Is this enough compensation? Refunded $800 for $2,500 worth of missing clothes

Leonard Henderson’s ski trip to Telluride, Colo., didn’t go as planned. US Airways lost his luggage and it stayed lost for the duration of the trip.

He had to buy new clothes, for which the airline promised to reimburse him, but when the time came for it to refund his purchases, US Airways balked. Henderson paid $2,500 for new gear, but the airline only covered $800.

Is that enough?

Henderson feels ripped off.

I feel like the tiny little guy versus the corporate giant. The airline will not give me an explanation of how they came up with the reimbursement figure $800.

My claims person, Pam, was by far the rudest person I have had to deal with when calling. I asked to speak with her manager and she said, “Hold please.” Minutes later she returned, to say her manager is with another customer.

So why would US Airways only repay Henderson for a portion of his luggage?

The airline “did an inventory” of his delayed luggage and told Henderson that it didn’t find the same or similar ski apparel for which he’d billed the airline. In other words, US Airways believed he was trying to take advantage of this opportunity to upgrade his outfit at the airline’s expense.

Henderson denies that. He claims US Airways only opened one bag to check its contents, and since he’d packed it for two people, the contents wouldn’t have reflected every item he had to purchase.

[US Airways’] inventory account is incomplete. But Pam said she didn’t take the inventory so she can only go by what the person wrote down. I asked her to read it verbatim and she said, “That’s all it says, sir.”

Henderson says that’s no way to treat a passenger, let alone one who was flying in first class.

If we were not on a ski trip, the cost to replace our items to prevent further delay would not have been nearly as expensive. Please understand, the location and environment both contributed greatly to the cost factor.

We exited the plane in Durango with nothing but the clothes on our backs, a hotel reservation, I.D., a carry-on backpack with our laptop and a credit card.

I’ve reviewed Henderson’s lengthy claim several times, and I can’t see anything that would suggest he’s trying to hit US Airways up for new ski clothes. His luggage was lost four days of a five-day ski trip.

But I’ve had similar cases – notably weddings, where a very expensive dress or tuxedo is misplaced, and a new one must be purchased quickly. Airlines are understandably reluctant to pay up then, too. (US Airways is liable for up to $3,300 per ticketed passenger under federal law.)

I think this situation might have been prevented through clearer communication between US Airways and Henderson. What, exactly, was he authorized to buy and when? If the airline wasn’t going to spring for the designer ski shop in Telluride, then what would it rubber-stamp? A ski jacket from Wal-Mart in Durango?

Then again, does US Airways have a point? Is $800 enough? I mean, Henderson has a brand-new outfit for next season. That’s gotta be worth something. Or is it?

(Photo: An actual image of the contents of Henderson’s luggage.)

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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  • Jeremy

    What does the contract of carriage state as to the carrier’s liability for delayed luggage? Is US Airways meeting their contractual obligation, and the the OP is just trying to get more out of them with the “I’ll take your business elsewhere” threat? It seems to me that typically the carriers have fairly limited liability – in that sense the $800 may be quite generous given that the bags did eventually turned. I think there would be other ways the OP could have done his part to reduce the bill below $2500- for instance he might be able to sell some of the gear now that his bags are returned. Or he might have been able to rent the gear in the first place instead of buying it, etc.

  • Absherlock

    The issue I’m dealing with is that the OP needs to be made whole as opposed to enriched by the airline. If he eventually got his luggage returned to him, he now has two of everything and that’s not fair. But at the same time, since the losing of the luggage was US Airways fault, it’s not fair that they get to determine the line between “made whole” and “enriched”.

    My solution would be for US Airways to give the OP the money he spent and for the OP to give to US Airways the non-perishable items he was required to buy. That way, the OP just has what he started with and US Airways has the opportunity to mitigate their damages by reselling the gear.

    Taking into account the amount of luggage that’s lost each year, if this admittedly facetious suggestion actually takes root, it could spur whole new divisions within the airlines (replacement reclaimation?)…

  • Crissy

    $800 for ski gear sounds kinda low especially for Telluride and for people that may not have many options for where they can shop. I used to ski and $2500 also sounds like they may have splurged a bit assuming that US Air was going to cover everything.

  • sirwired

    Well, it’s pretty obvious that US Air owes him the full $2,500. If they failed to take a full inventory, they failed to take a full inventory.

    I am curious though? Since the airline is paying for replacement gear (or eventually will) do they get to keep the luggage? I wouldn’t seem fair for the airline to pay for a complete set of brand new gear, and the writer still get to keep the old stuff.

    Just thought I would add that the fact he was flying first class is 100% irrelevant.

  • Raven

    How long was luggage delayed?

  • Gigglebelly

    Considering where he was going I have to agree that he was NOT reimbursed enough for the clothes. Look at who thew carrier is and realize that they have a long history of insufficient customer care and results.

  • Elizabeth Ann Smith

    According to the US Airways’ website, the liability is limited to $3300 per ticketed passenger. If I am reading correctly, above it says that Henderson “packed it for two people.” So is he asking to be reimbursed for $2500 for two passengers’ clothing/gear? If so, $1250 per person may not be that unreasonable since they had to purchase items for their entire trip (It says above “it stayed lost for the duration of the trip.”) I will add that their class of service has nothing to do with this situation. The liability is the same for coach or first class. It’s unfortunate that Mr. Henderson didn’t get anything in writing from US Airways about how much they would reimburse him.

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    “Henderson says that’s no way to treat a passenger, let alone one who was flying in first class.”
    – – – – – – – – — – –

    There is no first class (FC) service to Durango, CO (DRO) on US Airways metal. The metal are DH8 (de Havilland Dash 8…prop) and CRJ (Canadian Regional Jet – 5- seater) and there are no first class on these planes.

    The only flights to Durango, CO on US Airways metal is from Phoenix (PHX)…there are no flights from the other US Airways hubs of PHL and CLT.

    Unless the OP is from PHX, the OP flown FC from ‘XXX’ to PHX then coach from PHX to DRO.

    I think that US Airways did NOT offer enough compensation to the OP. However, red flag(s) pop(s) up when I find statement(s) by the OP in any articles that are inaccurate, incorrect, half-truth, etc. It makes me to believe that we are not getting the whole story.

  • Pat

    The luggage was delayed, not lost, and the story does not include how many days it was delayed. Based on the amount they want, it appears the person bought replacements, not what was need to get by until the luggage was returned. So I would have to side with US Airways (as much as I do not want to).

  • K.

    I agree that the length of delay and the exact promise that the US Air rep gave Henderson are the keys here. Ski clothing is expensive, even when rented; I just looked up a quick quote, and excluding socks and long underwear (which cannot be rented but are necessary), it’s $87 per day per person. There is also no guarantee that the gear that you need will be available on a last-minute basis.

    I’ve had a similar experience; my bags were returned to me 30 days after initial travel, and the airline balked at the high replacement cost for ski gear. In most towns, there is no discount supplier; you may not have transportation to get there even if there is a Walmart; and since there is no guarantee that you will ever see your gear again, you don’t want to buy a low-quality, short-life piece of equipment.

  • Clara K. Showalter

    Given that a quality ski jacket alone runs around $200, I find US Air’s number suspect. Two ski jackets at $200 a pop is half the amount right there. Add in pants and right there you are up to around $600-$800. That’s not even including normal wear clothing, appropriate long undies, helmets, gloves, and so on. If he’s there in the middle of ski season, the prices are even higher.

  • Christopher Elliott

    The delay was four days, and Henderson was in Telluride a total of five days. I’ve added it to the story.

    In terms of US Airways’ promises, they gave him a form but it didn’t specifically assure him of any compensation.

  • Alex

    $2500 for ski gear for 2 people? In Telluride? Sounds like a deal to me!

  • Guest

    the article says the luggage was lost for the duration of the trip. It was found and returned to him eventually but not until after his trip was completed. I’ve also had that happen (with US Airways as well). They didn’t load the plane with ANY luggage and while I did eventually get my luggage back I got it back after I had already returned home from my long weekend trip.

    And he was going skiing, you need certain items for a ski vacation. Could they have sat in their room all day and only bought jeans and some t shirts? Yes but they were there to ski and therefore needed skiing gear. Why should they change their plans to try to save US Airways money?

  • Guest

    Article says “for the duration of the trip”. If it was 3 days or 10 days they didn’t have their luggage for their entire trip.

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    My questions are:

    1. How bags were delayed?

    2. When did his luggage arrived? During his trip? After his trip?

    3. Was his ‘delayed’ luggage returned to him? Or is it the property of US Airways now?

    4. Could he rented some of the ski gear instead of buying?

    5. Did the OP received in written from US Airways what he could purchase, etc? Was there some guidelines?

    6. Did the OP purchased a designer ski jacket and he had a wal-mart ski-jacket.

  • Jfnason

    I’m still trying to figure out why a person in first class should be treated any differently than someone who didn’t. Should I assume that if he had flown coach, he would have only received $500.00?

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    1. How many bags were delayed?

    7. Were all of the bags checked under the OP name or were they checked between him and his traveling companion.

    Again, I think that US Airways did NOT offer enough compensation to the OP; however, I would like to know the facts to see how much additional compensation is required.

  • Pat

    That was not in the story when I commented on it.

  • Christopher Elliott

    Pat, I updated the story to say the bags were lost four out of the five days. But that’s the only change I’ve made to the text this morning.

  • Elizabeth Ann Smith

    #2 Chris updated the story and posted below: “The delay was four days, and Henderson was in Telluride a total of five days.” In the story itself, it says, “It stayed lost for the duration of the trip.” So it appears he and his travel companion were without clothing/ski gear for four days. #5, Chris addressed below: “In terms of US Airways’ promises, they gave him a form but it didn’t specifically assure him of any compensation.”

  • cjr001

    There’s the possibility that the OP is overvaluing his stuff. But since it was ski gear, it seems unlikely. Good ski equipment isn’t cheap.

    It’s no surprise that the airline would completely undervalue his stuff. But then, its readily apparent that the only thing they care about when it comes to luggage these days is how much of a profit they can make on it.

    If they’d stop losing luggage, they’d stop having to pay these kinds of claims.

  • DavidS

    The first class statement has no bearing in my mind. First class customers get more perks and more attentive service in flight, during check in and boarding…but good customer service should be extended to everyone.

    Even if they rented ski gear and purchased underwear and such, $800 is not enough for two for the duration of the trip. (But they may have a better case to argue had they rented!)

    I would still pursue it but, unfortunately, not expect to get everything.

  • Arizona Road Warrior

    $ 87 per day x 2 person x 4 days = $ 698 plus the costs for non-rental items. You are right that gear may not be available but I read in our local newspaper and the USA Today that skiing was down a lot in CO compared to Vermont/the Northeast for this past ski season.

    What if the OP purchased $ 2,500 on their first day and the bags were returned on the second day? What is the US Airways’ policy on delayed bags? On one hand, you don’t want people to miss out on their vacation. On the other hand, you don’t want people to be double dipping. Is there a time limit? A policy to rent certain gears instead of buying?

  • Pat

    Knowing now the number days the bags were missing, it still does not change my opinion. The $2500 amount sounds just too high. The $800 might be too low, but it is a lot closer to what might be fair. For that amount of money it appears they bought new clothes for each day and did not worry about cost. They did not try to make due in a bad situation. Buy reasonably prices clothes to wear until the luggage was found and getting them washed mid vacation instead of buying new each day. If they did that and it was still $2500, I would then change my mind.

  • cjr001

    “not what was need to get by until the luggage was returned”

    And how were they supposed to know when the luggage was going to be returned? The same day? Before the end of their trip? Next month? Never?

    Were I in the OPs situation, I would have also bought replacements on the presumption that my luggage might never be returned to me.

    The airline needs to provide full compensation.

  • Amanda

    Arizona, I’m not sure where you read that, but this has been one of the best ski seasons on record in Colorado.

  • BillC

    I really don’t know how much ski clothing would cost but I think I could dress myself for four days on $800.00. It appears that the Airline believes that he wanted to upgrade his wardrobe at thier expense. There is no way to know from the story whether the inventory was correct or not.

    As far calling the claims person rude, what is it that she did? She said the manager was busy and that the inventory she read him was the only information she had. I do not see how this was rude. IMHO though I think the rudeness went the other way.

  • K.

    $698 plus long underwear ($75 x 2) plus socks ($15 x2 if they wash it out each night). Then should they wear the same after-ski clothes every day for the week? I have been in this situation. After washing out your underwear for 3 nights, always wondering if your luggage will arrive the next day, hoping that it will dry by morning, you are just ticked and don’t care if your replacement underwear costs $50. I am sure they spent vacation time every day checking with an uncaring airline luggage rep who told them they didn’t know where the luggage was or when it would arrive. Plus they spent time shopping for replacements instead of being out on the mountain.

  • Guest

    Ski clothes are expensive (it’s one of the reasons I don’t ski). You need layers and good gear to keep you warm all day. Pants alone can run you a couple hundred, then you need the jacket, the gloves, the googles, the hat, layers underneath, the socks, it all adds up pretty quickly. Could you find it cheaper than at a ski resort? Sure but should you have to rent a car and spend part of your vacation running around trying to find gear on sale because the airline lost your gear?

    $2500 for 2 people is not that much when it’s ski gear and other clothes, they do need something to change into and wear around.

    I also agree with someone below who said that you should operate on the fact that you may never get your luggage back. Why should you replace a North Face jacket with a WalMart jacket to make do because US Airways lost your luggage? What if they never find it and you’re stuck with the crap jacket instead of something comparable to what you had?

  • Jjweldon

    For all the people who are saying they could dress yourself for much less are not seeing the specifics. They are in a resort town and probably had specialized clothing. Have you ever been to a resort town and gone clothes shopping? The cost of things usually has a multiplier of many times.

  • Clare

    One thing that needs to be kept in mind here is that the poster and his companion didn’t exactly have time to go shopping around town for the best-priced deals, you know? They undoubtedly wasted a lot of time as it is, trying to buy things that they needed, and that was time that they had reasonably expected to spend SKIING, not bargain-hunting. If I had all the time in the world, I could drive around and find (e.g.) a Target that’s running a sale instead of a Macy’s that isn’t, and buy my underwear there; but if I’m on a trip, am probably without a car, don’t know the neighborhood, AND am in a hurry, I’ll pay full-price at Macy’s and be done with it!

    It’s therefore not reasonable to blame the OP for spending “too much,” which is a subjective valuation anyway. If he had spent, say, $5,000, and the airline was only willing to give him the $3,300 written in their policy, that would be an entirely different story.

    This sounds like a very black-and-white case to me. US Airways has a policy, and they arbitrarily are refusing to honor it. They didn’t tell the OP that in advance they were going to refuse to honor it, so he naturally assumed that they would. Yet another reason to hate US Airways, as if there weren’t enough already…

  • Beachglassandseastars

    Jacket, pants, socks, ski gloves, shirt, Patagonia type long johns top/bottom, hat, 1 pr jeans, 2 shirts for non-ski time. Easily $700-$800 each and that’s thinking Seattle and REI, not Telluride and the pricey stores there. $2500 might be high but $800 for two is way, way too low.

  • Pat

    If the luggage was lost, the airline would be responsible for the costs to get by while on vacation and replacement of the lost items. I feel the person took advantage of the situation and I am not hearing the complete story from the person.

  • Guest

    Pat what would you have done? Your luggage was lost and you don’t know when you’ll be getting it. You’re in a resort ski town and there to ski, you likely already have your (very pricey) lift tickets. What would you have bought to “get by” for the 4 days? Would you be ok with the fact that your “get by” items might be replacing the items that you had originally bought and packed? Would you be ok with spending a day of your vacation running around trying to get the lowest possible price on things?

  • Nancy Marine Dickinson

    After reading most of the comments here, I have to say I’m agreeing with most of the posters.

    The OP’s clothes, as well as those of his traveling companion, were lost for the duration of the trip; they didn’t even have underclothes. Had the luggage shown up almost immediately, I might side with US Air, as the OP would have had the opportunity to return purchased items. However, the luggage was gone for four days of a five day trip. Certainly people can’t be expecting the OP and company to spend their entire vacation in a towel?

    US Air told them to replace what they brought, they did, US Air didn’t pony up. If the inventory taken by “another employee” didn’t include everything, my guess is “another employee” did a little shopping of their own from the OPs suitcase. It’s not uncommon for something like this to happen. As a military family, we’ve had things stolen from our household goods when moving. The response from the moving company is NEVER “Lets find the thief” but “Oh, well, you’re insured through the government.”

  • Wrona

    So they lost 2 people’s bags, but expect to only pay $800 total for not having use of them for 5 days. Then no $800 is not enough compensation.

  • ohtravelgal

    It might not seem fair that the OP has two of everything. But, he was on a trip and the airline lost his luggage for several days. What is he to do?

    Since the airline finally got his luggage to him on the last day of his trip, he should now be out the addtional money it cost him to replace the items he was forced to purchase? I’m sure he had to purchase them at a premium too as he was forced to buy them there in the ski resort town.

    I take the other stance – it’s not fair that the OP didn’t receive his bag until the last day of his trip. It’s not fair that he had to spend his vacation time replacing all of the items that were lost instead of enjoying the ski resort. It’s not fair that he had to spend his own money to replace items that he had already purchased and wouldn’t have needed if the airline hadn’t lost his bag in the first place. So now he should just sit back and eat the additional $1700 because he has some new items?

    What vacation have you been on where you wouldn’t have minded spending an unplanned $1700?

  • ohtravelgal

    So Pat, next time the airline loses your luggage for several days, I hope you post about the time you spend washing out your underwear and socks in the sink so you can save the airline the cost of replacing it for you.

  • ohtravelgal

    CJR – right on. What were they supposed to do – go shopping each day buying just one outfit for the day?

  • Pat

    I am not a skier but I am a golfer and travel to golf resorts. And neither sport is cheap to do. I would have gone to the front desk of the resort and ask them for someone that could help with the situation. I would expect them to rent items that can be rented and drive me to stores were I could pick up items I could not rent. This would not have been the first person that arrived with missing luggage. Good resorts have people that can help the guest deal with that situation. When resorts provide that help, guests remember that and return for future visits.

  • Absherlock

    I don’t think you understood what I said. He should get the money he spent, but the airline should get back the things that he bought. Yeah, he has to deal with the aggravtion of them losing his luggage but, unfortunately, that’s one of the risks of flying these days.

    Oh, he should also be repayed any fees he paid the airline to transport the luggage they lost. That goes without saying.

  • Pat

    Most resorts and hotels have laundry service. That would be part of help I would expect to get from the resort plus that would be an expense you bill the airline. Based on the comments I am receiving I guess I am one of the few people left that feels that you deal with the situation as best you can. And I am not entitled to replace everything to make it as if my luggage was not delayed.

  • Guest

    but you ARE entitled to replace your things! That is the kicker. I’ve lost luggage before, heck I had US Airways lose my luggage 3 flights in a row! And each time my luggage was lost for more than 24 hours I was told I had $X amount of money to spend for daily expenses. Thankfully I was just giong to visit relatives for short trips and did not require special gear or fancy clothing. A friend’s bag was lost last year when she was flying in for a wedding. The airline gave her a lot more money because she had to buy a dress and shoes and makeup while her husband had to buy a suit.

    I do understand what you’re saying. You think that maybe the guy had a cheap WalMart jacket and he replaced it with something NorthFace. Maybe he did but maybe that’s what was available locally. If you look at the photo with the post it doesn’t look like he bought THAT much, the issue was likely the area is very expensive. That Telluride t shirt alone was likely $30.

  • Pat

    Actually if he had a North Face jacket he would buy a no name jacket to use until the luggage was found. And if the luggage the was declared lost, he then could then replace it with a new North Face jacket. If it is a wedding and luggage was lost or missing until after the wedding is over, the airline needs to do what they can to not spoil the wedding day.

    Bottom line, you have to give the airline a chance to find and return the luggage and you do what you need to do to get by while they search for the luggage. If they end up not finding the luggage, you then can replace with equivalent items to what was lost.

  • Jamiru

    I’m an avid skiier and had Delta lost my bag on my Salt Lake City trip this year, here’s what I would have been out:
    Mountain Hardware Monkey Fleece jacket (worn as mid-layer) $150
    Smartwool leggings (base layer) $75
    Smartwool crewneck (base layer top) $75
    Marmot ski pants $150
    Burton jacket $300
    Smartwool socks $20
    Under Armor sports bra $35
    Zeal goggles $200
    Giro helmet $140
    Burton gloves $60

    And that’s not including my apres ski clothing or the multiples of things I pack (base layers) since stuff gets sweaty and often doesn’t dry overnight. Given what I wear, his $2500 seems about on the money. And while some of this equipment might be able to be purchased on sale (although as many pointed out the “on sale” prices in Telluride might not be much of a savings).

    My guess is that the US Airways employee who did the inventory knew nothing about skiing, what gear typically costs, or what reasonable replacement value gear would be. Since his claim is still within what US Airways is liable for, I think they should pay up.

  • Zod

    I don’t think that the airlines should pay replacement value…I think that they should be paying the maximum for *EACH AND EVERY BAG THEY LOOSE* Simple as that…it would sure solve lost bag issues! If Every lost bag costs the airline $3k+, then there would be (1) a sense of urgency to find and deliver the bag no matter what the cost (it would surely be less than $3k) and (2) would be an incentive to not misplace the bag in the first place! The lost bag fee would be punitive more than anything else, and this is what is needed to keep the airlines from behaving in this lackadaisical approach!

  • Marla

    So Pat, your way is to buy a cheap Walmart jacket, then if the luggage is never returned go out again and buy an actual replacement for what he had – and I presume he should only bill the airline for the cheap jacket while coughing up himself for the replacement jacket he never should have had to buy? Or bill would you bill the airline for both?
    He bought replacement clothes for the entire trip, which he was entitled to do. If the luggage was returned after 1 day lost, he could have returned the stuff he didn’t use and only bill the airline for the items used. However, since the luggage was lost for almost the entire trip, he obviously had to use most, if not all of the items purchased.
    He should not have had to “give the airline a chance to find and return the luggage”. He had to rush out and get what they needed to enjoy their vacation. That is what airlines need to keep in mind – they are often transporting people to vacation destinations.
    And, by the way, if they had to replace their ski gear, they would have needed all of those items from day 1. Its not like they could have bought the jacket on the first day, then when the luggage still wasn’t returned, go out and get the pants the next day, then the helmet and goggles the the third day.

  • DJP

    While I have not skied at Telluride, I am not sure what the expenses are.

    First thought…I need a bit more detailed accounting of his expenses.

    How hard would it have been to rent eqipment instead of buy equiopment?

    I wonder what the cost was to delay his travel vs buy new equipment

    How long was the equipment actually lost for? Did it come to Durango the next day where he could have waited for it? Then to make up of rhis travel headache, USAairways reimburses him for expenses.

  • Marla

    I think you should probably go back and read through some of the earlier responses.

  • Heather

    The airline had time, and lots of it to locate the bag. They failed to get it to it’s destination for the majority of the trip and thus are responsible for the affect it had on the traveller.

    I don’t know about most people, but I like having clean undies etc everyday and they usually don’t rent clothing out so you have to buy it. As for the price resort town = resort prices on items that were expensive to begin with. Do you really think if they lost it and it wasn’t returned and he had bought a no name jacket that they would offer more money to replace the actual brand name jacket or the cost difference between the two? I don’t think so. Also as to the laundry service they had no clothes besides the ones they wore so unless they bought new clothes they’d be running around in bathrobes provided they even had them.

  • Carrie Charney

    Absherlock is right. The replacement items should be paid for by US Airways and returned to the airline in return for the now-found luggage, assuming nothing us missing or damaged. US Airways then resells the merchandise in Alabama, e-Bay, or wherever…

  • Aaron W

    $2500 in ski gear and clothing for 2 people sounds high, but not unreasonable for a 5 day trip. It’s also less than 40% of what US Airways is contractually on the hook for.

    If US Airways had a different number in mind, it should have informed the passengers of that when the airline lost the bags.

    That said, if this passenger is so well-heeled that he can fly first-class to Telluride with $2,500 in gear, then he’s got enough cash to hire an attorney to file his small claims paperwork for him and take US Airways to court for the rest of the money he’s owed.

  • DJP

    Pat….have you ever been to any ski resort town…eith Telluride, Vail, or any other during ski season?

    I am assuming no.

    They dont have walmarts or targets there or say sports authority or dicks sporting goods stores there to get equpment on the cheap.

    These places have top of the line retailers who charge a LOT for equipment or clothing.

    I dont know what all he had to replace. If what he lost was ski equipment and not just regular clothing then it will be expensive to replace.

    I do agree that if the luggage was found and they were told to wait till tomorrow for the Luggage…and USAIRWAYS would reimburse them for expenses lost that would have been a fair trade. It sounds as if the luggage missed the flight connection in Phoenix.

    The fact is USAirways generally only has at most 2 flights to Durango from Phoenix each day. USAirways HQ is in Phoenix where many there dont ski so they have no idea of the expenses.

  • Guest

    Is he “well heeled” though? For all you know he upgraded or paid for the first class flight with miles. And $2500 in gear for 2 people ($1250 each) isn’t really that much. Someone above gave a list of the stuff they take on a ski trip and the price of this stuff is high, it adds up fast.

    He shouldn’t have to fly back to Wyoming and pay for a flight and a hotel and meals, etc to get what he’s owed, they should pay him now.

  • Pat

    OK people we are going to have agree that we disagree.

    Bottom line is I believe there are two levels on how things are reimbursed. If my bag does not arrive, I am entitled to get what I need to make due until it arrives, not replacement of what was in the bag. If the luggage is then lost, you are entitled to replace what was in the bag that was lost. Two different reimbursement situations.

    When my bag did not arrive with me I got reasonably priced clothes to wear to my client. When I explained to clients why I was not in suit and tie, they understood. I had to buy two days of clothes and each morning I gave the previous day’s clothes to the hotel to launder. When I got back in the evening, they were ready for the next day. It was not the best situation but it worked out. And the airline paid for it all. One time I had to buy a discounted golf shoes to wear instead of the expensive leather golf shoes I had in my luggage. It is not what I expected when I started out, but I got by.

    Also you have to remember next time you complain about airfares, part of the reason is because people with missing luggage are expecting replacement of what was in the luggage instead of making due. That cost is passed on to the price of the ticket.

  • Mark K

    It is interesting that the US Airways liability page says they are not responsible “for the loss of, damage to, or delay in: ” EQUIPMENT among other things. So, does the gear required to ski fall under the generic Equipment category at US Air? If it does, this could explain why the payment was so low. After you take out the ski jackets, ski pants, helmets, ski gloves and anything else that could be considered equipment for skiing, maybe all that was left was $800 worth of purchases. While this may be an over generalization of what is meant by Equipment, it is most likely what was used to determine what was owed. And that is not good when you are then stuck on a ski trip and as a result of the delayed luggage have none of the necessary gear so you can’t ski.

  • K.

    I think it’s more likely that boots, skis, poles, and maybe helmets are considered equipment, while long underwear, socks, jackets, pants, goggles, gloves are considered clothing.

  • K.

    I think it’s more likely that boots, skis, poles, and maybe helmets are considered equipment, while long underwear, socks, jackets, pants, goggles, gloves are considered clothing.

  • flutiefan

    where on god’s green earth does long underwear cost $75?!

  • K.

    You may call it something else, but a bottom layer that won’t leave you wet and shivering after 30 minutes is a must for skiing. Performance clothes cost a lot, but they keep you warm and last for many years. I’m not talking about the red cotton long johns with a drop seat! :-)

  • flutiefan

    while i believe the OPs upgraded their wares, USAirways needs to reimburse what is customary, reasonable, and usual for the average prices in the area. they never gave them a specific dollar amount, which leads me to believe that the OPs just assumed full coverage and reimbursement. we all know what happens when you assume…

  • Rr32926

    They owe him the FULL amount. THEY caused the problem- THEY lost the luggage initially. THEY delayed it. THEY delivered it after. THEY ruined his vacation. Unless it has happened to you, you cannot understand it. I have had luggage lost — at the end of a vacation, and it was also damaged, and all the clothes were damaged….and it was upsetting because the clothes were expensive, but at least my trip was OVER, and oh well, that is life.
    But I also had luggage lost at the Beginning of a vacation- my first trip to Italy, and 18 months later, I am still fighting with Alitalia (DONT FLY ALITALIA) over this. They returned my lost luggage after 1 week, at the end of my ruined “vacation.” I spend the first day trying to find replacement items, missing connections….they lost ALL my luggage and they still owe me most of the money. So, yes, bottom line, if the airline loses your luggage; delays it – THEY ruin your vacation, they need to take responsibility and PAY UP.

  • Andi330

    Well, I’m probably going to get slammed for my opinion, but here it is.

    This complaint reads to me as if the OP replaced everything in his luggage as soon as they got to the resort (or on the way there). I don’t think that you’re entitled to do that. I went to the US Airways baggage page, and here’s what it says,

    “When waiting for your delayed baggage, ask a baggage representative to inform you of the reimbursement guidelines before purchasing essential items. We’ll consider reimbursement for reasonable items such as toiletries while you’re waiting for us to return your property.

    If your bags have not been located and returned within 5 days, mail or fax the Passenger Property Form to the Central Baggage Resolution Office. For reimbursement consideration, please send your receipts to this address.”

    Nowhere in the article, does it indicate what the customer was told he could purchase while waiting for his delayed luggage. Did he even ask? Or did he just assume that he could spend up to the $3,300 per person (which appears to me to be only in the case of luggage that is never found, not delayed luggage). You don’t get to file that form he’s referring to until at least 5 days have passed without your luggage being located. This indicates to me, that the higher reimbursement doesn’t take effect until the airline has decided that it won’t (or that it’s unlikely) to find your luggage at all.

    Additionally, if you read the form on the US Airways page, you see that it’s not as simple as claiming that certain things were in your bags, and then getting money for them. Anything over $150 and the airline requires an original receipt before they will pay up (and I know, I personally don’t have receipts for everything I own, even the stuff over $150).

    I’m not a frequent flyer (if I fly round-trip more than once a year I’ve been really busy), but there are some things I do know. Approximately 50% of the time I get on a plane, the airline loses my luggage. Maybe I’m special, I’m sure the industry claims that luggage delays are much less frequent than that but that’s been my personal experience. If you are checking a bag, you should assume it will be delayed. It’s not fair. You’re paying extra to check that bag, but it’s reality. The OP indicates that neither he nor his traveling companion had any changes of clothes with them when they got off the plane. This was poor planning on their end. You should always carry on any medicines you need, anything expensive you are bringing (that is not required to be checked), and at least one change of clothes. That way you have two days worth of walking around clothes with you in case your luggage is delayed.

    I’m not a big skier (it’s too expensive for one), but I know replacing all that ski gear would be expensive. It’s true, their bags were missing for most of their trip, but then, they did get all of their stuff back. Why should the airline pay for them to replace everything? If nothing else, if the airlines payed to replace everything in a person’s luggage every time a bag was delayed, we’d be paying a lot more for checked bag fees, or base fares would be much higher to cover the potential losses. And having worked for customer service (in a different industry) for 6 years, I can tell you that if you make an exception for one person, they’ll tell people. It’s great publicity, “Oh yay! Us Airways replaced all my clothes even though I got my bag back isn’t it great!” But once you’ve done it once, everyone will want it, in fact they’ll expect it, and that’s how a business ends up going under.

  • Carver

    I think you are misunderstanding the contract. It appears you are saying that in order to be reimbursed the OP must wait five days before making any purchases. That is not correct.

    You can always make whatever purchases you want. However, if the bags are located and returned before the five days is up, your purchases do not qualify for reimbursement and you may find yourself stuck with unanticipated expenses. Thus the various admonitions.

    Thus the safest course of action would be to wait five days. However, that would ruin the OPs vacation. Thus the OP chose to gamble, i.e. purchase replacement items. If the bags were located before five days then the OP would have to figure out his own finances. However, as the bags were not located within 5 days, then the OP is entitled to make a claim for the purchased items.

    As to the OP not having a change of clothes, that’s neither here nor there.

    As far as replacing items, the reason why the airline must pay is because the OP is out $2500.00 that he wouldn’t have had to spend had the airlines not lost his bags. Presumably he can’t return what was purchased as its been used for a good week. Technically, the airline could probably keep the found items but I doubt if they want his used stuff.

    But note, the airline only has to pay if the bags are lost for 5 days or more in which case its reasonable that the bags will never be found.

  • Andi330

    That’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that the way it reads is that you don’t just get to replace everything in your luggage on the airline’s dime as soon as it appears to have been delayed. And I don’t think you do. Yes, you can go buy some essentials. That’s why the airline’s site says to ask at the airport about their specific policy for buying essentials while your luggage is delayed. It does not say that you can just go replace everything that was in your checked bags. You have to give the airline time to find it and return it to you. In addition, the airline’s form for lost baggage does specifically state that for anything over $150 being replaced you have to have an original proof of purchase (like a receipt) showing you actually owned the lost item and what it cost you to purchase it.

    When you spend a ton of money on replacements right away, you are running the risk of not getting fully reimbursed, because the airline may find your luggage during the time frame in which they don’t have to pay. Such is life. That’s why (especially when traveling somewhere expensive) you should plan on your luggage being lost. There are bags that are small enough to carry on to a plane that could easily hold a couple of changes of clothes and 1 ski suit. You couldn’t get 5 days worth of ski clothes in there, but enough that you could get by without having to pay $2500 for clothes while you wait for the airline to deliver your luggage, even if you did have to buy a second ski suit to alternate while one drys out.

    I’m a big proponent of customers taking some responsibility for themselves. These customers did not plan for lost luggage. It’s probably something they think they shouldn’t have to do. But if you know anything at all about flying, you know there is the possibility that luggage will be lost when traveling. Just a little better planning would have saved this customer some hassle. (And some money.)

  • Jamiru

    I’m not trying to jump all over you, but if you look at my ski wear breakdown in an earlier post, just replacing one day of ski clothing (and that doesn’t include boots/poles/skis) would put me at approximately the amount the OP was claiming. So I seriously doubt he was trying to cash in on the airline’s dime.

    You do raise what would normally be a great suggestion, carry on a day’s worth of clothes, and normally I’m hyper-vigilant about doing so (I’ve had bags lost too). But the logistics of packing for a ski vacation or any sports-intensive vacation that requires a lot of gear (kayaking, camping, etc) puts you at a huge disadvantage on the packing front. In order for my husband and I to get our boots/skis/snowboards and several days worth of clothes packed in such a way that maximizes space and protects our gear, we actually pack our clothes AROUND our skis/board. If you’ve ever seen the way some airports handle them, you’d understand why (and I’m sure Chris will take up a case about broken skis someday….). So taking a bag of clothes for one day sometimes isn’t the most convenient/feasible option.

    That said, I do realize when we do that we are rolling the dice. But I also think that the restrictions on claiming reimbursement for lost/delayed bags are highly stacked against the average traveller, and it becomes even worse when you’ve got a lot of specialized gear and are going on a vacation dedicated to the use of said gear. That’s why I hope Chris will continue to publicize these cases–especially when airlines are charging for checked bags. They need to do better on this front.

  • Michael Szabo

    If your going to nitpick and say that he should give the items back to the airline (and I fully agree with you here). I do believe that the airline would need to compensate for the time spent shopping for the items. I wouldn’t be too suprised in that case if the shopping time costs equal the resale value of used clothing the airline recieves, considering the items may have been bought at a premium at a resort (and the low resale value of clothing).

    Considering the hassle factor the airline is absolutely in the right to do this but probably should refrain due to the hassle factor for the customer.

  • Carver


    I must be missing something in your post. Let’s deconstruct

    “What I’m saying is that the way it reads is that you don’t just get to replace everything in your luggage on the airline’s dime as soon as it appears to have been delayed’

    No one is saying that if the luggage is delayed you get to replace everything. We are saying that is only true of its delayed 5 days or more.

    “You have to give the airline time to find it and return it to you.”

    Yes, five days.

    “When you spend a ton of money on replacements right away, you are running the risk of not getting fully reimbursed, because the airline may find your luggage during the time frame in which they don’t have to pay. ”

    Yes, and that’s the risk the OP took. For each day he waits he cannot make full use of his vacation. Personally, I would have done the same thing. I’m not letting lost luggage ruin my vacation, business trip, etc. I’ll make my necessary purchases to effect the purpose of my travel and if I get reimbursed great, if not, well, now I have double items.

    “I’m a big proponent of customers taking some responsibility for themselves”

    How about being a proponent of the airlines taking some responsibility for not delivering the bags on time?

    “There are bags that are small enough to carry on to a plane that could easily hold a couple of changes of clothes and 1 ski suit.” Which has nothing to do with whether the airline is liable for the lost items.

  • Rr32926

    But when do you think is an appropriate time? As the clock is ticking away on your “vacation” that you have planned for, waited for, and in some cases, worked all year, and waited for…and here it is…and now…you are on this “vacation” without any of your luggage. You are suggesting that they just “wait”… until “maybe” the airline “finds” it…but what if they dont? And until then, perhaps waste your “vacation” running around trying to find bargains….because that IS how you planned to spend your “vacation.” You mention “better planning.” I “planned” so well and they STILL lost my luggage. I put copies of my itinerary, copies of my id, double tagged my luggage, I did all the “right” things……..didnt matter, they still lost my luggage. And when you are in a foreign country and you dont speak the language and it is snowing and you dont have boots or the proper clothing, YOU NEED to buy clothes, and it is really difficult to find CHEAP clothes in Milan (that is where my luggage was lost), so I tried really hard to spend very little on my replacement clothes and I travelled to Parma, and it still cost a lot of money to buy toiletries, makeup, clothing, boots and shoes because they lost it ALL. Hotels in Europe dont give you toiletries at the hotels. I had to buy everything. I was told I would be reimbursed if I kept my receipts but I am still fighting 18 month later, so what would you say to me? Tough luck? NO, the correct answer is: the airlines need to pay up– in his case and in mine, and the airlines, in general need to do a better job handling luggage. Instead of making excuses for them, you should be asking why they are so irresponsible and why they are still allowed to get away with it.

  • Cheryl

    I don’t see anyone here commenting on the cost of the skis, boots, and poles or snowboard and boots!!! If they are skiers, the cost could easily hit $500 per person no problem!!! And if anyone has priced long underwear or googles, they are not cheap either! $2500 for 2 people is not gouging anyone!

  • Joelw

    Many years ago American lost the bage containing my ski clothing while on the way to Steamboat Springs. This apparently not an unusual occurence as I was directed to a local ski shop where I was able to rent most of what I needed. In truth, the one-piece suit I got was nicer than my own. When my luggage finally showed up I retruned all the rented items except the new goggles, which I was told to take to the airport on my return. I offered them to the agent but was told that they had so many that I should just keep them. USAirways should have a similar arrangement in Telluride because there are no nearby options to replace ski clothing. The closest town of any size is about 50 miles away and without a car would be hard to get to and would eat up another day of the OP’s trip. Given today’s prices, $2500 is not at all unreasonable.

  • Carver

    Just read the CoC and the other posts. The OP is entitled the reasonable value after 5 days. Whatever happens after 5 days, e.g. the luggage is found, is irrelevant.

  • Dan

    I think many commenters are overlooking something from the article. This is the source of the discrepancy:


    The airline “did an inventory” of his delayed luggage and told Henderson
    that it didn’t find the same or similar ski apparel for which he’d
    billed the airline.


    I don’t see any purpose in arguing about whether the airline or the traveler is morally responsible or whether the traveler should have rented vs. purchasing replacements or whether the traveler should have waited longer or the airline should be punished. Those are all distractions.

    The only question is this: Were the replacement items comparable to what was in his delayed luggage or not? Of course he should not replace Wal-mart gear with North Face or the other way around, but why are we all just guessing and speculating?

    Let’s see the receipts for the new stuff and compare with the inventory of the old stuff. And if he disputes the veracity of the inventory, let’s see pictures of the old stuff.

  • Cleome

    I would say the airline needs to suck it up and pay the bill. First off, you can’t expect someone to be able to find brand new replacements on short notice that match the value of existing used items in their luggage. Second, how much of their short vacation did these people have to waste shopping? They probably wouldn’t have even been able to go to their hotel and go to bed that night without getting supplies and clothing first.

  • fran

    hello! i have a question. avianca lost my backpack worth 1,800 dollars.from columbia to new york. by the time it reached new york i was in greece. so they sent it over there with british ariways and it was lost again. it was never found this was in march. now they are trying to compensate me only with 300 dollars. just the backpack is worth that. the check in person had put in 8 kilos which it was certainly at least 12 and they are now just multiplying the kilos. how in the world does that work? who can i talk to? the lady that is handling my case is really unhelpful.