Consumers Speak: Delta Loses Bag

And customer loses mind. Michelle K. writes:

My bags were lost when I flew from Moscow, Russia to the states on Nov 9, 2005. I picked up my luggage in JFK, went through customs and checked them in for my flight to PIT. They never came. In those bags I had all my clothes and all of my 2 children’s clothes including, socks, shoes, underwear, bras, t shirts, tops, pants, skirts, tights, and so on. I also lost our camcorder, our camera, 2 brand new coats (one leather, one fur trimmed), a Coach handbag, Christmas gifts for my family and friends and irreplaceable family videos.

I was instructed to fill out a claim for my lost items so that I could be compensated. I had to list all the items in my luggage and state how much I paid for them and when they were purchased. It came to over $7,000. I was also told that I am entitled to $25 per person for the first 5 days w/o bags for “out-of-pocket expenses”, and the maximum payout for a claim is $2,500/bag.

Well that’s a bit of interesting trivia to keep in mind when next you’re packing for a flight.

Read Michelle’s whole experience—and it’s rough—after the jump. We’re going to spoil it a little and tell you that Delta loses the second set of luggage.

I was then told to drive to the PIT airport to fill out a form and pick up a check for our out-of-pocket expenses. So, I drove 1.5 hrs paid for tolls and airport parking only to be told that they no longer issue checks at the airport. But, I was told that they can fill in the form for me. Unfortunately, the Delta employee used the wrong template when filling out the form, so my request was delayed on formalities.

I went ahead and got new clothes for 3 people, re-bought all my Christmas gifts, bought new cameras and new luggage. I spent several thousands of dollars. I was assured by Delta that I would soon be compensated for my loss.

A week before I was scheduled to fly back to Moscow, I received a call from Delta saying that they just now were looking at my claim, but they couldn’t read it because the fax quality was poor. This is 2 months and 1 week after my bags were lost and this was the first time anyone had even looked at my claim. I was told that they would then expedite my claim and that since so much luggage was lost, and that a good portion of the lost items were for children, that they would try to get me some extra money. I was also told that she would try to find luggage for me to use since I still had not received any money and had no luggage. I never heard back on either of those issues.

I flew back to Moscow on Jan 15, 2005 without a single cent paid by Delta, with my new luggage full of my new stuff. I arrive in Moscow, but my luggage did not. Out of 4 bags, none of them made it to Moscow. I was furious. I called the baggage center in Atlanta and spoke w/ the baggage coordinator on duty, Michael Wood. Here is part of our conversation:

Me: You aren’t doing anything to actually help me. May I please be
transferred to someone else?
BC: No.
Me: Please transfer me to your supervisor.
BC: No.
Me: I would like to speak to your supervisor.
BC: There is no one above me.
Me: What do you mean there is no one above you? Are you the CEO of Delta?
BC: There is no one above me.
Me: Please transfer me to customer service.
BC: No
Me: Excuse me?
BC: No. It’s a little word. You should already know it.
Me: Are they recording this call?
BC: I don’t care if they are.

I was left in total shock. They lost my luggage twice. Out of 7 total checked bags, one made it home with me from the airport. And no one cared. Since then, 2 bags came 30 hrs delayed and 2 came 50 hrs delayed.

I got my out-of-pocket expenses check nearly 3 months after my bags were lost. And to top it all off, I was just informed that my claim for my original lost bags has been approved for $900. Why for $900 when my claim was made for over $7,000? My letter states that it is because since I was traveling internationally, I can be reimbursed based on the weight of my lost luggage. Amazingly, I was told over and over by Delta employees that this would not be the case since I collected my bags in JFK, went through customs (thus ending my international journey and beginning my domestic), and got on a domestic only carrier, Delta Connection Carrier, Comair. During the 20+ conversations that I had with Delta employees I was continually told that I would be reimbursed based on the value of my items. In fact, I was told in this incredible short, uncaring letter from Customer Care that I would be reimbursed for the contents of my luggage:

“Thank you for contacting Delta AirLines regarding your missing luggage.

Our records show your claim form was received in our office on November 14. The standard processing time is 12 weeks from ths date. We do not pay for interim expenses when lugggae is missing. The final settlement is made for the contents of the missing luggage not replacement items purchased. If the bags are located and returned, then out-of-pocket costs will be considered.

You will be contacted when your claim is processed.

Please accept my apology for the poor impression received.


Toddi Ford Claims Manager Customer Care”

I have never felt so undervalued by a company in my entire life. I feel that my case was continually mishandled and the customer service I received was unacceptable. However, I can not call Delta to discuss this as “Customer Care” does not accept calls from Delta customers.


Edit Your Comment

  1. airship says:

    Which is why I carry on a big duffel bag and a smaller bag, and never, ever check luggage. The big bag has a week’s worth of underwear, socks, and shirts, and a couple pair of pants. The small bag has my medicine and one change of clothing. That’s it. If I need more, I do laundry. If I buy stuff, I pay to have it shipped back. Now, I’m a huge guy, and my clothes are big and heavy. If I can do it, anyone can. Even you little people – luggage comes with WHEELS now, gang. You don’t have to carry it.

  2. Papercutninja says:

    Well certainly carry-on luggage is fine for domestic flights, but international is another issue. There’s no way i’d be able to use a carry-on for luggage if i was going overseas.

  3. CatMoran says:

    Don’t trust your luggage to any airline — but especially Delta.

    Several years ago, a friend of mine flew Delta & their code-share partner to the far east. Returning home he picked up his luggage at LAX and rechecked it for the domestic flight to the east coast.

    He gets home, his luggage doesn’t. Two days later Delta calls and says they’ve found his luggage — and would he like the remains in addition to the per-pound compensation?

    It seems his luggage ended up in Germany. And near as we can determine, the Germans have a habit of pre-emptively blowing up unaccompanied luggage.

  4. Kishi says:

    I work for a hotel and all of the “the airline lost my luggage, where’s the nearest store I can buy clothes, a razor, toothbrush, etc.” stories I’ve heard have been about Delta. Of about a half dozen incidents, only once (to my knowledge) has Delta actually gotten the luggage to the guest by the time they’ve left.

  5. Mechalith says:

    The utter lack of any kind of customer service on this issue is apalling…

    but I can’t help but laugh at the German’s detonating your friend’s luggage CatMoran. I’m sure it wasn’t funny at the time, but I can just see the guy who has the ‘blowing up the luggage’ duties gleefully waiting around for his next victim. You have to admit, it’d be a fun job. =P

  6. RowdyRoddyPiper says:

    I feel for the writer. Especially traveling with kids, it’s hard to get everything carried on. I have a very simple rule of not checking anything that I want to hang on to. I’m surprised that Delta would even offer to pay replacement cost initially. The trick on the international flight is a good one, though I think it is perfectly legal. Not really the spirit but the letter of the law. I’m linking to a very good article on lost baggage which explains this better than I can.

  7. billhelm says:

    I never check things like video cameras, cameras or anything else individually valued at more than 50-100 bucks in luggage. There’s just too many risks especially now that we can’t lock our bags with the TSA requirements in place (not that it stopped anybody before). Not only can the airline lose the luggage, but there’s a lot of risk of someone pilfering these items out of the luggage.

  8. LLH says:

    you know with all the technology (read: upc numbers attatched to the bag handle in that paper that you need to saw off) they airlines have and the “rules/laws” the government will have you think they impose, there should be NO REASON bags could “lost”. the security risk alone is the main reason. think about it…they’ll disembark a plane if there is baggage on and no passenger in the drop of a hat, but when luggage gets “lost” and stuck on a different flight no one is the wiser. i see a huge problem with that.

  9. L_Emmerdeur says:

    They actually sell “lost luggage” at some sort of warehouse down in Atlanta. Considering the size of the place they use to sell this stuff, I’d say this is part of their business model – lose a percentage of all luggage, sell it, rip off the customer on the reimbursement.

    That’s why I avoid using US air carriers at all costs, and NEVER fly international with them. I can’t wait until they all finally go so bankrupt even the feds can’t save them.

  10. ritty says:

    I’ve only booked a ticket on Delta once. Well, actually, PriceLine chose them for me. I now avoid PriceLine for fear of being put on Delta. This is not a luggage story though. My experience was that I went to check in to my flight. The kiosk stated there was a problem with my itinerary. There were no other instructions. I finally found a customer service area for Delta. I waited in line about 30 minutes to speak with someone. I spoke with the person on duty who told me I had to go to this other area. I go to this other area where there was quite a big line. I stood in line for an hour without moving (seriously). After about two hours, I finally got to speak with someone, who told me I needed to go talk with the person I originally talked to. Fortunately, this second time around talking to this person, she called someone from customer service, probably at Atlanta HQ, and had them talk to me. We finally worked it out by putting me on American.

    I won’t fly Delta again. I also won’t fly ATA for their luggage snafu.

  11. IRSistherootofallevil says:


    Seriously, sue Delta’s ass….since you bought $thousands of stuff you’re probably entitled to more than $12,000 in compensation. Yeah I can’t wait until Virgin America flies and um United, Delta and American all go out of business.