Playing the blame game after luggage goes missing

By | February 26th, 2016

Brian Flannery isn’t asking for much. The Missouri travel agent flew to Easter Island for business and his luggage didn’t arrive when he did. It showed up nine days late.

When he asked for compensation for $250 in clothes and toiletries he had to purchase, his airlines started to do what they do best: They played the the blame game.

They’re responsible. No they’re responsible!

Now he wants to know if, after one airline lost the game, the compensation was enough.

Let’s start with the problem. I’ll let Flannery explain:

Just after Christmas, I traveled to Easter Island from the U.S., I checked my baggage with United, and after passing through security, my connecting flight was canceled and I was rerouted on Air Canada to Santiago, then caught my original flight on LAN to Easter Island.

My main piece of luggage did not show up. I filed a claim with LAN and spent an aggravating amount of time contacting all three airlines daily, trying to figure out where my luggage was, and mostly getting wrong or no information.

Flannery opened a case with LAN Airlines, the airline which was responsible for the last leg of his flight to Easter Island and purchased toiletries and clothing items totalling about $ 250 for his business trip to Easter Island. He contacted all three airlines which were involved in his code share flight and continued to stay in touch with LAN Airlines saying:

Both United and Air Canada told me I needed to check with LAN, and LAN told me they had no record of the bag; extremely frustrating. My bag finally arrived on Jan 6, nine days after my arrival on the 27th.

Now I have submitted my clothing and toiletry expenses, which were only the amount of approximately $250, to LAN and they are saying they won’t reimburse because it wasn’t their fault. All of these airlines have been equally horrible to deal with, please advise on what further action I should take.

All three airlines’ websites have pages dealing with lost or delayed luggage, but when it comes to flights on multiple carriers, things get a little fuzzy.

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Air Canada is clear that, “If you are unable to locate your checked baggage upon arrival, you’ll need to notify a representative of the airline with which your flight terminates. For example, if you flew Air Canada from Halifax to Montreal, then on to Washington with United Airlines, you’ll need to speak to a United Airlines representative.”

United does not address lost luggage when multiple carriers are involved.

LAN Airlines’ English-language web page provides information about lost or delayed baggage, but is silent when multiple carriers are involved.

Flannery contacted all three airlines. Both United and Air Canada told him that compensation must come from the airline with which the flight terminates, LAN Airlines.

LAN Airlines insisted that it had no responsibility since it never received his bag from United.

We wanted to share some of LAN’s emails, but they appear to be written and then run through an online translator. They make zero sense.

Flannery contacted us out of frustration and our advocates got in touch with United. The airline reiterated that the responsibility lies with the final carrier, but it promised to coordinate with LAN. Finally, United contacted Flannery and invited him to submit his expenses for processing with them, with no guarantees that they would reimburse him. United also offered him a $300 voucher and told him he could take his chances with LAN.

Flannery accepted the $300 voucher (in our words, funny money) and decided to drop the matter with United. He is continuing to pursue real money with Lan Airlines.

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He still has not received a final response from LAN Airlines. When he spoke to them last week, they promised to resolve his case “within 48 hours,” and he remains hopeful that they will reimburse him for his expenses.

Did Brian Flannery get enough compensation for expenses related to the late delivery of his luggage?

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