Case dismissed: “American Airlines completely destroyed our stroller”

Like many new parents, Marissa Maland travels with a stroller. Or, should I say traveled with one.

On a recent American Airlines flight from Dallas to Telluride, Colo., with her husband and 17-month-old son, she took every precaution to make sure the $700 stroller would be safe, including spending an extra $90 for a protective case.

It did her no good.

The couple checked the stroller at the ticket counter, as required by the airline. But when they landed in Colorado, their checked bag was in bad shape.

American Airlines completely destroyed our stroller. It is horrifying — the only thing we can fathom is that the plane or some other machine ran the stroller over. It was so badly mangled that we cannot open it or even reattach the wheels.

I know what you’re thinking: Why would anyone pay $700 for a stroller? Well, the Malands planned to do some hiking in the Rockies, and in order to do that, they needed a sturdy, “SUV”-type stroller.

Let’s go straight to American’s terms and conditions. According to its contract of carriage, the legal agreement between the airline and customer, it doesn’t accept strollers as checked luggage.

American … assumes no responsibility or liability for such items, regardless of whether American knew or should have known of the presence of such items in checked or transferred baggage.

If any such items are lost, damaged or delayed, you will not be entitled to any reimbursement under American’s standard baggage liability, or under any declared excess valuation. Do not attempt to check these items. Carry them with you in the passenger cabin (subject to carry-on baggage limitations).

You can imagine, then, that efforts to get American to reimburse Maland for the stroller were unsuccessful.

Interestingly, this wasn’t the only stroller the family brought on their trip. They wheeled their son to the gate in a smaller umbrella stroller, and were asked by an agent to gate-check it.

That stroller was lost by American Airlines.

I assumed it would be easy to trace and return. I was wrong. On Wednesday, we checked the stroller at the gate for our flight from Dallas to Miami.

Five days later, we still have not heard a single update on the whereabouts of the stroller. I’ve called daily, only to find that “no entries have been made in the system.”

On Day 6 — tomorrow — the claim becomes the responsibility of Central Baggage Services. But then they have an additional TEN WEEKS to try and locate the stroller before considering offering compensation! And if THIS stroller arrives damaged (which it likely will, seeing as it didn’t have a case), I again will have no recourse.

That really did it for me. American Airlines destroyed one stroller and lost another, and has done nothing for this family.

I contacted the airline on her behalf. It didn’t respond.

“Can they really get away with this?” Maland asked me.

Yes, they can — at least according to their contract. A better question is: Should they be able to get away from it?

No. This isn’t right.

(Photo: stopt hegears/Flickr)

Christopher Elliott

Christopher Elliott is an author, journalist and consumer advocate. You can read more about him on his personal website or contact him at . Got a question or comment? You can post it on the new forum.

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