AA Loses Luggage, Turns Dream 60th Birthday Rome Vacation Into Nightmare

Donna was all set to fly to Rome for a beautiful two-week 60th birthday trip with her friends. They had been planning and preparing for it for a year. It was to be the trip of a lifetime. Then they flew American Airlines.

Their luggage never made the trip with them, forcing them to waste precious holiday time arguing with customer service and running around trying to get clothes and supplies. Here’s Donna’s letter she wrote to the CEO of American Airlines:

June 9, 2011
Travel Dates: Departure May 14, 2011 Return May 28, 2011

Attached is a summary of the purchases that I made while traveling for two weeks in Italy with no luggage. I expect to be not only compensated for the items that I had to purchase but also compensation for the two weeks of constant inconveniences, stress, pain and overall disappointment for a trip to celebrate my 60th birthday that was in the planning for a year.

* I am requesting to be reimbursed $1,748.48 for purchases (original receipts and credit card statement attached)

* A refund for the cost of my ticket – $1,192.20

* Frequent flyer points equal to one round trip international flight (I do not want a travel voucher as the time that I took for this trip was without pay and I can not afford to do that again for at least another year)

My friends and I started working on this trip to Italy a year prior to our departure. I prepared for this trip for months taking time to buy shoes ahead of time so they would be broken in, purchasing travel products (hair product, body products, etc.), small tote bags to carry shopping items, outfits to wear for day and evening, new underwear, new PJ’s, a special outfit to wear to the Opera in Rome. I carefully packed my bag and off to the airport on May 14, 2011 for a life long dream trip to Italy. I was so excited to be celebrating my 60th birthday in Italy with two friends!

5/14 We arrive at DFW more than 2 hours before our trip to Chicago where we will connect to our flight to Rome. We checked our bags and went through security. As we turned toward our gate, the only telephone that we had with us received a message that the flight was delayed, so much so, we would miss our connection to Rome. We immediately returned to the ticket counter where we were booked on earlier flights. We were each with a different agent and we all made it very clear that we were traveling together. (Here is where the nightmare began) I was booked to leave on a different flight than my friends. We all three asked about our luggage and were reassured by the agents that the bags would be in Rome when we got there.

I arrive in Chicago and don’t know if my friends will make the connection. The agents at check-in were no help at all. One of the agents even said, “If they make the flight and their luggage is not on the plane, they will not be allowed to board the flight”. I did not know if I should get on the flight or stay in Chicago until I saw my friends. I had to borrow a telephone from someone so I could call American to see what my options were. They made the flight just in time and off to Rome we go.

5/15 We arrive in Rome and, no bags. No American Airlines agents to assist. We stand in a line for over an hour to complete a report with AirItalia. We were handed a copy of what we thought was our report and later looked at it and realized it was someone else’s information.

We get to our hotel and spent more time calling the US to talk with American Airlines customer service in English. Again we provide information for another report. (We are using the only telephone that we have and it is costing $1 a minute). The agent was very nice and empathetic. She provided a $150 each allowance for purchasing items that we need immediately.

We go out to see if we can locate any stores near our hotel that are open on a Sunday. We see a T-shirt shop and each purchase a T-shirt that we can sleep in. There was nothing else available.

5/16 We travel to Positano, a resort town where we shopped for hours trying to locate clothes that would fit. We hear nothing about our luggage.

5/18 (day 4) We travel to Florence with the few items that we picked-up with hopes our luggage would meet us at the hotel and that we will not need to shop anymore for clothes.

No luggage at the hotel

Again, we have to take more of our vacation time to place another telephone call to AA hoping to hear some good news about our luggage. Instead we talked with a very rude customer service manage. (I have 20+ years of customer service, even monitoring customer service calls, and training customer service reps) She was condescending and less than empathetic to our situation. She told use that 2 of the bags went to Florida and the 3rd could not be located. She increased our shopping allowance to a total of $500. That is 338 euro and that will get you nothing!

We asked her if she would follow-up to let us know what she finds regarding our luggage.

She said, “No, we don’t make international calls.” It would be up to us to take more of our vacation time and pay more cell phone charges to follow-up. Her answer was unbelievable – an international company doesn’t make international calls! We proceeded to tell her that the call would not be international but local for her as the cell phone that we had has a Dallas, Texas telephone number. She still insisted that she would not be able to follow-up. We were also told that we had 30 days from the date that we filed the claim to complete our request for reimbursement. I asked for an extension since we would not be ON VACATION until May 28. Skye said, “NO, THAT IS POLICY.” She needs to go back for training and not be a manager.

5/19 (day 5 – in the same shoes) We take a day trip to Venice and when we return the hotel had received a telephone call that our luggage is going to be delivered the next day.

5/20 (day 6) I was going to shop for shoes so I would have appropriate footwear for our walking tour that was scheduled and prepaid for the next day. I decided that I didn’t need to since I would have my luggage by the end of the day. I would have my walking shoes and my orthotics.

5/21 (day 7 Still no luggage) In the only pair of shoes that I had, I headed off for a 6 hour walking tour. By the end of the tour I could hardly walk. I had blisters so bad that my toes were black. At this point I had to find something that I could wear. It was difficult to find any shoes that I could even try on. I had to go to a drug store and buy stuff to take care of my blisters. At this point my dream vacation was very much a nightmare.

I try one more time to contact AA regarding our luggage. I was told that it has been longer than 5 days so I will need to contact Central Baggage. I was transferred there only to get a recording telling me that their hours are Monday – Friday only. Today is Saturday. I lost it!

My trip was half over and each day was worse than the day before. I did hand washing of clothes every night and had the hotel wash the few items that could be laundered. Make-up, skin care and body products were difficult to locate as I have allergies to many products and can develop eye infections with eye make-up.

We didn’t take days trips we planned to take while in Florence as we had to take time to shop for shoes and clothes that I did not want.

We canceled the Opera as we did not want to try to find something to wear.

5/25 (day 11 no luggage) It’s my birthday and I am wearing somebody else’s clothes.

5/28 We return to the states via Chicago.

As we are in line to board the flight back to Dallas, the cell phone rings and it is a call from Florence to say that they are trying to deliver our luggage.

I get home and there is a message from Florence saying that they need for me to call them back so they can get my luggage to me. They did not leave a number to call.

I have an e-mail from our hotel in Florence saying that our luggage was delivered to the hotel 1 hour after we left.

The nightmare continues as I have to take more of my time to document purchases, print credit card statements and rehash the entire trip in order to be compensated for items that I never wanted to buy.

Every time I look at photos of myself wearing clothes that are not mine, I will re-live the American Airlines nightmare.

Again, I expect to be compensated by American Airlines for the inconvenience, time lost, pain and tremendous stress that were caused by American Airlines and their employees.

* I am requesting to be reimbursed $1,748.48 for purchases (original receipts and credit card statement attached)

* A refund for the cost of my ticket – $1,192.20

* Frequent flyer points equal to one round trip international flight (I do not want a travel voucher as the time that I took for this trip was without pay and I can not afford to do that again for at least another year)

6/3/11 My luggage was delivered to my home one week after the end of my dream vacation to Italy.


cc: Gerard J. Arpey
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, American Airlines, Inc.

That sounds horrible!

You can ask for a refund for all the purchases you had to made while on your trip and then that they throw on a decent chunk of frequent flyer points as their apology gift. Asking for a full ticket refund is overkill, however.