it again.

  7. bluline says:

    “This would be tolerable if he had just been toting a carry-on full of clothes…”

    Why is this tolerable? It’s theft any way you look at it. Just because some items are less valuable than others doesn’t lessen the crime or relieve the hassle involved.

  8. SharkD says:

    Cameras, laptops, valuables, etc. never ever leave my possession when traveling. I always, always ensure that the bag fits under the seat in front of me, whether it’s a fully-loaded messenger bag, or one of my J-2 camera bags (which will hold two DSLRs, a bunch of glass, a laptop and a camcorder).

  9. evilpete says:

    Call the airport and request security footage, they are required my law to share it.

    With it you can prove you had a bag when boarding, and maybe I’d the employee that took it.

    • bluline says:

      You and I both know that any security footage of this incident will have mysteriously (and quite conveniently for the airline) been “lost” or “accidentally” erased.

  10. Saskiatas says:

    Never gate check a laptop or other valuable electronics. I’ve got a picture of my coworker’s laptop bent at a 45-degree angle after the bag was caught in the conveyer belt. If I must gate check my bag, I’ll remove my laptop and balance it on my feet under the seat in front of me. If I’m in bulkhead and there is no overhead space where it would be secure, I would politely refuse until the airline agent finds an alternative safe location for the laptop, but so far this has never occured.

    I’m also a bit confused on the itinerary of the OP. If he was flying to more than one airport (such as Newark to Minneapolis to Portland), and gate checked a bag in Newark, typically you pick up the bag when you deplane in Minneapolis and take it with you. You do not assume (and the Delta agent #2 should not have told him) that it will automatically be routed to Portland. My guess is the bag was left sitting wherever he deplaned, a few hours later the baggage handlers noticed it sitting without a tag, and happily took it away for ‘safekeeping’.

    • floraposte says:

      Yes, that’s what I thought happened as well. Gate check has never been checked through, in my experience–after disembarking, you wait at the bottom of the jetway or at the plane at the other end for the gatechecked stuff to come off.

      And as a veteran of small planes, I always have a sub-bag for valuables that can fit under the seat when the regular carryon gets gate checked. You can’t count on even having overhead space in some planes, let alone having big enough overhead space.

      • eturowski says:

        Gate checking can sometimes involve the bag being checked through to your final destination. In my experience (flying Delta), gate checking on a regional jet usually means that the bag is dropped at the bottom of the jetway, while gate checking on a full-sized plane means that the bag is checked through and you pick it up at baggage claim.

        • HogwartsProfessor says:

          I almost always have to gate-check on the first leg out, or the last leg back, since my airport is small and usually the flight out is on the little tiny planes. I’ve never had them check it all the way through. I usually have to wait to get my bag where I make my connection, then lug it to my gate and stuff it overhead to my final destination.

          I totally would check more often if I didn’t have to pay for it. It’s a hassle to drag the thing around.

  11. Coleoptera Girl says:

    This surprises me… I’ve never seen a backpack be gate checked and was under the impression that they would force people with roll-aboard bags to gate check those to make space.

    Well, maybe it doesn’t surprise me. This is definitely a case of theft, not just of having the bag misplaced.

  12. bben says:

    Never let them take your electronics – I did once – an American Eagle Jetstream – 15 passenger (I think) small plane, there wasn’t room, we boarded outside from a stair. I was told my small carry on bag would not fit and I watched them place it in the cargo compartment. On arrival, I actually got my bag back – everything in the cargo was soaking wet. They claim a air conditioner failure caused it – My claim was refused because they say I should have removed my laptop and taken it into the cabin with me. However, if you refuse to part with your stuff, they call security and have you hauled off for not doing what you are told.

  13. SeattleSeven says:

    Never check anything valuable! Ever! Under any circumstances! No matter what they tell you!
    Tell them it is medical supplies, tell them your employer doesn’t allow sensitive data out of sight, etc.
    Offer to let them rebook you on another flight if needed, they never take you up on that offer and then they find room for your stuff.

    Even if you had gotten a tag, you would’ve spent the flight reading the fine print on the back telling you all about how they claim no responsibility for valuables and electronics that are broken or go missing.

  14. Aliciaz777 says:

    I’ve only flown 3 times and even *I* know you don’t check ANYTHING with valuables in it. I had to gate check my carry-on while returning home and I stopped right there while on the walkway and took my stuff out (iPhone, camera, and a few other things I couldn’t afford to lose). I try really hard not to blame the OP’s on this site, but come on, checking a bag with that stuff was a massive brain fart. Sorry, but you’re not getting anything back. It’s probably already in the home of the airline or airport employees who stole it or on the home of the people who bought it from the thieves.

    Maybe if the airline employees told people BEFORE they’re in the walkway that their carry-ons have to be checked, things like this wouldn’t happen as much. If you have the time, you’re more likely to take out your valuables and find a place for them before boarding. But when you’re told right on the walkway, with antsy people waiting in line behind you, a lot of people would just hand their bag over because they don’t want to hold others up while they take out their things. Me? I don’t care. My stuff is more important than others getting on the plane a minute faster. I’m sure the airlines know when carry-ons will have to be checked way before people get on the walkway.

    • HogwartsProfessor says:

      They usually do tell you beforehand. The gate agent goes around with a little stack of tags on elastic bands and puts them on your luggage handle. This bitch stole it, pure and simple.

      *stabby stab stab stab*

    • Kate Blue says:

      Sometimes you get put on a plane with little or no carryon stowage – I’ve had that happen to me. What I could stow before, I no longer could AND IT WAS NOT AN OPTION – PERIOD. Give it to the person or take a hike. No flight for you and your checked luggage will go byebye

  15. nicoleintrovert says:

    Huh…. a friend of mine also going to PDX had her bag gate checked. It was full of her original graphic novel she was traveling to Portland specifically to sell. Her bag disappeared as well. THANKFULLY it was found and returned to her the following day and she did have one day at the event where she had her items to sell.

    Not sure of the airline. But I wonder if this is a PDX thing.

  16. hoi-polloi says:

    As someone else mentioned, this is exactly why I started carrying a smaller bag in my carry-on. A plastic grocery bag or reusable mesh bag ball up really small and weigh next to nothing. If they want me to gate-check my bag, I can easily sort out all of my electronics, valuables, and snacks and put them under the seat.

    When I traveled with my wife and son a few years back, I was told we had to gate-check the largest bag. I shamelessly shuffled valuables between bags on the jetway. Even without malice, there’s too much potential for damage or loss.

  17. ScandalMgr says:

    Advice to OP:

    Start surfing Craigslist.org and eBay.com (by model number?) for your stuff at all the cities which it could have disappeared, as that is what enterprising thieves do now days.

  18. 44 in a Row says:

    How does he intend to “just sue them directly” if he has no way of proving what the contents of the bag were worth? It indeed sucks that this happened (and I agree with the commenters who said he probably got robbed, as opposed to his bag actually being lost), but he’s going to need to figure out what everything’s worth no matter what. Go through your credit card receipts, your checkbook, etc.; if you really have no record at all of what you paid for things, then you’re probably SOL no matter what.

  19. Tyanna says:

    Was the bag so big that it wouldn’t fit under the seat in front of him. Yes, he’s out some leg room but he would still have his laptop and other electronics. My bag with my laptop, camera, passport and money always go under the seat in front of me. Don’t want some going through my stuff while I’m sleeping.

  20. staciey says:

    Perhaps he was seated in an emergency exit aisle or a bulkhead seat where they’re usually a bit stricter about what you can stash on the floor in front of you? Despite the fact that I’m a whopping 5 foot 1 and had two empty seats next to me on a mostly-deserted flight, I once had an attendant insist my messenger bag had to go in the overhead bin during takeoff and landing and could not sit in my lap, the seat next to me or go on the floor up against the bulkhead.

    I was a tiny bit bemused by that last bit, since I couldn’t figure out how the physics of my bag being stashed against the bulkhead that went from floor to ceiling with ample* room left in the aisle was any more of a safety risk than it being stashed under the seat in front of me with ample* room left in the aisle. It couldn’t have gone flying forward unless it had actually penetrated the bulkhead, in which case I think we’re all dead anyway. I was seated at the window and had my bag sitting directly in front of me, so it would have taken one heck of a jolt to send it out into the main aisle, and I wasn’t in front of an exit door.

    She was polite and stashed it for me, and even retrieved it without me asking once we leveled off and we chatted a bit.

    *For a given airplane value of “ample”, meaning I could barely reach said bag when it was in front of me when wearing my safety belt.

    In that case, your best bet might be asking nicely if you could at least remove your electronics and find room for them up in the overhead bin or possibly even get it tucked into one of the cabinets/carts in the galley, but I guess there would be no guarantees. Couldn’t hurt to ask.

    In the interest of saying something useful that might help the OP and doesn’t require a TARDIS, maybe give the DeltaAssist Twitter account a shot? https://twitter.com/DeltaAssist

    • Putaro says:

      Airplanes can also move vertically and it’s not uncommon for some turbulence to give the plane a nice drop, in which case anything unsecured will go flying up and then back down with a good chance of it landing on someone’s head.

  21. sixsnowflakes says:

    I’ve found Delta to be pretty good about settling such claims if you can in contact with the right person. It’s important to send an itemized list with as many receipts as possible to document your claim. If you can’t get Delta to help you, you can file a claim online with the FAA (http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/CP_AirlineService.htm). Filing a claim with the FAA usually gets you a pretty quick response from an airline representative.