When an airline loses your luggage, it can eventually find its way to a place like the Unclaimed Baggage Center in Scottsboro, Ala. — but only after the carrier spends months trying to track down the rightful owner. At least that’s how it’s supposed to work.
But sometimes airlines take shortcuts. British Airways did, at least according to Marta Callotta, a chiropractor from Long Beach, Calif. Dr. Callotta, one of the doctors for Team USA Triathlon, traveled to Hungary with a custom-built chiropractic table this summer. British Airways lost her table, and the passenger filed a lost-luggage claim.
Now here’s the thing about this table: there’s no doubt about whose table it is or where the owner lives. A large American flag is emblazoned across the front of the table, along with the words “Dr. Marta Callotta, Sports Chiropractic.” A simple Internet search would have helped reunite the table with its rightful owner.
Instead, after a lengthy wait, British Airways cut Dr. Callotta a check and gave up the table for lost. Case closed.
Or was it?
Just this week, Dr. Callotta got a call from the table’s manufacturer. She explains:
Someone from the UK contacted them as the table company’s name is also on the table. Apparently British Airways sold my table to this guy. He wanted to know how much it was worth.
So I guess my question to you is: Can they do this? If they found my table, shouldn’t they have returned it to me or does the fact that they gave me a partial check for my claim mean that they now “own” my table?
I want my table back. It is a custom table. Do you have any suggestions for me?
I contacted British Airways on behalf of the doctor, and the airline promised to look into the mystery of the missing table. Meanwhile, she’s working with the manufacturer to see if the table can be returned. I suspect there will be a happy ending.
But this incident raises a lot more questions about lost luggage than in can answer. What kind of efforts do airlines make to return misplaced luggage before selling their passengers’ property? Are they allowed to do this?
If Dr. Callotta made a claim on her lost luggage, and British Airways had the luggage, then you can’t really call her table “unclaimed.” So what business did the airline have in selling it?
I suspect there’s a much bigger story here.