If American Airlines promises to pay for a new jacket, they will. That is what Leonard Demers thought.
But he learned that sometimes it takes a little nudge, sometimes it takes a lot of prodding, and sometimes it takes a call from a consumer advocate to get American to live up to their promises.
Demers flew on American Airlines from Boston to Washington, D.C. to make a presentation at a conference for the American Academy of Pediatrics. His suit jacket was placed in an overhead bin in the first class cabin. When he retrieved his jacket from the bin, it was soaked with beer.
Demers was headed to a meeting and did not have time to get his jacket dry-cleaned, but it would have been bad form for him to go to a meeting on pediatrics wearing a wet jacket that reeked of beer. He was told by agents from American Airlines that he could buy a new jacket and they would reimburse him for the cost.
He actually got this promise in writing with the cryptic message, “Pax#s suit jacket damaged/wet. No fault of his own… called baggage serv and advs that AA will reimburse for the new suit jacket with receipt and he has to fill out the claim.”
Despite his written claim, American failed to respond to his claim for over six weeks. When they did respond, it was with a form letter that suggested that the incident was a minor spill and that he should have his jacket cleaned.
He had several emails with a customer relations agent. He responded:
Your reply to my issue, caused by AA, is very disingenuous at best and repulsive at worst.
First, it’s taken over six weeks to respond to my request for reimbursement. In the meantime, I have had to pay for an issue that was caused by AA and now you are telling me I have to eat the cost.
Second, either your response was a generic response or you did not read what I had to do. I had to present at a NATIONAL CONFERENCE and had no time to get my jacket dry cleaned. I had no choice but to purchase a suit coat (because of AA’s fault).
Third, this was not a “spillage” – my jacket was soaked with alcohol and it reeked with a horrendous smell!
Please reimburse me for the cost of a new jacket ($356.16) that I was compelled to buy because of AA’s fault.
American Airlines has specific policies for damaged baggage, but it does not have any specific policies for items in the passenger cabin which are damaged by the flight crew or the airline’s negligence, such as when beer spills in the overhead bin.
We’re also left to wonder how the heck beer got into the overhead compartment. Neither American nor Demers had a clue.
When he felt that his claim was falling on deaf ears, Demers contacted us and our advocates contacted American Airlines. Once he sent the jacket to American, he was reimbursed $356 to replace his ruined suit jacket.
It shouldn’t require a call from a consumer advocate for American Airlines to do the right thing. But since it does, we should be glad we have advocates working for us.