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)