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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  • Crissy

    No matter what their contract says…  If you mangle someones property you should do something for them.  and then lose another piece of property.  Extraordinarly bad service callse for some compensation.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Hmm. If AA doesn’t even accept strollers as checked luggage, they’re probably free and clear of any compensation. If the OP knew that, might have been worth it to take out some kind of insurance on a sweet $700 SUV-stroller, especially if it’s going to subsequently be used for hiking as well! While it sux for the OP, I don’t think AA has any liability. Interested to know what the case was made of. I can’t imagine someone running OVER the stroller. Was it so delicate that it may have gotten damaged by being shoved into a corner by much sturdier luggage?

  • Raven_Altosk

    Let me translate AA’s contract of carriage: “You pay to give us stuff. We break stuff. We don’t care.”

    AA needs to replace the stroller they damaged and the one they lost. Did the OP have to pay to check the larger stroller? Those funds should be returned, too.

    (Isn’t that a new law now? If they lose luggage they charged you to check, they must refund the baggage fee?) I mean, it makes sense to me, half the the things airlines do don’t make sense, so…

  • ChrisY

    I think the $700 has to be a lost cause.  There is no “but” clause in the CoC for expensive strollers, for those that have a protective case, or for strollers that have a ‘lot’ of damage.

    As for the smaller stroller, if the OP intended to bring it as carry-on, and the GA made them check it, that is a different story altogether.  At that point, it’s not “checked luggage” in that the OP did not intend to check it.  I suppose they’ll have to wait out the ten-plus weeks, but if it’s not found then, I think they’re entitled to compensation.

  • $16635417

    They should not have been charged a fee in the first place. An infant stroller is considered an “assistive device”.

    From the AA website:
    “Please note: American is not responsible for damage to any
    stroller not properly packed in original packaging.

    †Effective June 1, 2011, large, jogging,
    non-collapsible strollers, or those over 20 lbs will no longer be accepted at
    the gate and therefore must be checked at the ticket counter. There is no charge
    as long as a child or infant is traveling.”

    ……note how they say they are not responsible for damage to a stoller not packed properly. Does this mean they ARE responsible for damage to a properly packed stroller??? This is like me telling my daughter “You can’t go on a date this Saturday if it is raining.” when I REALLY mean “You can’t go on a date this Saturday…period!”.

    AA doublespeak???

  • Tom

    I’m sure if they can afford a $700 stroller and a family vacation to Telluride, this is about principle, not money. Plus, at 17 months, the kid should be walking pretty soon and will not need a stroller.

  • K.

    Tom, you don’t know what you are talking about.  Whether they had to scrimp and save for the trip, or whether this was something they could afford without a blink, is not pertinent at all.  And even kids who can walk may not be able to walk distances over a day, or will need a place to nap when the family is out and about on vacation.

    The airlines accepted the stroller as checked luggage and presumably gave them a claim ticket.  If they do not accept strollers, the ticket agent should have refused them at the ticket counter, or given them a provisional acceptance while making them aware that there would be no liability on their part.

  • Ira R

    Seems to me that if their contract says that they don’t accept strollers as baggage, that  should have been indicated at check-in.  Instead, by accepting the stroller, AA has chosen to override it’s contract.  Once done, they would seem responsible for their decision.

    Given their contract, AA should have ample space in the cabin for strollers.  If not, and AA insists on items that their contract indicates should be placed in the cabin be placed with luggage, it is AA that bears responsibility for this, not the customer.  The rules were followed by the OP with the second stroller, yet AA forced them to violate the contract of carriage and thus should bear complete responsibility.

    Additionally, I would argue (despite having no training in contract law) that through their actions with the second stroller, it is clear that despite their protests, AA requires strollers to be checked.  Saying that a stroller must not be checked and then requiring one to do so indicates that the contract is invalid/unenforceable.  It’s CYA pure and simple, but AA is completely at fault and should be held responsible.

  • Tony A.

    Used to commute between Sacramento (SMF) and New York (LGA) for more than a year after my son was born. I bought a combi lightweight stroller made of aircraft aluminum. I could carry it with one finger and it fit the overhead bins “line an umbrella”. Got so much abuse and mileage but it was indestructible. Small enough – was never asked to gate check it. Cost me just over a $100 at that time (19 years ago). Sometimes rich parents need a lot of common sense. Why travel with a $700 stroller? Is anyone going to ooh and aah at the brand while at Telluride?

  • Jody

    As a mom who traveled frequently with small children the first lesson learned is don’t take the expensive stroller on vacation. They are big, they are heavy and the airline will trash it.

    I’m confused why they brought two strollers on vacation. Why add more stuff? My tip for parents who travel with small children has always been to ship items ahead and save yourself the overloaded cart at the airport.

    While I’m sorry for their experience, and I think American should reimburse them for the destroyed stroller, unless they have timestamped images to prove that the stroller was in pristine condition before they checked it, the family is out of luck.

    As for the umbrella stroller, it should have had a gate check tag on it and should have been able to be tracked with that. We had a stroller not make a plane change in Dublin and it was delivered by Aer Lingus to Shannon later that day. If they still have the gate check receipt American should replace that stroller.

  • emanon256

    “I can’t imagine someone running OVER the stroller.”
    I have seen this happen.  On a return trip from Hawaii with my wife and her friends, my wife’s friend got paged while we were waiting for our luggage.  We all went over and they told us that her bag had been “run over” and then produced a giant plastic bag with her suitcase which was flattened and ripped with tire tracks.  All of her contents were ripped and mangled as well.  The baggage person had her document every item, I took pictures of every item on my phone as well, and she filled out a claim form.  A few days later the airline called her and offered to pay her $250.  She was satisfied, as she said it was a cheap $40 suitcase and mostly contained clothing.  She was upset as she bought new cloths in Hawaii which were destroyed, but she felt that the $250 covered what she spent and the other clothing was old anyway. Needless to say, it didn’t cover everything, but was more than she expected and she didn’t care about the suitcase.
    This was on Delta.  I, being a lifelong United fan, was also surprised how well Delta handled this.

  • ChrisY

    It doesn’t say they don’t accept strollers, just that they don’t accept liability for them.

  • $16635417

    Thinking about this some more.
    AA does not specifically exclude liability for strollers per their CoC. The larger group is fragile items, of which they cite a stroller as an example.
    What is a fragile item? One could argue a fragile item, in the airline context,  is one that is not built to withstand the normal rigors of air travel. Is a stroller built for mountain hiking no longer a “fragile” one, but a “sturdy” one? Possibly. (Remember, AA does not exclude liability for strollers, but cite strollers as part of a group of fragile items.)
    Protective case was used. Could we get more information on what this is? Is it a fabric pouch used to protect the item from straches? Is it a hard sided case designed for use with this stroller? If it is the latter, even a better argument that this is no longer a fragile item and should be able to withstand the NORMAL rigors of air travel. Which brings me to my next point….
    The stoller was badly mangled. Was this done during the NORMAL rigors of air travel? If this was run over by a bag cart, for example, does AA consider that “normal” treatment of baggage?
    The more I think about it, the more I belive a skilled lawyer/advocate can make a reasonable case for compensation. If it can be shown that this was a sturdy, well protected item AA would have to admit that the mangling is the “normal” treatment of baggage…something I suspect they will not do.
    I do not expect a baggage office employee will sign off on this. Which is why I would now vote against AA and hope for Chris to continue to advocate this case.

    The second umbrella stroller? I think the claim for a LOST item is valid and hope the OP continues to pursue it.

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Ms. Maland’s homeowner’s insurance should cover the stroller, subject to the deductible.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    I think you’re first question was answered in the first few paragraphs of the article…  They brought an expensive stroller that was much more rugged than an umbrella stroller because they were going hiking.  They brought the second, smaller, less expensive stroller to get through the airport.

    I agree with their thinking 100%…  Airlines handle all sorts of odd items such as golf clubs, instruments, skis, you name it.  Certainly one stroller, albeit a rugged one, should have made it through the short flight.  The OP said it appeared to have been run over.  It probably was.

    I think it’s great you have absolutely no need for a stroller while you travel with a small child.  I see strollers in airports all the time so it would seem the rest of the world isn’t quite the supermom you present yourself to be.

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    I can’t believe AA is weaseling out of this one with fine print.  Looks like a letter from their attorney and/or a trip to small claims is the solution.

  • Travelgal

    I think AA needs to clarify themselves – do they or do they not accept strollers as checked luggage?  It seems they have contradicting statements on their website, one about not accepting strollers at all that Chris noted in the article, and the two statements about checking strollers that Mikegun noted:

    †Effective June 1, 2011, large, jogging, non-collapsible strollers, or those over 20 lbs will no longer be accepted at the gate and therefore must be checked at the ticket counter. There is no charge as long as a child or infant is traveling.”


    “Please note: American is not responsible for damage to any stroller not properly packed in original packaging.”
    If you are going to tell people how a stroller should be packed, and if you are going to say that large stollers must be checked at the ticket counter – and when you accept them as a gate checked item (which ends up in the belly of the plane with all the other checked luggage anyway) then you DO accept the strollers as checked luggage.

    Therefore – the OP should be reimbursed for both strollers.  I think I’m going to plaster my luggage with those stickers you see in a china shop – “You break it, you buy it.”  

  • Travelgal

    So I take it Tom that you don’t have children and have never had to chase a 3 or 4 year old around the mall or an amusement park, or had to carry a sound-asleep 2 year old because you didn’t have his stoller with you?

    At 17 months the child should be walking very well – running in fact – and a stoller is required to help contain the high energy child as well as save the arms and backs of the parents.

  • philpm

    I’m confused.  If both strollers were required to be checked, one at the ticket counter, and the other at the gate, how can American refuse to take responsibility for loss or damage? 

  • Mark K

    The CoC states “including” strollers, not “such as” strollers when noting fragile items.  This to me means they are definitely defining strollers as fragile items and excluding coverage for them.  Maybe it would be clearer if they just specifically stated that car seats and strollers were not covered instead of including them in the fragile category.
    Personally, I would not think of a stroller as a fragile items seeing the abuse many take during normal use.  Of course these are not normally run over by vehicles in daily use.  Apparently AA has damaged so many of them over the years that they felt the need to specifically point out that a stroller is not something you get reimbursed for if they damage it.  

    The list given on the CoC page looks like every time AA had to pay for a specific item to more passengers than they though was acceptable, they added it to the list of exclusions.  

  • Travelgal

    Very good points Mike.  I think that AA will have to agree that mangling a piece of luggage is not their “normal”. 

  • Pat

    That policy was probably written back when they did not charge baggage fees. I wonder if now that customers need to pay a fee for their baggage, if that would legally increase the responsibility and liability of the airlines. If I am paying a fee for a service and the service is not properly provided, I would think that would make the current AA policy invalid.

  • Phil

    AA is wrong, their contract of carriage may be correct but morally they are wrong, as are most other airlines in situations like this. Perhaps their home owners insurance would cover their losses.

  • Mark K

    Most credit cards now offer buyer protection providing refunds for lost or damaged items for a length of time after purchase.  How long before the stroller was damaged was it purchased?  And did the OP use a credit card to make the purchase that has such coverage?  If so, they might be able to get reimbursed by the credit card company.  

    I know this would not a true resolution to the issue since the airline gets away with something it shouldn’t.  But at least the OP is not out the cost of the stroller.

    I feel that most of the items on the list in the CoC are valid for exclusion and are things I would not want to check anyway.  But a stroller is not something airlines allow on the plane with the current situation of over stuffed bins with everyone is dragging things on as carry on luggage that they used to check.  All passengers are forced to check strollers even if they don’t want to, so the airline should then accept responsibility for damage or loss as they do for any other checked bag, especially if the stroller is packed into a container for travel as this one was.  

  • Jody

    I never claimed not to travel with a stroller, nor did I claim to be a super mom. I did see, after commenting, that they had bought to stroller for hiking,but I still wonder why they would trust it to the airlines.

    While airlines do often handle oversize equipment they also charge more for it. If the couple had to pay a special handling fee for the stroller I could see that they would have a case for reimbursement. Unfortunately, AA states that they don’t accept liability for strollers, period.

    It doesn’t take more than a minute to find information about airlines destroying strollers if you Google it. While I do tihink AA is completely at fault, the couple simply has a no recourse.

    And thanks so much for the personal attack.

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    We have done a lot of hiking with our 5-YO son starting when he was 14-MO old.  I don’t think that we could have used a stroller on most if not all of the trails that we have hiked since the path were narrow, rocks, etc.  The first hike, we tried to use a “stroller” (you could use it as a jogger or connect it to a bike) but the path wasn’t wide enough after 15 minutes leaving the trailhead so we ended up carrying our son in an umbrella stroller.  We purchased a ‘backpack stroller” (up to 40 lb) and our son love it and it was good exercise for me until he was old enough (this past spring) to walk the entire hike (3 miles; climbing over rocks; etc.).

  • kimrod219

    As a very frequent flyer I have seen luggage destroyed several times while watching loading/unloading on the plane at the next gate through carelessness AND through intentional actions by the baggage handlers, including throwing cases off the aircraft to the ground instead of putting them on the conveyor.

  • TxSailor

    American’s motto: “We hate to fly, and you will too”. So the Malands are now another successful example of AA’s motto!!  I have always believed that American’s attitude is “You are lucky we let you on our airplane.  So shut up and sit down”.  Cleadly they don’t want young childern on their planes.

  • Sheinfamil

    AAs new rules say you are required to check large strollers at the front desk you are not allowed to gate check they can’t have one rule saying they don’t accept strollers as checked luggage and another rule saying you háve to check it

  • Hrosenwass

    The answer to such outrageous conduct on the part of the airline would be small claims court… insisting if possible, on a jury… although that’s not always possible. 

    The legal stance of American Airlines is contrary to public policy.

  • $16635417

    Actually they DO say “such as” (as well as “including”) in the CoC:

     “fragile items (including child/infant restraint devices such as strollers and
    car seats)”

    …and they also do seem to wish to include ALL child/infant restraint devices….but is this primarly a restraint device or a mobility device? I would argue mobility.

    China is specifically excluded, but it is also fragile. Why not lump IT under fragile?

    Most strollers, when just folded down and checked, probably cannot always withstand the normal rigors of air travel. This was a “heavy duty” one, presumably, and also (again presumably) contained in a protective case.

  • Clare

    Some years back, I sat in coach next to an elderly, well travelled lady who told me that in years gone by (so okay, this is a ways back!), she had had a beautiful set of matched light-blue luggage, very conspicuous stuff.  That’s the reason why, while she was already seated on a plane one day, she was able to recognize one piece as a baggage-cart heading toward her own plane turned a sharp corner and it fell off, onto the tarmac. 
    Incredibly, it sat there (the driver didn’t notice yet) and while she watched, a plane taxied down that runway and DROVE OVER IT.  Right before her eyes!  Can you imagine how thoroughly trashed the suitcase and its contents were?
    I wish I could remember which airline it was–they did reimburse her for it.  Now I’m wondering if the case that emanon describes met the same fate?
    Could this have happened to the stroller too?  Sounds like it’s possible, from the description of damage…

  • Clare

    So okay, if AA had manned-up and apologized (which costs nothing), and then paid for the two strollers, they’d be out less than a thousand bucks.  In contrast, how much will it cost them now that Chris has posted this?

    Thanks for publicizing this, Chris!  The whole travelling world needs to know!  I already won’t fly AA because of their stupefyingly bad customer service.  Maybe now, after reading this, others will join me! 

  • Michael K

    “Please note: American is not responsible for damage to any 
    stroller not properly packed in original packaging.

    The irony is that the protective case was probably much more secure than the “original packaging”.

    Especially if the protective case was purchased from or certified by the stroller manufacturer then AA’s argument is disingenuous. 

  • David

    We had a Graco stroller mangled by Continental.  They told us that, although it was excluded, they’d give us $100.00.  That was fair for a used stroller that cost about $150.00.  They also mangled another customer’s stroller who claimed their ‘Bugaboo’ cost $900.00.  They also got $100.00.  Exact same situation – we were satisfied and the other was furious.  You can’t please everybody.

    Moral – The CUSTOMER has to assume some risk of loss when you check items that are obviously outside the ‘normal’ range of value.  Covering our Graco – fair.  Some clown wants to check a stroller that costs a grand – you’re on your own.

  • Michael K

    I recently travelled with a gate checked small stroller and car seat on a Delta / South Atlantic itinerary.  On 3 of the 4 legs, parts were lost or damaged.  After the first leg, one of the stroller’s handlebar covers was missing (apparently torn off).  It was never found (and we didn’t pursue a claim for it).  On the third leg,  the car seat’s head rest was lost (again, never found).  On the final leg, the stroller’s cup holder had been torn off and was missing (again, never found).

    We pursued a claim for the last 2 items (head rest and cup holder) and to Delta’s credit they did ultimately reimburse us for the replacement parts (a little over $30).

    I will only fly with bargain cheap strollers and car seats from now on if I can help it….

  • Asiansm Dan

    That’s the reason of the automatic denying because AA want to us try other insurance we have in parallel, home insurance or travel insurance.

  • Marcin

    I wonder if some kind of travel insurance would help in this situation. I mostly travel internationally and always buy a travel insurance for me and my family. It usually includes insurance for damaged or lost luggage. I am not sure if it would be useful if a airline does not accept some kind of luggage. 

  • Ira Rosen

    From the contract: “Do not attempt to check these items. Carry them with you in the passenger cabin (subject to carry-on baggage limitations).”

    Once AA forced the OP to check the stroller, it no longer had the right to limit their own liability.

  • Aaron

    I don’t get that. They tell you to take the stroller into the cabin — but in all my years of flying American, I’ve never seen a stroller in the cabin. They always gate-check them.

    If American doesn’t accept strollers as luggage, I wonder if they accepted a $35 baggage fee?

    Anyway… money-grubbing tactics like this are one of the reasons I recently stopped flying American. So far, they’ve missed out on about 30,000 miles’ worth of my business.

  • $16635417

    A stroller is specifically excluded from a fee per AA’s T&C’s.

  • Tony A.

    Hey wait a minute now! I just checked my GDS. American (AA) does not fly to Telluride (TEX). To fly AA, you need to INTERLINE with Great Lakes Aviation (ZK) in Denver. Their (ZK) scheduled equipment is a Beechcraft 1900 Twin Engine with 19 pax capacity. Wonder why the big stroller broke in pieces? Is it AA or ZK’s fault???

    If American DAA  (gate checked) the smaller umbrella stroller, then it should have gotten LOST in Denver. Maybe the couple thought is would be in TEX and forgot to retrieve it in DEN outside the aircraft?

    Also Elliott [QUOTE]we checked the stroller at the gate for our flight from Dallas to Miami.[/QUOTE] Is Miami a typo? Or did this family start in Miami?
    I’m now very confused.

  • $16635417

    The probably didn’t pay a fee. Strollers are specifically excluded from excess bag fees. If they did mistakenly get charged, they should get a prompt refund for that at least.

  • Mbods2002

    It seems this part; “The couple checked the stroller at the ticket counter, as required by the airline” happened because the ticket agent said they had to check it. Then this part; “the legal agreement between the airline and customer, it doesn’t accept strollers as checked luggage” was in their contract of carriage.  Ticket agent represents airline, required them to check stroller, stroller damaged/lost.  Seems clear cut to me.  What am I missing?  Say she read the contract of carriage beforehand and when agent requested she check it, she mentioned according to contract she should bring on board. I foresee many scenarios, one being, “No, that’s wrong/outdated, you have to check it.”  Worse case she would be arrested for daring to question an airport employee.  Why do people continue to fly when absolutely everyone involved in the experience hates the customer/citizen?  All right, sorry.  The agent is at fault here.  It was up to him/her to inform her that she needed to bring stroller on board.  If airline employees don’t even know the 1000s of rules, how can they expect their customer to?  Oh, wait, they HATE us, right.

  • john4868

    Let’s change the context here … I have a 4ft crystal vase that I want to take home with me. Its bigger than the allowed carry on size so the airline won’t let me take it on the airplane. Just because I wrap it in a paper bag and give to them to check, doesn’t mean that they are responsible when it get broken. The COC says that they don’t accept responsiblity for fragile items.

    Just because you check an item doesn’t mean that they accept responsiblity for all of the contents. Otherwise, we’d all have to go through an inspection of all of the contents at check in.

    In short, the stroller was too big to carry on so they checked it eventhough the airline doesn’t accept responsbility for strollers. Sounds like she should be talking to whomever sold her the “protective case” that wasn’t. Unless it was just one of the embriodered bags that doesn’t claim to protect and has nothing to absorb impacts. 

  • Jeanne_in_NE

    Agreed, but I was just responding to James’ statement that they should have taken out insurance on the stroller.  They already had insurance as part of their normal homeowners’ or renters’ insurance. 

  • Ccall

    Uh, where was the personal attack?

  • Pat

    Just because it is excluded in the T&C, it does not necessarily make it legally enforceable. That is my question. Since they are now charging the fee for luggage, does that now legally invalidate he T&C exclusion and allow them to sue (and win).

  • ChrisY

    Yep, I agree and stated as much above, for the smaller stroller.  The big one probably was too large to be a carry-on, and the airline specifically excludes liability on that.  

  • $16635417

    Regardless of how you pack the crystal is still fragile.

  • $16635417

    I thought you were referring specifically to this case, where, presumably, a fee was not collected.

  • BlondieDC

    Reminds me of United Breaks Guitars:

    It just ain’t right!

  • Beaten Baggage

    It is amazing how baggage/luggage is treated.  We watched in horror during a layover as the luggage coming in off the little wagon cars was thrown as hard as humanly possible against the conveyer.  Initially we thought that the first handler was having just a horrible day and was taking it out on the luggage — but one after another (there were two exceptions) used their maximum strength to slam bag after bag against the wall and on to the conveyor belt.  Our luggage can only make 3 or 4 trips before it is completely destroyed any more.  The last trip, my bag had one HUGE foot print on the outside.  Nothing fragile can go into those bags any longer.

  • Guest

    But most of us have $1,000 deductible — so that won’t work and is shameful that they would attempt to have homeowner’s insurance cover it.  They are the responsible party.  I’m betting that it did get run over.

  • Guest

    Original packaging?  You have to keep the box that it came in?  Really?

  • $16635417

    Or the case designed for the stroller to travel in.

  • Anna

    ONE stroller (per kid), yes, but the Malands were travelling with TWO strollers. I’m guessing they used the one-for-free card for the cheapo stroller (which they used at the airport) and checked the SUV stroller as regular luggage?

  • Anna

    You can bring one stroller per child for free – and here that would have been the cheap stroller which was gate-checked. The other stroller was checked in as normal luggage, and that’s why AA is using their “no liability for strollers in/as checked luggage” disclaimer. I’m not saying whether AA is right or wrong, I just think that’s what’s going on here.

  • $16635417

    Good question. The main stroller was too big to be considered a carryon and needed to be checked, fee waived. The umbrella stroller CAN be considered a carry on if room allows. I would check the big one, and call the umbrella a carry on. If room does not allow, like with my roll aboard in an RJ, it could be checked planeside at no charge.  

  • Andi330

    Most airlines require that any stroller be checked as far as I know, whether it is checked in at the counter, or “gate checked.” They don’t qualify in size to be a carry on, so they have to go with the checked baggage. Since the airline would have required the customer to check it, regardless of where they checked it, the airline should be required to pay for it. Strollers are pretty basic baby equipment (although a $700 stroller does seem a bit high priced). 

    I wonder if a court of law (small claims court) would disagree with the airline as to its responsibility, when it does not permit strollers as carry on baggage.

  • y_p_w

    You should see some of the stuff that’s out there. The supremely high-priced brands include Peg-Perego (made in Italy) and Orbit Baby.

  • y_p_w

    The abuse that a stroller can take is in regular daily use.  That would be normal folding and unfolding, as well as use with all the wheels on the ground.  Now there are lots of parts that are actually fragile if abused – even if it’s a so-called “SUV-style” stroller.  They might have an anti-shock mechanism and mountain-bike style tires, but I’m pretty sure if you slam a hard object sideways into the suspension that it’s going to break.

  • y_p_w

    I was thinking something like a BOB Sport Utility Stroller, but that lists for under $400.  Even with the $109 case, it’s less than $500 total.

    Seriously though, these things can’t really take much abuse when they’re disassembled.  They’re meant for use with all wheels on the ground.  When broken down for travel, they can break and bend.  They have lots of fragile parts that normally don’t touch the ground.  I could easily imagine an air cargo crew breaking a button or knob.

  • $16635417

    I just checked out the BOB stroller online AND its “protective” case and I have to admit I was not impressed. The case appears to have a frame, but is softsided. If I’m spending $700 on a stroller, I would hope for a better case. I am still curious what the OP’s was.

  • y_p_w

    Um.  Peg-Perego.

  • Sershev

    Airlines were responsive to social media in the past:
    remember youtube video “United destroyed my guitar” or facebook page
    about American losing a cat. Can something like this be done in this case to
    get their attention and maybe some compensation? Maybe you should start
    twitting all the time until they respond?

  • Tony A.

    Ok I think I get it now… I reckon the family brought 2 strollers from Miami to Telluride. One was packed in a case and they intended to be checked luggage (regardless of AA’s COC). They also brought a smaller umbrella type which they used to wheel around “Johnny” at the airport.

    The checked stroller was ruined ON THE WAY TO TELLURIDE. The umbrella stroller was lost ON THE WAY BACK TO MIAMI.

    Because of COC clearly states that AA is not liable for any damage to a stroller placed as checked baggage since they are fragile items, AND THE PASSENGER IS DEEMED TO HAVE AGREED WITH THE AIRLINE’S COC WHEN THEY PURCHASED A TICKET, then I don’t think AA is liable for the stroller damage.

    Note that for a MIA-DFW-DEN-TEX flight on a AA ticket (with an end-on-end combination of a Great Lakes Aviation fare), the DEN-TEX segment would have been flown on a Great Lakes (ZK) flight. While the damage could have been caused anywhere during the flight (including the portion flown and handled on the ground by ZK); since AA tagged the baggage (I assume checked through to Telluride) then they are responsible for it. But this point is moot because AA’s COCs excludes damage liability to strollers checked as luggage.

    Now the umbrella stroller that got lost is a different story. According to the pax, they asked or were asked to “gate-check” the stroller. I assume they got a DAA tag (Delivery At Aircraft) from AA in DFW for MIA. (Note my prior assumption was incorrect since I originally thought they lost this stroller on the way to Telluride.) DAA items are considered carry-on baggage (as far as I know). AA COC’s are pretty quiet about the liability exclusions on carry-on items that are DAAed. The Malands may have a better claim on the lost of the umbrella stroller. However, it might be too cheap to argue about. Case Closed. Next time travel with a throwaway stroller.

  • Sershev

    Here is the link to that youtube video I mentioned:
    After th video United actually reached out to the customer and compensated for the broken guitar

  • $16635417

    Not convinced the CoC clearly excludes strollers though. Too many contradictions and vague references as I noted in previous posts.

  • Tony A.

    Elliott provided a link to AA’s COC above.
    In the Liability section  – referring to fragile items (including child/infant restraint devices such as strollers and car seats)…

    American does not accept these items in or as
    checked baggage and 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

    The way I understand this if one checks-in a stroller (with or without the knowledge of AA), AA says it is not liable for loss, damage, or delay of the stroller. It seems they have carved out an exception from the Montreal Convention on Damage, Delayed, and Lost Baggage. Whether they can really legally do that (wiggle out of the Montreal Convention), I don’t know.

  • Tony A.

    Oops, this is *not* an international flight so I don’t think the Montreal Convention applies.

  • $16635417

    Exactly. I I indicated in previous posts. Break down the first sentence and you’ll see, again, I detailed it in another post.

    A contract is about “exact words” (Brady Bunch reference here!) They do not say all strollers are fragile, but an item “such as” as stroller, (if fragile) is covered here. The argument is to define “what is fragile” in air travel context and was this particular stroller model fragile.

    Also, they DO indicate via their website that their policy changed on June 1, 2011 and DO advise passenegers to check large strollers.

  • Tony A.

    Ok I see your point now. “Such As” is not equal to “ALL or ANY”.  Very good point! Because it’s vague, it might not exculpate AA of liability.

    Also you might want to read –

    The DOT also took notice of these “weasel  words”.

  • Sunnykm

    Airlines are in the business of transporting regular luggage and pax.  Strollers, skis, golf clubs etc are extraordinary items.  

    Why didn’t the family FedEx the expensive stroller to the hotel?  Why hassle with two strollers?

  • Sunnykm

    Clare it won’t cost AA anything.  People will still fly them tomorrow because they don’t have a stroller.  

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    There must be a reason why AA specifically state that they won’t cover strollers. My guess is that they’re structurally susceptible to damage and more often than not, they get damaged in transit. So it’s hard to fault AA for 1) telling people up front that strollers are NOT covered and 2) if you check it in, then it’s at your own risk, but still have ppl demanding compensation when their stroller gets damaged. The only other alternative is for AA to blanket BAN strollers as checked luggage, but then again, you’ll have ppl up in arms about that. That’s why their carriage contract specifically says ‘whether we know about it or not’. So basically it’s a gamble to check them in. If you choose to do so, don’t whine if/when it gets damaged. The rules suck, but those ARE the rules.

  • Chris

    1) I think that hiding the stroller in a bag was a mistake : it has therefore been treated as any bag / suitcase and probably put undernearth other heavy luggage. Had it been visible (or in a transparent plastic bag provided by the airline – at least in France they’ll give you some bags to protect car seats and strollers), it probably would have arrived without damage.

    2) I don’t care about their contract of carriage. Their website states that :
    “The following items can either be checked in or carried onboard free of charge for each child / infant travelling:

    One checked fully collapsible child stroller / pushchair or child carrier to check in. The child carrier can be taken in place of a pushchair, but not in addition to a pushchair
    One child carrier as carry-on within 22in / 56cm in length, 14in / 35cm in width and 9in / 23cm in height
    Pushchairs and child safety seats may be checked at the gate.”

    As they have chosen to accept babies on board, and use “free check-in” as a marketing bait, then they have to deliver the items in good working condition or pay the consequences.

    3) Checking it at the ticket counter is not per airline policy, and was a mistake : had it been checked at the gate as written in their policy, it would also probably have been fine ! And it would have saved them from carrying a second one !!!

  • Chris

    They might be extraordinary items, but all airlines are more than happy to market on their websites that they’ll take care of them, in order not to lose those segment of the travelling public (often frequent travellers paying top dollars for their passions) !
    Therefore, if they market it, they have to deal with them and treat them with care !

  • Chris

    Not a closed case in my mind :
    AA clearly states on its website that you can travel with strollers, car seats, … and what to do with them !
    Therefore, shielding behind its coc when it breaks one is both unfair and deceptive !…

  • Chris

    Clear plastic bags provided by the airline is the answer

  • $16635417

    The problem is trying to convince a baggage services clerk, lead, supervisor or manager of this is probably going to get you nowhere. You would need to get the attention of someone higher up either through an advocate or by initiating legal action.

  • Jake

    Or they could just be trying to weasel out of any possible responsibility.

  • Tony A.

    Chris, After doing more research I am changing my vote to  KEEP THIS CASE OPEN! Here is why:

    For DOMESTIC air travel, the U.S. has a law –

    14 CFR § 254.4   Carrier liability.

    On any flight segment using large aircraft, or on any flight segment that is included on the same ticket as another flight segment that uses large aircraft, an air carrier shall not limit its liability for provable direct or consequential damages resulting from the disappearance of, damage to, or delay in delivery of a passenger’s personal property, including baggage, in its custody to an amount less than $3,300 for each passenger.
    [72 FR 3943, Jan. 29, 2007, as amended at 73 FR 70592, Nov. 21, 2008]

    The carrier’s COC does not trump this law. The law did *not* say that airlines were NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR FRAGILE baggage. So, if the carrier tries to weasel around this using a bogus FRAGILITY clause  in its COCs to limit its liability, that action can be interpreted to be a unfair and deceptive practice under 49 U.S.C. § 41712.

    The point is the stroller was in the custody of the airline when it broke.
    Therefore, the airline is liable for damage.

    For INTERNATIONAL flights, the airlines are given some wiggle room in the Montreal Convention – Article 17. Death and Injury of Passengers – Damage to Baggage …

    However, the carrier is not liable if and to the extent that the damage resulted from the inherent defect, quality or vice of the baggage.

    If Congress intended to give airlines such wiggle room for DOMESTIC flights then it would have; but it didn’t. So in my opinion, for DOMESTIC flights, the carrier is liable for any damage to baggage for as long as the baggage is in the custody of the airline.

    American Airlines should pay for the damage done to Marissa Maland’s $700 stroller and should also pay for the loss of her umbrella stroller.

    I hope I don’t have to change my mind or vote again. Sorry.

  • A

    Seeing as the airline lost the stroller they gate checked how exactly would the other stroller have been fine? Either they gate check it and it gets lost or the check it in baggage with a protective case no doubt and it gets accidently run over, either way not fine. Though I do agree with the rest of your statement. If you accept the item it seems to me that you should at least return it in useable condition. If completey destroy an item then you should own up to your mistake and replace the item regardlessof contract of carriage simply because it is the right thing to do. Getting banged up in transport is one thing, getting completely destroyed is another.

  • MichelleLV

    Not all people…my next flight will include a new stroller.  I’m already un-happy with American Airlines from my previous flight and because of this story I will definitely rule them out for my next trip.    Multiple domestic airlines typically charge about the same on my most frequent routes so it is all about the customer service. 3 tickets at 400.00 a piece is what they could have got from me. 

  • MichelleLV

    How does this contribute to story about AA destroying and losing strollers?  

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    Uhhh, no. At the gate, the OP had a choice: Check it with no guarantee or leave it. Just because the agent told her it couldn’t go onboard doesn’t mean the agent waived the COC. It sux, but dat’s da trut.

  • Fly, Icarus, Fly

    It’s because they can’t say: You’re not allowed to bring a large stroller. You can check it, but they’re not liable. If you get past the ticket agent (which is easy to do) and get to the gate, they will force you to check it. The morale is: if you decide to go ahead and bring a large stroller, you’re screwed.

  • MarkieA

    It doesn’t. It’s just more proof from ARW that he is Super Parent, Super Traveler, Super Businessman, etc.

  • sara8032

    Seems like one of those examples where shipping the item via FedEx or UPS would be worth it – at least they admit responsibility if the item is damaged in transit. Of course, that still wouldn’t guarantee no damage – after having shipped about 10 large items over the past few weeks and half of them having arrived slightly to seriously damaged (and package missing copmletely) despite original shipping packaging + extra reinforcement (double box etc) being used. But they ARE still paying to replace / repair the damages. So if you have something large, bulky and that expensive to bring on a plane, using a shipper is probably a better idea regardless.

  • PrinceHarrysMum

     Google story : Jack the cat lost in JFK airport Baggage hanger  , same title on Face Book :-
    Should it be right that American Airlines  treat live animals as baggage in the pet transport  service they offer to customers .
    Then  ( not surprisingly) if something goes wrong like long lists show- loss / injuries and death, they expect us to go away and stop pestering them for how this could happen, and compensate as if we are unreasonably  grieving the loss of something less worthy than a worn out damaged suitcase !

  • Duke Nukem


  • MikeZ

    I call bs on your statement about being damaged in transit. These things take abuse from people shoving them in minivans, trunks, trucks, and hatches every single day and yet they last for years. In most cases are even handed down to others. It takes some serious abuse to damage one beyond repair, and if that is done, then the company that did it should ofer compensation. (especially if it is required by the airline to be checked baggage)

  • flutiefan

    you have rows and columns of 10-12 50lb suitcases stacked in your minivan and trunk, surrounding your stoller? wow.

    James is 100% correct.

  • flutiefan

    my airline (which is NOT AA) has a similar policy. we clearly accept strollers, but i advise every customer who checks one in that we are not responsible for loss, nor damage to that stroller, as it is not luggage. i say the same thing for golf clubs, guitars, and other “unusual” items. we used to have to have the passenger sign the claim check as proof of the advisory, but not anymore. in any case, they will still try to get compensation if something minor happens (same as when they get a tiny scratch on their suitcase…they try to blame us, even though bags are designed to protect the contents inside, not the outside pretty pattern).

    that said, if one of our tugs (trucks that carry luggage and push out planes) were to run over a stroller and mangle it this badly as she describes, you can bet my airline would NOT stick to the company line of “we’re not liable”. us lowly airport employees may not be able to make such determinations, but i know our central baggage people would do the right thing. maybe not reimburse $700, but *something* more than a “too bad, so sad”.

  • DAvid Kazarian

    just another exammple of how the airlines dont care about their customers.  I wont fly American because they just don’t care.  I won’t fly United for the same reason.

  • Old Airline Guy

    I was an airline employee, including several stints in management who periodically assisted in baggage service.  Although AA’s contract of carriage says one thing, sometimes it’s just best to do the RIGHT thing. 
    A few years ago, while traveling as a revenue passenger, I checked a roller bag on UA.  When it finally showed up three days later the handle had been badly mangled.  A friend at UA pointed out several things, including where the handle has been pried with a screwdriver to separate from the frame.  The apparent reason?  My business card was in a Southwest Airlines plastic luggage tag, and it was the same time that UA’s unions were being told by management that they needed to be more like WN.  There was probably video evidence of the actions on a security camera.  But UA’s station manager, as well as central baggage service in Chicago, cited the contract of carriage: a handle sticks out and therefore is not covered in a damage claim.  Again, sometimes it’s better to just do the right thing.  Remember the “United Destroyed My Guitar” song of a few years ago?  Maybe it’s time for an “American Destroyed My Stroller” ditty…. 

  • Mardagg317

    That’s one reason (among many) that I WILL NOT fly American Airlines. Nobody wants to accept responsibility for errors they committed, especially when they break things. I think AA ought to have reimbursed the family for the stroller. My husband, a professional trombonist, had his horn fattened by AA on a flight from New York. At that time (before de-regulation) AA paid for the repairs. If it happened now, AA would place the blame on my husband. Today they do not allow musical instruments to be stowed as carry-on, unless we buy another ticket. And I am not talking about cellos; even violins in oblong cases are denied.
    I will be flying on a competitor in 2 weeks and I am shipping everything by FedEx to my hotel at the other end, for just this reason.

  • Mburrows

    Another compelling argument for UPS or FedEx.  Not that they do not occasionally damge items but I have never known them to weasel out of responsibility like airlines.  AND you do not have to wrestle with the items while traveling.

  • Mburrows

    I had not yet seen your comment before suggesting UPS or FedEx was a better choice than the airline.  MB

  • New mom

    I own the BOB stroller and protective case, and while the case is soft-sided, it is sturdy. There are specific instructions for how to disassemble your stroller and wedge and snap it in place in the bag for maximum protection (it’s kind of a pain, actually). We traveled with our BOB under a 60 lb suitcase in the car (yes, we paid extra for the weight at the airport) and then checked it and the soft-sided case protected it very well for the whole trip.

    From the description of this damage, it sounds like even a hard-sided stroller bag – which I have yet to see – would have been badly damaged. It just can’t withstand the weight of an airplane or the like running over it.

  • Geoff

    Smart travelers would know that they should have their home insurance set up a separate rider for such an expensive item. The airlines will never pay what you check. ie. Brand new clothing in a brand new suitcase with all receipts intact, you will be lucky to get 50%. For the second time today, where is Ralph Nader when we need him to take out the domestic airlines?

  • mburrows

    On the rare occasions I have to check luggage I use very strudy aluminum cases from Zero Halliburton or Pelican style cases.  These are also the cases I use to ship luggage.  The Halliburtons require factory refurb every ten years.  The Pelikan style cases only need an annual cleaning.  These are rarely damaged and would stand up to a crazed tug driver. I woould suggest the occasional family traveler packing items for ailine transport find very sturdy hard cases.  Used Halliburton cases Pelican style cases are on eBay for as little as $10.  These cases are all but bulletproof. 

  • Matt Marois

    a 700$ stroller? who in there right mind would spend that kind of money on a stroller? doesn’t justify what they did, by any means, but 700$? at that price id keep it home and get  a cheaper one for travel

  • DrPots

    Well, we had a jogging stroller destroyed by them on an international flight, for which they are liable under Montreal protocol. Did we get anywhere after a year of pursuing it? nope.