Failed Luggage Damage Claim

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  • Anonymous


    Dear Business Travellers

    I had a recent issue with United in Chicago, where a good wheeled duffel appeared with a huge seam tear (thankfully, nothing was missing), took it straight to the United desk where a Rottweiler with lipstick denied the claim, saying at 51 LBS, it was overpacked and overstuffed and that the seam has burst. I denied this and argued with this devastingly unpleasant woman who refused to be swayed. She gave me the name of her supervisor, and the number to call, but I have not done so yet. Upshoot was that I spent about £100 on a new bag to get us home, figuring that I would try and claim on the manufacturers guarantee (yes, I brought the broken bag home!), however, I can’t find the receipt. I vigourously denied that the bag was overpacked – having survived the QM2, LGA to Chicago to Memphis without issue and with the same contents. I looks to me like it was snagged and torn, rather than burst.

    Do any of you seasoned veterans have a tried and or trusted method for overturning these “denied” claims? If so, I would be most grateful to hear about them. My apologies if this type of thread is covered elsewhere.

    Bottom line, is if you are travelling with heavy luggage to Chicago on United, beware, if you try and file a damage claim.

    Many thanks.



    Sad sorry, yet so common…
    Not sure whether this also applies to US internal flights, but on international flights, airlines can only exonerate themselves from liability in cases of damaged luggage if the check-in staff at the point of departure ticked the “limited release” box on your tag. This is done when the baggage shows obvious signs that it may not stand the “not-so-careful” customary handling by baggage-handlers.


    Try your travel insurance. It’s not worth pursuit it any more United are in such a financial trouble at the moment I don’t think they will pay you any compensation. So save you money and purchase a new one.


    I will say that as a former airline employee there is little an airport agent can do.. they simply have been stripped of the authority to render compensation in these types of cases.. While supervisors have more “lattitude” in these matters– even then, most airlines have made it clear within their ranks that baggage issues are not handeled “in the field”.. I’ve seen lots of damaged bags.. bags with 3rd degree “belt burn” where it gets caught between two belts and gets friction burns.. in fairness, I’ve also seen bags that were never honestly designed for 50 or 60 pounds being stuffed with that– or more.. so I guess it goes both ways..
    However, unless you take your case to the airlines central baggage desk (usually at their HQ offices) there is little the local airport can do.. I would however, get it documented before you leave the airport. I suggest taking a cellphone picture of the damage while the bag is still at the airport. I’ve seen some savy treaveller take a photo of their bag in front of the arrivals screen… this proves you and the bag were at a specific airport, at a specific time..

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