Vivian Polzin didn’t have a choice. A Delta Air Lines employee forced her to check a bag that contained a camera with priceless vacation snapshots. But when the carrier lost her camera, it had a choice — and it decided to hide behind its contract of carriage, which says it isn’t liable for electronic equipment in checked luggage.
Is the airline right? Technically, yes. Its Domestic General Rules Tariff is pretty clear:
Cameras, lenses, flash bulbs, projectors, video cameras, and other photographic or cinematographic equipment … may be accepted [as checked luggage] upon the condition that the passenger agree in advance and in writing to release the carrier of liability for loss or damage resulting from the unsuitability of such items as checked baggage and/or the inadequacy of their packaging, in a Limited Liability Release form to be provided by Delta.
Question is, did she sign that form?
About two minutes before we boarded our flight from New York to Detroit, someone from Delta came over and put a tag on my carry-on. She said I would have to leave it at the gate and they would give it back to me in Detroit. She said the plane was too small to accommodate my carry-on.
She did the same thing to many others. The last time I refused to give up my carry-on, I had a hard time getting it under my seat. So, I was very tired and just gave it up. I didn’t really have much time to think through it and because I had been lucky in the past when I gave up my carry-on, I didn’t worry about it too much.
So, no waiver.
When she discovered her camera was missing — apparently it had been pilfered either by ramp workers or inspectors — Delta cited its contract.
I filled out the form and mailed it on Oct.20. When I tried to talk to the representative at Delta about my camera loss, she said, they probably won’t cover it because they don’t cover cameras in checked luggage.
I explained that it was not checked luggage, it was my carry-on and I was forced to give it up when I entered the plane. I have tried to get information on my claim since then. I always hear the same response: “I can’t see the claim because you mailed it and didn’t fax it”.
I feel that I have been treated pretty lousy by Delta.
Polzin tried to contact Delta at a higher level to appeal the denial, but was ignored.
I think Delta should refund the camera that it forced her to check and for which it didn’t get a necessary waiver. Failing that, she should go to small claims court to recover the value of her camera.