Honeymoon nightmare with airlines: lost luggage + reroute + paid first but flew coach

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Oct 6, 2015
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It seems everyone has a 'horror' story dealing with travel and airlines and we wanted to share ours with you and HOPEFULLY you can help steer us in the right direction to receiving resolution. Sorry, it is a complicated situation. But, I do hope you read. I do hope you respond. And, I very much look forward to it! Thank you Chris in advance.

My husband and I traveled for the first time out of the country to Europe together for our honeymoon - 15 day European cruise. We were really excited for this trip of a lifetime but unfortunately we experienced the following horror story with United Airlines. First, we were demoted from our paid First Class to Economy Class, then our luggage was misplaced and never made it to our final destination (for two weeks). Now we are stressed with trying to receive proper compensation for the airlines' error.

Our plane flight UA 106 on August 23, 2015 was de-boarded due to mechanical issues and we had to be re-routed to a different aircraft on flight UA114 and through a different connection point, London-Heathrow. We were assured by United Airlines Customer Service Rep, named Mercedes, at the Newark airport that she booked us on the new flight in the First Class section which is what we paid for. And, that our luggage was re-tagged and put onto the new flight. Unfortunately, we were both seated in Economy and my luggage was not re-tagged nor re-routed. I was able to be upgraded to First Class but my husband was not. He flew eight hours separated in Economy. The United Airlines Customer Service representatives in the Newark Airport treated us horribly. They were rude, inconsiderate, and never have we experienced something such as this. Furthermore, we did not receive any compensation or acts of goodwill for the additional hours we had to wait in the airport for our new flight departure time.

Upon arriving at our final destination in Istanbul, my bag was not on the carousel. There was no United Airlines office so we had to file our claim at the Turkish Air office. I spent two weeks without any of my packed clothes, shoes, underwear, medicine, toiletries in a foreign country. My luggage also contained some of my husband’s items. We had to buy items on the ship and in the ports where our cruise ship docked. It was very difficult (and expensive!) to find what we needed but made it work. We spent our savings on buying these things for the days I went without my luggage. We saved for years to go on this trip and this was not how we wished to spend our honeymoon.

In addition to the $1790.43 we were forced to spend in order to buy essentials for the two weeks, we lost additional money per the following. We could not attend our pre-paid excursion ($239) because we had to shop that day to buy necessities. And we could not attend two pre-paid formal dinner (included in cost of cruise) due to the lack of proper dress attire.

We had very limited cell and internet service at sea so we had Celebrity Cruise and our families try to help locate the bag. Each time they called United, they were given a different answer on where my bag was and when we would get it. At one point we were informed it was with a courier service and we would get it on the ship at the next port. However, this was not the case as it never was with a courier in Istanbul, nor did it ever arrive in Istanbul like the United agent claimed. At another point the file was closed and said to be delivered to its final destination, however, the bag was never delivered to any destination, let alone the final destination. We then had to track down a courier service via email and phone after being told to “Google” the company name by the United customer service representative. The courier service we were able to connect with had to go to LAX and sort through every lost/unclaimed bag at the Turkish Airlines office to find mine. This had to be done since the bag was never properly transferred to Courier Service Company for delivery like the United record showed.

According to the airlines policy the last airline carrier is responsible for compensating the passenger however Turkish Airlines has been a nightmare to work with. Turkish is claiming I didn't file in time (I did and have proof of receipt) and I am currently working with the LAX Turkish office for resolution (will take them to small claims if this is not resolved within the next month). However, the fact is it was United Airlines who forced us to deplane, be re-routed, booked us in economy, didn't re-tag our bag, gave us mixed information each time we called to check on the status of the missing bag, and United Airlines is THE reason that we are in the situation we are in.

We filed with United on September 21st via internet, email, fax, and registered mail. My husband did receive the $500 refund from United for flying economy while paying for first class (even though it was close to $1200 difference the day we booked!). Customer Service also gave us $200 voucher and 5,000 miles. However, due to the situation and the treatment we deserve more than just a $200 voucher which will require us to pay additional money to the airlines since this amount doesn't even get us out of California!

Well, if you made it this far then I assume you read my whole letter, again I apologize for the long winded email. It's the principal of the situation, the fault of United, and the fact they are washing their hands of us with a measly $200 voucher and a generic apology email.

I look forward to hearing your feedback and advice. Thank you again!
 

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johnbaker

Verified Member
Oct 2, 2014
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@Marlo S Ok this is an ugly experience but first take a deep breath ... Emotions are going to kill you in this process.
Let's start with what you are probably owed....
1. They owe you for the difference in air fare.
2. They owe you up to $1587 under the Montreal Convention for necessities due to lost luggage.
Now who owes you what...
1. UA owes you for the difference in air fare. I'd would ask them specifically how they arrived at the amount they refunded you. Their answer is probably going to be that its the difference between a Y fare (full economy fare) and the ticket you purchased. If that's the case, you need to go back and argue with them that their were cheaper fares available at the time you purchased your ticket and you are requesting that difference. Especially since that it was due to a mechanical delay instead of an unforeseeable one. Use the UA links on the company contacts page to push the issue up the chain if you need to
2. They are exactly correct on your luggage. The last airline in the chain is responsible for luggage issues. Ask Turkish Air for the above amount under the requirements of the Montreal Convention. That's the treaty that governs international air travel.
Finally, don't UA try to push off the voucher or the miles as compensation. That's service recovery for their mistakes.
Have and it....
 
Jan 5, 2015
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@Marlo S, johnbaker is correct. You need to deal with two separate airlines. First, engage with UA. Start with the lowest executive on our list (http://elliott.org/company-contacts/united-airlines/), email them a brief, polite email asking for proper compensation. Wait a week prior to going up the chain.

http://elliott.org/company-contacts/turkish-airlines/ has our Turkish Airlines contacts. Start with their customer service and work your way up from there.

Bullet points will help make your case brief. If you'd like to run a draft by us here, we can review it for clarity for you.

Best of luck, and congratulations to you both.
 
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Mar 17, 2015
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OK, I think you need to write to the airline, but as John Baker stated above, keep it short and simple. I would check to make sure that Turkish air is part of the Montreal convention, if not, it should have a policy for lost/delayed luggage.
Write to United about the fare difference and write to Turkish about the luggage. United is not on the hook for the luggage, as you do not know if it was United or Turkish who screwed up. Turkish air can go after United if they feel it was the fault of United.
I am not sure either airline owes you for the missed excursion. While I know you needed clothes, most cruise lines have clothing available to purchase and it was your choice to miss the excursion to shop vs. purchasing something on board. Also, since the cruise line knew you were without your luggage, I am almost positive they would have made an exception for you to attend the formal nights. And if Celebrity really holds to the dress code policy, then they are a last hold out for the main cruise lines. Also, had you asked, they may have had rental formal wear that would have worked for these nights.
In the future, when traveling together, make sure you have at least 1 change of clothes in your carry-on and ALL prescription/needed medications. Then, pack half of your items in your husband's suitcase and half of his in yours. That way, if a bag is lost, you both have clothes and with some laundry, you should be covered in most instances. I know the airlines can still screw up and lose more than one bag, but at least this way, you have possibly saved yourself some grief.
 

JVillegirl541

Verified Member
Nov 21, 2014
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Oh I am so so sorry! Yes I read the whole sorted awful tale :(
Can I give you just one tiny bit of comfort? After the anger and disappoint get behind you, you will have a whopper of a million dollar tale. You will tell your great grandchildren this story and smile. I know it's very hard to believe today but it's true!
Ok now time to get down to work. First this tale and your gorgeous picture is just too "horrid" for Chris to not help. But first the forum needs to have a go at it and see what can be resolved.
Our forum has some very experienced travel industry professionals that should be able to assist. They may ask some hard questions and lots of them. It's because we want to help and need to make sure we don't overlook any details.... So bear with us!
Someone will be by very shortly, I'm kinda the Welcome Wagon :)
 
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johnbaker

Verified Member
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@Marlo S I forgot to ask.... Did you have trip insurance? A number of those policies have lost luggage riders in them too...
 
Oct 6, 2015
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THANK YOU for all of the help.
  • Please know, when I received Turkish Airlines contacts listed here, I received an e-mail error message in return: http://elliott.org/company-contacts/turkish-airlines/
  • I did have trip insurance and in process of filing with them now!
  • The cruise ship didn't have any rentals for clothes and one shop on board which we made a few purchases (so expensive) but no shoes for formal night. They may have given us a pass to attend the formal night but honestly I felt very insecure without the proper attire to do so. We had to shop for undergarments the first day off the ship which is why we missed out on our first excursion.
  • I will reach out to UA with the compensation for economy vs first class ticket per your suggestions above.
  • At first I was very emotional (of course) but now after a few weeks, I just want to receive proper compensation. It is mostly about the principal of the matter. And, you are right, after the fact, it's been and will continue to be a story for the books.
-Marlo
 
Oct 6, 2015
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@Marlo S, which contact(s) bounced back? All of them?

I'd start with them on their customer service side since this is the first time you've dealt with them - give them a chance to resolve the issue at the lowest level. https://www4.thy.com/customercontact/index.tkf?lang=en is their website contact form.
Sorry, I am referring to the executive e-mail addresses on the page - minus the chief executive. I reached out/cc:ed them on my email with TA customer service because I wasn't receiving a response from TA customer service and they bounced back.

Also, I filed and called TA customer service since September 21. They keep claiming that I did not file within the 21 day policy. They say that my file was closed on August 29 when their file shows I received my luggage in LA. However, I did not receive my luggage until September 3. My mother in law had to Google the carrier service for contact information who in return had to go to the TA LAX office to look through the bags and find mine. This is because Turkish failed to even deliver to a courier service! I landed to LAX on September 7 and filed on September 21. I have a copy of the receipt from the courier service to prove it was not delivered until September 3. TA Customer Service has been silent since I sent the proof and I had asked for a copy of proof from them that the bag was indeed delivered on that date. See attached email from TA and my proof of receipt when the bag was delivered. This is why I need to escalate the issue.

I am also hearing that Turkish Airlines won't reimburse more than 6 days with delayed luggage, which is fine if it is true (I just deserve something) but does anyone know of this?

THANKS!
 

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Jan 5, 2015
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Sorry, I am referring to the executive e-mail addresses on the page - minus the chief executive. I reached out/cc:ed them on my email with TA customer service because I wasn't receiving a response from TA customer service and they bounced back.

Also, I filed and called TA customer service since September 21. They keep claiming that I did not file within the 21 day policy. They say that my file was closed on August 29 when their file shows I received my luggage in LA. However, I did not receive my luggage until September 3. My mother in law had to Google the carrier service for contact information who in return had to go to the TA LAX office to look through the bags and find mine. This is because Turkish failed to even deliver to a courier service! I landed to LAX on September 7 and filed on September 21. I have a copy of the receipt from the courier service to prove it was not delivered until September 3. TA Customer Service has been silent since I sent the proof and I had asked for a copy of proof from them that the bag was indeed delivered on that date. See attached email from TA and my proof of receipt when the bag was delivered. This is why I need to escalate the issue.

I am also hearing that Turkish Airlines won't reimburse more than 6 days with delayed luggage, which is fine if it is true (I just deserve something) but does anyone know of this?

THANKS!
I'll let the staff member who is a wizard at looking up contact information know about the bounce backs.
 
Sep 1, 2015
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Sorry to hear about these bounce backs. I checked and it seems the addresses are OK but either the recipient mailboxes are full or not accepting any more messages. In any case, we'll have to look at these contacts again.

In the meantime, I found an email address for the general manager Western USA for Turkish Airlines, Fayma Yuceler. She seems to do a lot of self-promotion at her own website, fatmayuceler.com, and she includes her personal email address: [email protected].
So you could try to reach out to Ms. Yuceler. Also, I would recommend using Turkish Airlines' Twitter account for customer service problems: @Tk_helpdesk. They seem to respond pretty quickly.
Good luck,
Trent
Director of Research, elliott.org
 
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Oct 6, 2015
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Sorry to hear about these bounce backs. I checked and it seems the addresses are OK but either the recipient mailboxes are full or not accepting any more messages. In any case, we'll have to look at these contacts again.

In the meantime, I found an email address for the general manager Western USA for Turkish Airlines, Fayma Yuceler. She seems to do a lot of self-promotion at her own website, fatmayuceler.com, and she includes her personal email address: [email protected].
So you could try to reach out to Ms. Yuceler. Also, I would recommend using Turkish Airlines' Twitter account for customer service problems: @Tk_helpdesk. They seem to respond pretty quickly.
Good luck,
Trent
Director of Research, elliott.org
Hi Trent - thanks so much!
In regards to social - good call! I have Tweeted and Facebook'd. I was blocked from commenting on their Facebook page. And for their Twitter page, their team always says 'someone will be in touch soon' or 'you will have good news soon'. The last time they said I would have some good news is when the agent denied my compensation based on their false records. :)
Will reach out to Fayma Yuceler.
Thank you again,
Marlo
 

Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Marlo, I hope our contacts can help you. However, if Trent can get you better contacts, never cc all the executives on an email. It doesn't work. We advise our writers to write to customer service, wait a week for an answer. If you don't get it, or it isn't what you want, write to the first executive. Wait a week, repeat if necessary.

Our letter writers have had success working them one at a time.

Make sure you mention the Montreal Convention when writing to Turkish Airlines about the luggage.

Glad you had travel insurance because that will give you some re-imbursement up to the limits of the policy. You will need to provide receipts for everything you purchased.

You really had a terrible time, I am very sorry this happened and hope we can help. If not, we can send you right to Chris to get involved.
 
Aug 31, 2015
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Don't turn around . . . .
Actually this one is dirt simple:

Send a letter to UA - this one should directly to the new President. Why? Because of what he said last week - 'we're not doing it right. He's right. They're not. They didn't.

This story cries out for a do-over for these folks - or at least two UA first class seats to Paris for a nice long weekend with UAL doing a human interest story about their screw up and how they made it right. Cost of UA? Zero. Smiling newlywed faces are big bucks free publicity.

In fact - I would suggest that @Christopher Elliott think about a story to try and jog that out of AA. This was a honeymoon - the tale is simple: UA dropped the ball and we're gonna make it right. It fits this week's narrative from the new UAL president.

Moving on - I would ask them for a refund of the fare different - cash - no funny money.

Then - I would ask for a 600 euro per person delay and lost baggage credit. If they refuse - google one of the outfits to go fget it for you.

On top of that - refund of any baggage charges. And payment for the essentials.
 
Mar 4, 2015
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Was your husband downgraded up to LHR or all the way to your final destination?

EC Regulation 261 provides you with considerable protections for delays and downgrades, but it only applies to flights operated by EU carriers and to flights from EU airports on non-EU carriers. (i.e. it doesn't cover the flights operated by UA to/from EWR).

If he was downgraded on segments within Europe then he should be entitled to a refund of either 30% or 50% of his pro-rated fare (depending on whether those downgraded segments add up to more than 1500 kilometers). However, since your ticketed routing changed completely, I'm not sure how they would determine the pro-rated amount of the fare that is subject to the regulation.
 
Aug 29, 2015
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When you state you could not attend the two pre-paid formal dinners, are you talking about the formal night in the Main Dining Room or are you talking about dinners in some of the fee-added locations?
You also mentioned a pre-paid excursion you missed. Had you purchased the excursion through the cruise line, or privately?

Which of the Celebrity ships were you on?
 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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@Marlo S, my colleagues have covered all the bases here I think, and your story is very articulate and organized, so I'm confident that you will write excellent letters to these jerks, I mean executives at the airlines.
I just wanted to tell you that you have my sympathy ... you indeed had a terrible, terrible trip in some ways. But I get the feeling that you will turn this into a GREAT family story, one you'll tell for years, and I also believe that you experienced some really lovely parts of this trip from hell. I mean, if newlyweds could go through this and still come back home together ... it augers well for the marriage, doesn't it? Please keep us posted.
 

Mike Z

Jan 8, 2015
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What a horrible story, and what makes it worse is that multiple problems occured. If I can make one suggestion though, stop sending messages to multiple people and sending letters and messages through other sources. You need to do these things one at a time or else everyone will assume that someone else will take care of your issues. Also by sending multiple messages and letters, you cut down on the number of appeals in the chain that you have.
 
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