An excerpt from this week’s "Middle Seat" column by Scott McCartney in the Wall Street Journal:
David Pykon, a New York hedge-fund trader, says he was given conflicting information by different American Airlines supervisors on daily expenses after his bag was lost on a Thanksgiving trip to Dallas last year. Although he had no clothes or toiletries, he was first told he had to limit his spending to $25 a day. Then he was told $50 a day. Later another official said $75 a day. Mr. Pykon borrowed clothes from friends but still spent nearly $200 over his four-day trip, and the airline gave him a check before his flight home for $170.
"They said tough luck—it is what it is," he said.
American spokesman Tim Smith said some of Mr. Pykon’s expenses may not have been pre-authorized.
The bag was never found and Mr. Pykon filed a claim for more than $2,600. He included credit-card statements showing purchases. American sent a check for $740, saying it accepted only actual store receipts, and didn’t cover electronics (he had lost an iPod), medication and sunglasses, he said. The airline discounted the value of other items for depreciation. He said he wrote to American three times, called repeatedly and was never allowed to speak to the person who handled his claim. (His credit-card company covered much of the loss the airline refused to pay.)
"It’s easier for them to frustrate me," Mr. Pykon said of the airline. "A person is only going to take it so far."
American says it hopes its processes aren’t frustrating and inconsistent. "We try to be fair and listen to what the customer needs," Mr. Smith said.
Have you ever had a similar experience?
I rarely check bags and thankfully have never lost a bag, but hearing stories like this makes me even more hesitant to check bags in the future.
The intent of McCartney’s column is to state that the FAA is cracking down on practices like this, but it is too late for many travelers who have been told that airline "policy" does not cover this item or that.
Conversely, I wonder how many people claim lost articles that were never in their bag in the first place?
I don’t know the answer, but I do know that next time I want to check a bag with valuable content, I will insure it with American Express.
Good thing Mr. Pykon had a back-up plan.