Shot from the airplane

What to Do When the Airline Loses Your Luggage

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It’s been a full year since the last time I’ve flown Delta, and in case you were wondering how our luggage follies turned out, I figured I’d give you an update. After all, if you travel frequently, you’ve undoubtedly had your bag lost at some point. If you’re a frequent Delta traveler, I’d say the likelihood of lost luggage increases tenfold.

I had a particularly tumultuous summer of 2014 with Delta. Between Memorial Day and mid-July, I flew a dozen legs with the airline (not my choice). The majority were delayed significantly. One was canceled entirely (on a holiday weekend, no less). When I was going to NYC for a wedding. I reiterate: ON A HOLIDAY WEEKEND. Delta couldn’t have been less helpful in getting us to our final destination. But the big kicker was when we spent more than 250,000 coveted airline mile to get to Europe for SVV’s 40th birthday … and then they lost our bag. For four days. Rather, they sent one bag to JFK and the other to Venice. To clarify, we were flying direct from Atlanta to Rome. So that made sense.

When we arrived in Rome, I received an email that our luggage did not. The message said to go to the Delta desk, only there was no Delta desk at the Rome airport to even help us remedy the problem. We were redirected to Alitalia instead—an airline nearly as worthless as Delta—where they just shrugged their shoulders and told us we’d have to call Delta back in the US for any assistance. Problem was it was early hours of the morning. On a Saturday. Good luck getting anyone on the phone before Monday.

Nuns in Rome airport
The locals waiting on Delta along with us. Sorry, sisters, but you’re gonna be waiting a long time!

After our driver waited patiently with us for several hours and attempted to help us with the situation, we were getting close to embarkation time on the Royal Clipper. So we left, our hands empty save our electronic devices we carried on. We wound up spending the first few days on our cruise ship borrowing clothes from my sister and her fiance. Star Clippers could not have been kinder; they sent up complimentary amenities kits and even a shirt for each of us.

Put what you want

SVV even resorted to wearing a dress. It was a low point for us both, for sure.

Put what you want

Our baggage finally arrived sometime on the fourth day, after we had spent hundreds of dollars in international calls on our cells. We figured we’d worry about getting compensation for all that we spent in the meantime once we arrived home.

Put what you want

Smiles all around when our clothes finally arrived.

Only problem is that once we had our bags, that’s when Delta really ignored us. Over the phone. Over Twitter. Over email. It’s frustrating. In order to file a claim, they said we needed “the folder the airline rep gave us at the airport.” Well, newsflash, Delta; there was no rep at the Rome airport, hence why we were in this predicament in the first place.

I was more than a little frustrated. We tallied the bills in Verizon charges and clothes purchased on expensive Mediterranean islands where buying resort wear was essentially our only choice, and it totaled well over $500. I was going to get compensation, dammit, and SVV was, too.

Put what you want

At least our 200-person ship had a small store with clothing available for purchase.

So I finally reached out to ombudsman and airline expert Chris Elliott, who has helped me in plenty a predicament before, and he sent me his list of corporate contacts. Finally, finally, at the end of September—more than three months after the delayed baggage—I received a note back from Gina Rubino in the customer service department. Here is what she said:

<> wrote:

Thank you for your comments to Jason. I’ve been asked to respond to you. It must’ve been so frustrating to arrive into Rome and realize your luggage wasn’t there, to encounter a lack of ownership to help you, incur expenses until your bag arrived, and to have a disruption on your trip home, after having a major disruption earlier over Memorial Day weekend.

As SkyMiles members, you know the service we strive to provide and we appreciate your loyalty over the years. I’m sorry that upon arrival into Rome, you learned that your luggage wasn’t there. Our goal is to have your luggage arrive with you and I understand this was a very negative start to your vacation. So that your concerns receive the appropriate handling, I’ve forwarded your concerns to our Executive Baggage team. My peer will follow up with the items related to this luggage delay with you directly.

I’m sorry you also had two recent occasions where your travel was disrupted. We want our customers to have an enjoyable travel experience and arrive to their destination on time. However, we will never compromise the safety of our passengers in order to maintain a schedule. The Pinnacles Airlines Flight 3375 was cancelled due to crew reasons and Flight 2176 on  July 11 was delayed due to mechanical issues. If a disruption should occur, we should work to place you on the first available flight to your destination. I realize for your trip over Memorial Day Weekend, this was truly a struggle. I’m glad they found an option the following morning but I recognize that on both occasions, your plans regarding your attendance of weddings were negatively impacted. I’d be very disappointed as well if this had happened to me.

We Hear You
I’ve passed your comments directly to the Nashville and Atlanta Airport Customer Service and Reservations leadership teams, so they can consider your experience when making needed changes to improve our service.

Bonus Miles
As a goodwill gesture, I’m adding 20,000 bonus miles to your SkyMiles accounts. They should be transferred into your accounts within three business days.

Kristin and Scott, we value your business. Despite these issues, I hope your time in Europe was lovely. We look forward to serving you better in the future. Again, you will hear from our Executive Baggage team regarding your luggage delay in the near future.


Gina Rubino
You Share, We Care

While I do appreciate her addressing my concerns one by one—of which, there were many—20,000 miles? You’ve got to be kidding me. You can’t buy anything for 20,000 miles on Delta—not to mention the fact that I’m never flying with them again. I wrote her back and said while I appreciated her gesture, a) 20,000 miles doesn’t get me a flight on Delta (truth; the base rate to get to Hawaii from the mainland, for example, is 65,000 miles one way), and b) miles hardly replenish my bank account after all the expenses we accrued on international calls, hiring a driver to wait for us five extra hours

I told her as much, and here was “Gina’s” kind response back (gag):

I know you feel like the 20,000 Bonus Miles offer wasn’t adequate compensation. We strive to be fair and consistent when offering any goodwill gesture. We previously had provided you 5,000 bonus miles each for your disruption. In light of your comments, I had added another 20,000 bonus miles to allow you to have 25,000 bonus miles total. This is the minimum miles required for mileage redemption for a domestic roundtrip within the 48 contiguous United States. Respectfully, we are unable to honor your request for further compensation.

In regards to your expense and inconvenience via your luggage delay, you should be hearing from my peer Donovan on our Executive Baggage team. He will be addressing this aspect of your concerns.

Again, I’m sorry you were greatly inconvenienced. We value your loyalty and we hope you will allow us another opportunity to welcome you aboard in the future.



Value my loyalty? Gina, you must have heard me wrong. I’ll never be flying your P.O.S. airline again. NEVER.

We escalated the situation. SVV probably called once a week for months until we finally were put in touch with Donovan Butler, Sr. Claims Manager of Consumer Affairs – Baggage, who preferred to talk over the phone (likely so we didn’t have written record of the conversation), offered us $250 in compensation and said he was being extremely generous as most passengers would never get such money. Geez, thanks Donovan for your generosity.

But it wasn’t enough. Here’s SVV’s response:

I’ve thought about it, and here is what I think is fair in light of you having to justify the expense to your internal audit without receipts. $500 each passenger plus the travel points credit you mentioned. That is only $125 per day per person—four days in Europe without luggage—which isn’t enough for one dress shirt at Ponza, our first island stop from the airport.

The thing is, Donovan, it wasn’t just the expenses of supplying clothing for the formal dinners on the ship for both of us. It was also the lost time spent waiting for one bag to arrive in Rome (fees extra for the pre-arranged driver we had waiting to take us to the port, which is outside the normal range of a taxi). but also the fact that we had to shop for clothing instead of enjoying our vacation. Believe me, I’d much rather have been laying on the beach.

Anyway, you seem reasonable. And I’m being reasonable here, considering what happened.

I also searched the Internet ad nauseam, finding posts like this one from a diamond flier and plenty of helpful articles that shared nuggets of advice like this one:

“They owe you way more for delayed luggage than they’ll offer to pay. If your bag is delayed, not lost, airlines will try to placate you with $25 or $50 per day. But the DOT says it’s not enough to salvage a wedding, a ski trip, or an important business trip. These companies can owe you up to $3,300 in liability for a domestic US trip, so long as you’ve got receipts to prove you needed that stuff. Looks like upon arrival, a new tuxedo is in order. (You always wear Armani…)”

Put what you want

SVV’s new resort wear, purchased on the very expensive Ponza island.

Funny, they never even offered us a paltry $25 a day, let alone a toothbrush. And yet…

We persevered. In January, I received a check from Delta for $1,000 (that’s $500 apiece for each of us).

I couldn’t believe my lucky(?) stars. I didn’t think we’d ever get a penny, let alone a four-figure check. I deposited it outright before they could cancel the check.

Long story short, how to avoid your bags going missing? Well, to start…

Pack only with a carry-on

This is generally the rule of thumb I always follow, but this time around—three weeks in Europe, revisiting SVV’s former stomping grounds—we wanted to do a little shopping and decided we’d each check a suitcase. In the words of Julia Roberts: Big mistake. Huge.

Know your rights

I found this article in the New York Post helpful with knowing exactly what you are entitled to by DOT in each situation. Still, it doesn’t really help, I suppose, when the airline won’t respond to you, as was our case those first three months.

Save all receipts

They’ll demand to know how much you spent, even though they’re required to compensate you a set fee per day.

Also, save your luggage tags

You know the stickers you tear off of your baggage once you finally receive it? DON’T THROW THOSE AWAY. Delta required all copies of everything from us, including our boarding passes (even though it all should be in their system already).

File a complaint on the airline’s website

Do this first, however know they likely won’t get back to you, and also track down and email corporate. In Delta’s case, the email address is

File a complaint with DOT

George Hobica of Airfare Watchdog sent me this link about delayed baggage and said if enough people complained to DOT, Delta would get fined (similar to this situation with Alitalia, who funny enough was the one who handled our situation—and poorly at that—since they’re a Delta partner and Delta has no office in Rome).

Have you ever had your baggage delayed? Did you receive compensation? What did you do to fight the airline?



What to do When an Airline Loses Your Luggage

  • July 13, 2015

    Ridiculous. Must be why Delta’s Net Promoter Score is only 33 whereas Southwest has a 62. I’m kind of surprised it’s as high as a 33.

    • July 13, 2015

      UGH, they’re the worst!

      Thanks for this link =)

  • July 13, 2015

    Ugh, what a nightmare! Glad it finally was resolved, at least somewhat. Do you think airlines just figure eventually you’ll give up because of all the paperwork? It seems like only the most persistent people ever get fairly compensated for nonsense like this!

    Stay tuned for my upcoming rant on Silver Airways… 😉

    • July 13, 2015

      I think they bank on the average person not having the time (or the know-how) to deal with such a kerfuffle! Too bad for them, we are not the average person 😉

      • July 14, 2015

        Angie, I can’t wait to read your rant as another friend of mine just had the same thing happen for their honeymoon! What is up, airlines!

        And Kristin, I shudder to tell you this but I am arriving in Bonaire via… Delta. OR AM I!?

  • July 13, 2015
    Briel K.

    Wow, you guys really worked for that $1000. I think they feel like they can get away with not offering the right compensation to everyone because a lot of people aren’t willing to put in the effort to get what they deserve. Well done!

    That photo of Scott in the dress is the best! LOL!

    • July 13, 2015

      All the time it spent probably worked out to $3/hour, but hey, at least I feel like we won 😉

  • July 13, 2015

    Timely post as I am currently without baggage! My bag got left behind sure to a late flight. I was assured my bag would arrive in a few hours on a flight from Amsterdam to time. since I was continuing on to Puglia the bag would be delivered the next day. I noticed the passenger ahead of me was offered a toiletry kit but I wasn’t. I asked for one and it felt like it was given to me only reluctantly. It’s now been a full week and still no bag. I call every day and each time the tell me “good news! Your bag was located on Amsterdam!” Well, duh, I know that! The send a “message” to Rome and always say the don’t receive a response. It was only after the second or third call that I was informed I could have compensation to buy necessities of 200€. Unfortunately I am in a small town with nowhere to shop! Finally made a trip to the nearest big town to buy some things. As of today they tell me the bag was transferred to a courier company Saturday but that means I should have my bag by now! (Monday). For the record the company is KLM/Alitalia.

    • July 13, 2015

      Ugh, I’m so sorry, Lindsay. It’s the worst when you’re trying to enjoy a trip and you spend the whole time keeping tabs on where in the world your luggage is! Alitalia/KLM are in the same alliance as Delta, so it doesn’t surprise me (though I would have expected more from KLM!).

      Put up a fight when you return and get the compensation you deserve!!!

      • July 15, 2015

        Got my bag today!! It took 9 days.

  • July 13, 2015

    There should be a clear rule on what is expected with delayed baggage. Europe has rules in which they have to follow. But you are only entitled if you are a European union citizen. Airlines aren’t going to volunteer to give money if the law doesn’t allow it. Any airline therefore I think you must be delusional if you think other airlines won’t give you the same run around. You may be delta free but your aren’t free from it happening again. The grass is always greener.

    • July 13, 2015

      Delusional, maybe, but I’ll hedge my bets and fly other airlines anyway 😉

      I have had American friends who have flown airlines like AirFrance that gave them 500 euro out the gate upon losing their luggage. Delta is widely known as being one of the worst U.S. carriers, so it’s no surprise they’d make it so difficult, but the bottom line is that I’d rather give my money to any airline BUT them.

      And yes, I agree, we definitely need better regulations like the EU. The way it’s set up now in the US is extremely messed up.

  • July 13, 2015

    On the plus side, SVV looks cool as hell. Except in the dress. He did not wear that with enough confidence.

    • July 14, 2015

      True. I’ll make sure he works on that next time!

  • July 13, 2015

    I had my luggage delivered 24 hours after arriving into Barcelona once, but I have to admit it wasn’t a problem. It meant that I only had to take myself and my carry on backpack into the city and to my hostel. My two other very heavy checked bags were then hand delivered to me the next day – much easier!

    As a travel agent now though, there are airlines I try to steer clear of for my clients and Delta has always been one of them. Your experience certainly backs up my other reasons for doing that.

    • July 14, 2015

      Yes, definitely! Only good ones in the US are Southwest, Virgin America, JetBlue and Alaska Air, but the unfortunate truth is that all of those don’t have use areas of coverage (for example, only Southwest flies out of Nashville!).

  • July 13, 2015

    I’ve never had my baggage lost/delayed by the airline and it’s all because I follow rule #1 religiously. I almost NEVER check my luggage and prefer to pack a carry-on, except when I go home to Indonesia and my mom insists I bring a bunch of things back here to North America (but in this case, I fly Cathay and I can trust them with my luggage). Other than that, it’s only carry-on for me. I gotta say – dealing with airlines is a very tedious and frustrating process in general. American charged my credit card TWICE (through no fault of mine) and took almost 3 months for them to refund the money. It’s ridiculous.

    At the end of the day, I’m glad you got the compensation. I still feel like they should have given you more than the 1K considering all the troubles you and SVV went through!

    • July 14, 2015

      Girl, you and me both. We would have only taken a carryon each but then we wanted to bring things back so we packed all of our stuff in one suitcase and left one relatively empty save our toiletries and decided to check them so we didn’t have to haul them around the airport. LESSON LEARNED (the hard way!).

  • July 13, 2015

    Many years ago Continental lost a suitcase of mine with my clothes and other stuff (was moving to the US, all my belongings there). After calls and complaints I got a 450 USD check to compensate the loss.A month later I got my suitcase, broken. I complained again and got a new one. All things considered it wasn’t too bad except for the calls I had to make…and of course having few clothes for a month ( I always pack an extra t-shirt and underwear in my carry on if I’m checking in a suitcase, always). Good for you!

  • July 13, 2015

    Thanks for sharing. This is exactly the reason why I have travelled round the world for the last six months with only a 46-litre backpack that qualifies for cabin luggage. Okay, so I had to wash my clothes often, but, it beats the stress. Glad you fought your corner.

    • July 14, 2015

      You are smart, my friend! Washing clothes is the lesser of two evils when it comes to dealing with the airlines =)

  • July 14, 2015

    First off, I admire your tenacity! In all my years of traveling I have never had my luggage go missing (knock on wood) which now I think of it, is undeniably lucky. I’ve flown Delta a couple times and they were both delayed, but I can deal with that. I’m a Virgin Australia FF though so it was VA who handled the re-routing of my flights etc – I’ve never had to deal with Delta customer service. So happy you got some compensation in the end… though really, they should also compensate you for having to chase them for so long!!

    • July 14, 2015

      Ahhh I wish I could only fly Virgin airlines! When I lived in NYC and SF, I flew Virgin America often but sadly none of them service Nashville (yet) =/

  • July 14, 2015

    Wow, what an “adventure”! Yup, I have had my bags lost plenty of times. In fact, when coming back from your trip, if I have checked a heavy bag, I secretly hope that it doesn’t arrive so they have to deliver it to my home and schlepp it up all those stairs to get to my walk-up apartment as was the case when I lived in Berlin. Having it lost going TO your desitination of course is a different story, but this has also happened to me as well.
    I also used to work in the baggage service office for a major airline (no, not Delta LOL) – worked there for 5 years and because of that I am well aware of rights and how to avoid this happening.
    Your advice on using only carry-on is really the perfect way to ensure your bag not getting lost. There is a slight chance they may have to take it from you on the jetway if the overhead bins are already full, but this is a long-shot.
    Your advice on knowing your rights is VERY important, not only with baggage delays or loss but also in cases of delays and cancellations and oversells. Every airline must have something called the Contract of Carriage and they must be able to provide it to any customer who asks for it.
    I would also add to this advice to consider your flight path when deciding to check a bag or not. For example, if it is a not stop flight, there is less chance of delayed luggage. If, however, you are transferring with little time, think again. If you are running to your next gate, so is someone with your bag. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched ramp agents outside unloading and loading bags, but have you ever seen any run?
    Also, if your flight path involves two different airlines, where the first one is with one airline and you transfer to another, your bags have a greater chance of delay. By the way, in this case, it is always the last airline that you took that is responsible for the bag and getting it to you.
    Also, one of the rules in the contract of carriage is that all baggage claims (lost bag, damaged bag or missing item) need to be filed within 48 hours of your plane landing so don’t put it off.
    Also, if your airline does have a baggage service office (strange situation with Delta in Rome), be sure to be extra nice to those in that office. They get yelled at and called names ALL day long! So by the time you get to them, if you are yelling, you are simply adding to the noise. If, however, you remain calm (and not throw a tantrem in the office like one business man did because his golf clubs did not arrive with him) and polite you are much more likely to get what you need.
    In one case, for example, I had two passengers on one flight whose bags did not arrive and just before Christmas. One was yelling at me about suing the airline because his kids presents were in the bag and the other was calm, smiled at me (something I hadn’t seen all day) and said, “I appreciate anything you can do to get my bag to me asap because I have gifts inside for my grandchildren”. Well, as predicted, both bags arrived on the very next flight but when I took them to the delivery service, there was only room for one more bag on their truck. Well guess whose bag I made sure went out that night?
    And please please please folks, do NOT put the following items into your checked luggage (and all of these happened by the way – several times): car and house keys, medication, the only copy of the book you just wrote.
    In terms of getting the airline to return your calls, emails etc, that is the hardest one. I think it was really smart to contact an ombudsman. I would have never have thought of that and it seemed to do the trick. Another thing you could do is sue them. Don’t threaten to sue – god knows airline employees of every airline hear that one all the time and it doesn’t phase us a bit! But to actually get contacted by a lawyer – yeah that would make all the difference.
    Definitely keep ALL your receipts and baggage stubs and even your boarding pass – anything that connects you with the flight. Most airlines will either give you a toiletry kit if you are out of town (but sometimes you have to know to ask for one) and others will reimburse you up to a certain amount for any toiletries you buy. Similiar with clothing except that you usually do not get reimbursed 100%.
    Wow, this is turning out to be a LONG comment. hahaha 🙂 I hope people find it helpful and hope that this never happens to you again – it sounds awful and the worst thing an airline can do is not acknowledge their customers and their mistake and how that affected your vacation!

    • July 14, 2015

      Thank you for this helpful input! I think I’m only going to fly carry on now for the rest of my life, ha =)

  • July 15, 2015

    What rotten luck and good on you for standing up to the airline bullies. I’ve only had my luggage lost once and that was flying from London to Frankfurt on British Airways for a wedding. Everyone was awfully nice as I was in a panic having flown in jeans and the wedding taking place 2 days later!Thankfully, BA found my suitcase and arranged to deliver it to the very small German village where I actually was. Phew!

    As for flight delays, I’m still fighting that right now having been on a delayed flight of over 10 hours from Barcelona to Berlin in May of this year…. What have I learnt? Not to fly budget airlines anymore except for Easyjet or to take the train LOL!

    • July 23, 2015

      BA does seem like they’d be nice in a situation like that! Delta, on the other hand…NOPE.

  • July 15, 2015

    Whoops, glad that resolved in the end. All tips are cool! Never fly Delta, good one 🙂

    • July 23, 2015

      Haha, agreed. Is there an airline you’d recommend? I’m running low on them with the major US carriers all being so unreliable ha!

  • July 15, 2015

    Ugh. So sorry to hear all of that, but mega props for perservearing.

    The last time my luggage got lost, it was on Delta (on a direct flight, too). Whenever I’ve heard anyone talk about lost luggage, about 90% of them flew Delta — which is ironic, as they also have a “your bags in 30 minutes!” guarantee (at least, they had that back in the spring, but if the bags are late, they throw 5,000 miles vouchers at you, which as you stated, is next to nothing).

    • July 24, 2015

      Exactly! Scott loved pointing out that whole campaign to them in his note (they didn’t care. shocker). How can one airline be so good at being consistently bad?!

  • July 15, 2015

    Blargh….Alitalia is so, so, sucky. If/when I ever return to Italy, I refuse to fly them.

    • July 23, 2015

      THE ABSOLUTE WORST. They couldn’t have cared less that our bags were in a different country than we were.

  • July 15, 2015

    Wow, what a mess! I’ve had a lot of luggage delayed, on direct flights no less, but usually on the way home so it wasn’t a huge deal as they later deliver to my house. This was my greatest fear, though, when cruising the Galapagos last year, and also for my upcoming Grand Canyon river trip – if the luggage doesn’t arrive with me, I’m SOL for 11 days!

    Curious how they got the luggage to you on your cruise ship, though?

    The worst part is, you got your money in the end, but how much time did you spend trying to get that back? ugh.

    • July 23, 2015

      Well, that was the other problem. It could have gotten there earlier but our first two days were at sea and on a remote island in the Med! In the end, they sent a courier down the Amalfi Coast (without letting us know) and we awoke one morning to him knocking on our cabin door in Sorrento =)

      And YES to the time vs. money argument. Definitely worth waaaay more than we gone, but we felt victorious nonetheless!

  • July 15, 2015
    Cammy K.

    I just got a check from American Airlines today, so knew I had to comment on this post!

    I flew to Belize using miles on May 1st. My one checked bag with all my toiletries and scuba gear was lost. The American Airlines rep at the Belize City airport was extraordinarily helpful and made it clear that if I saved receipts, I’d get reimbursed by the airline. I purchased some toiletry essentials (sunscreen! bug spray! shampoo!) in Belize City.

    Unfortunately, our bag did not arrive the next day when we were in Belize City. We departed for our dive resort on a private island late that afternoon.

    On May 3rd, we went scuba diving and had to rent all our gear (both my spouse and I had all our gear in our one checked bag) at the dive resort. Quite pricey! It was $140 USD for our scuba rentals for May 3rd. When we surfaced from our second dive of the day, here comes a private plane carrying nothing but the pilot and our one bag. Talk about service!!

    I’m afraid I was rather negligent about filling out the required form and getting our receipts together. We also didn’t have our luggage tracking tags that you mentioned as being required (our form said to include these).

    But, in the end, it didn’t matter, because American Airlines gave us a check for scuba gear rental and toiletries.

    I have to say American Airlines was very understanding and professional about the whole affair. It was a pretty hassle-free experience. The only thing I didn’t get refunded was the $25 fee I paid for my one checked bag. Also, I can now say that my luggage chartered its own private plane to fly to a private island (I took a boat, along with the rest of the guests and their luggage)! Fancy pants luggage!

    • July 23, 2015

      Oh man, that is THE WORST. When Scott and I were flying TACA (they don’t call it “take a chance airways” for nothing) from Guatemala to Honduras several years ago for a dive trip, our flight left everyone’s bags on the mainland (we even watched them take all the bags OFF the plane before we left…when we inquired about it, the FAs plead ignorance)—and then there were horrible storms that prohibited flights from coming in/out for three days. We don’t travel with dive gear and had thought to put our bathing suits and masks/snorkels in our carry-on and just rented the rest. However, there were many families who had flown in from Atlanta on Delta, and Delta had left their bags in Georgia and they didn’t get them before they left a week later! And with kids diving, you really need your own gear, so I felt really bad for all of them.

      Good for AA for reimbursing you! I’m flying them on a dive trip to the Caribbean this weekend and am checking a bag, so here’s to hoping that a) they don’t lose mine and b) they reimburse me if they do 😉 (Carrying on some basics just in case!)

  • July 16, 2015

    A lost baggage rep from Delta once told me Delta stands for “Don’t Expect Luggage To Arrive”. He told me this after locating my lost bag….6 weeks after I returned from my trip. The abbreviated version is that a few years ago, I flew to Costa Rica from NY in the middle of February, in the middle of a snow storm. I was dressed in jeans, sneakers, and a long sleeve shirt. I arrived with essentially nothing. At the counter, they assured me that the bag would likely arrive the next day and they would call me. No one ever called and no bag ever arrived. Each day I would have to go out and buy things, hoping that it would be the last day I would need to do that. I have no idea how much I spent on shoes, underwear, shirts, shorts, a bathing suit, toiletries, etc.

    No one ever offered me compensation for all the things I bought. And to add insult to injury, when I returned and filled out the lost luggage form, they lost that! I was in the process of refiling (luckily I hadn’t received the check yet or they would have destroyed my luggage per policy) when I got a call at work from Delta (I always use my business card in my luggage tag). It had been so long and I was so frustrated that I thought it was an elaborate prank by my coworkers. They had located my bag in Puerto Rico and it was now at an airport in Long Island (I had been to none of these airports). If they could get it on a flight that night, they would call me, otherwise they would deliver it to my work the next day. At 2am, I got a call from a delivery guy saying he would be at my house in 10 minutes. My bag had been missing for 6 weeks by then. And I never even got miles for my trouble.

    • July 16, 2015

      They would DESTROY the bag? That’s crazy! No matter how much the check was it would never cover the cost of everything lost on the suitcase!

      • July 16, 2015

        That’s what they said. It was only a maximum reimbursement of $250 and I had to itemize every single thing in the bag, when I got it, and how much I paid for it (trying to remember which pair of underwear or where I got my eyeliner was exhausting). My mouth guard alone was worth $200.
        On the form, I had to check a box that said once I receive payment for my lost luggage, it became their property and I did not have a right to it if it was ever found.
        Lesson learned — carry on unless you absolutely must check and then make sure the critical stuff is with you.

    • July 24, 2015

      Ugh, Nicole, that’s awful. The worst part is when you feel so helpless and nothing you can do can remedy the situation! We also never got ANY calls back from Delta, not when we were calling begging for mercy from Italy (roaming on our American cells), not after the fact when we were calling from home. I can’t even pinpoint at what point we finally started making headway in the claims process. Ridiculous that they make you work to find your own belongings.

  • July 16, 2015

    this story is absolutely insane. but the outfits are even more insane! i hate delta too. they’re just behind comcast on my jerk list.

    • July 24, 2015

      Yes! Comcast and Delta are #1 and 2 on mine, too. Add in Simmons, the mattress company, as a close third 😉

  • July 20, 2015

    OH. MY. GOD. I remember when you were going through that. I cannot believe all of that BS. Thai Airways lost my luggage years ago, and I didn’t even think to ask for compensation. I’m so glad Delta gave you $. It certainly doesn’t make up for anything, but nice to at least get something for your troubles. As for never flying them again, I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t, either.

  • July 21, 2015

    thanks for this very good post! I found it very interesting and useful! keep up the great work! looking forward to reading any other articles on your site!

  • July 24, 2015

    Appalling! That was so smart of you to contact the ombudsman… I can get pretty fired up and combative with things like this, but I’m also very lazy and I might have given up not knowing what to do – now I have a better idea how to react should it happen!

  • August 11, 2015

    the guy with the dress nailed it.

  • April 7, 2016

    Turkish Airlines lost three bags for three days and it was quite a feat to actually get them delivered. We spent a lot of our travel time in our hotel, waiting to get the luggage.
    But the worst part is that a full year has passed they still haven’t paid the lost baggage reimbursement. I’ve tried Twitter, Facebook, call centers. How does one go about getting corporate contact information?

    • April 7, 2016

      Ugh, Lauren, I’m so sorry. It took me FOREVER to find an email address and I eventually found one on Chris Elliott’s site. Try this link and see if it helps:

      • April 8, 2016

        Wow Kristin, THANK YOU so much. It’s great to have a. email for them, as they recently shut down their customer service email address. I wish you better luggage luck on your trip. If you do check anything, be sure to take a photo of each checked bag (this was essential in getting ours back) and be careful if you make a call. I just paid a 40 dollar phone bill for my call to their customer service line.

        • April 8, 2016

          When we had this experience with Delta, that was the most infuriating part! We made a minimum of seven calls to their U.S.-based customer service while in Italy on our cell phone. SO pricey!

          Thank you for those tips. I had already planned to carry on based on my last experience traveling to Europe, heh, but we’re gone for three weeks so I’m going to have to teach the others in my family the art of carrying on 😉

    • April 7, 2016

      Also, I just booked Turkish Air for this summer for me and seven family members so now I’m less than stoked and will definitely NOT be letting anyone check a bag!

  • May 15, 2016

    Well, I’m not even sure it’s a good thing to take carry-ons only . I was flying last Thursday from Detroit to JFK and Delta crew managed to lose my carry-on given from the cabin to them ( it didn’t fit in the overhead ..). I had all my ” precious” items in it, some jewelry , my US shopping at Ann Taylor and Talbots, gifts for my kids and , most important, my son who just graduated from UArts in Philly…. When we arrived in JFK, it took them 40′ to unload the carry-ons ( no idea why?)… We were already 1hour late so about 10 people flying to Europemissed their flight… A disaster and very little help. No more Delta , for sure , not even if you pay me!

    • May 18, 2016

      Oh MAN. And I always have to gate-check on small planes, too, as my carry-on is always the max size. I’m so sorry you had all that trouble! Did you ever get any sort of resolution (i.e. compensation)?

  • June 13, 2016

    Great post! I try to do carry-on only when I travel. I hate waiting for checked bags at the airport, and the possibility of my bag getting damaged or not arriving on my flight is enough to make me do carry-on.

  • July 29, 2016

    Stumbled upon this article after my first (and last) Delta experience. I flied a lot in the past, but this is a truly the worst air company ever.

    With the lost luggage both ways, they screwed us up everywhere else starting from lost special meals (10 hours flight!), lost seat placements, delayed flights that disrupted our plans, and long hours over the phone spent in waste over the same and same issues. We are sick of their worthless apologies, but will be fighting to get our compensations for all the stress and discomfort they caused us.

    Rule number one: never-ever fly with DELTA! Rule number two: carry on only.

    • July 29, 2016

      Nightmare, Victoria! We’re actually having to fly Delta (first time in two years!) to Europe later this month because Turkish Air (new least favorite airline) screwed us over in light of the military coup and we had to buy last minute tickets to Budapest, which were NOT cheap, and Delta was cheaper than the rest by half. Ugh. I’m so dreading that flight (but now I know to ONLY CARRY ON).

  • November 19, 2016

    I just returned from two weeks in Buenos Aires. I flew Delta. Big Mistake. I still don’t have the bag I checked from my departure city. That means I had a similar experience of being two continents from home and spending endless hours buying things like toothpaste and sunscreen and clothes and shoes instead of sightseeing.

    I also made so many international calls to try and find the bag. I was given a different story every day. One day the airline told me the bag would be delivered between 11am and 11 pm and I should look out for it. Two days later they told me that my husband had signed for it. I am not married. I filed a report at the gate and it seems that my case file number had been switched with another person’s. I found that out after being rudely informed by a Delta agent that I had no case file number on another international call. I still haven’t gotten the bill for all those calls. I am so beyond frustrated. I did feel like I would’ve had to have gone to law school to deal with that company. I understand that it’s not the fault of the person at the counter or on the phone or on Twitter and I was polite the whole time but Delta Airlines has been an awful experience.

    • November 21, 2016

      Heather, I always hate to hear these stories! Did your bag ever show up?

      And did you hear the (good, for a change) Delta news on baggage tracking for 2017? SO sad that a major airline can’t even do what it’s supposed to do—get passengers AND their belongings to their final destination—and has to resort to implementing such a policy.

  • January 18, 2017

    Those things you mentioned about “luggage arriving late” is kind of a common problem in this days. I am glad you shared this with us.

  • February 7, 2017

    My wife is an executive for a major Fortune 500 company. We are currently going through this nightmare now as Delta has lost her bag she packed for an 8 day business trip. Currently they have no idea where the bag is, if it never shows up, $3,300 would barely cover the amount of the items lost. With clothing, jewelry, shoes, makeup, and the bag itself. Not even to mention the shopping to replace said items for the trip, the time spent doing that instead of other work requiring her attention, and the mental stress (the reason I found your blog, was a Google search in response to her calling me in tears.)

    I’m disappointed to see that Delta continually comes up short in dealing with lost bags, and am nervous about the experiences we are about to encounter. We appreciate the tips and would love for you and your readers to keep them coming if you think of more!

    Wish us luck!!

    • February 8, 2017

      Ugh, Josh, that’s the worst. I’m so sorry! That arbitrary number that they’re willing to cover is such BS because they have no idea what was in the bag. One piece of jewelry alone could have been the sum they’re willing to fork over!

      We traveled to Europe again with Delta (only option from where we live) last fall, and they didn’t get our bags there till the next day. They have TWO jobs: getting passengers to their destination and their bags from Point A to Point B. And yet, they usually only manage one of those.

      I wish I could offer you assurance, but I’ll be holding out hope that the bag comes through for your wife!

  • June 26, 2017

    I am in London on a two week trip and delta lost all my luggage. I got on the phone with one of the reps named Sylvia after they had told me it would be in my possession and it was still no where to be found. She told me”there were much more important things in life to be upset about than lost luggage”…. thanks Sylvia.
    I told her I also had important migraine medication in the bag. She said “then see a doctor”…. again thanks Sylvia!
    It is like having a virus….. I wake up every morning and think oh god I still have this!!
    It is so nice to have this site to read! You feel like you are going crazy!!
    The people on the phone have zero empathy and make you feel like you are a superficial whiner for simply wanting the few personnel items you packed to stabilize yourself in a foreign country.
    I have cried everyday in the bathroom so as not to show my children what a whimpy weak mother they have. There is also the feeling of being stolen from. This is your stuff out there being escorted and handled without your consent in New York was the last recorded sighting of it.
    Uuugggg…. fingers crossed I get it soon.
    But trust me I will never check a single bag again. I hate Delta!!! I know that makes me a petty mean spirited person but I mean it from my heart!!

  • June 28, 2017
    Jorge villanueva

    I am tired of waiting for alitalia fuck airline to contact me for my lost luggage they don’t reply any more a even contact the Mexican embassy in Roma but they don’t have a way to help me. Alitalia lost my luggage on may 12 2017 flying from Mexico city to London via Rome. Is been more than a month and they have a autoreply thing on the mail and they don’t keep lying and saying same thing. So don’t fly fucking Alitalia is the worst airline in the world.

  • July 31, 2017

    I think before that I am the only person lost his luggage but their many people face this problem. I was read all comment and realize that is not only my problem that is the major problem for all traveler. I think every airline update them security system and safe our luggage and product. Thank you, everybody, for sharing your problem. Can you all tell me how to solve this problem?

  • August 8, 2017

    Are you lost your luggage. I think You buy a luggage. A luggage save and protect your instrument. Get a luggage save your protect your instrument.

  • December 28, 2017
    Chris C.

    Delta is at it again. Direct from JFK to BRU. Checked in 5 hours before the flight. Arrived in BRU only to find… no bag.

    All the same elements of the original post are still in play:
    – Delta insists on you calling using international numbers to get any kind of update on your bag (big $$, though we tried using Skype and the Delta reps yelled at us about using it and one actually hung up upon being told we had to use Skype). One unique aspect of this was that the two numbers we were originally given both didn’t work–one was on hold every time we called for nearly an hour.
    – Local airline “representing” Delta abroad (in this case, Swissport) has entirely incompetent staff and a huge line in the airport after landing (an hour and a half of waiting is our introduction to Europe)
    – Repeated misinformation and empty promises from Delta reps throughout the whole ordeal. At first they were sure it would arrive at our next hotel (we are changing cities every 2-3 days), then that it would surely come to next, then it was in Paris and would surely arrive the next day. It hasn’t.

    It is now Day 5 without luggage. We bought a few clothes and toiletries, but now we basically have to go shopping for more. We have been doing laundry in the sink.

    Delta has been incompetent and uncaring throughout this whole ordeal. The fact the we have no idea if they will give any kind of compensation at the end of this is…beyond belief.

    Thanks for your post, we will follow some of what y’all did and see where we can get.

    • December 31, 2017

      Go get them Chris! You’re owed a lot of money with all the expenses and hassle charge. Find out what it cost you then triple it for inconvenience, bookings lost while waiting for your clothes, etc. Keep hammering them until they start calling you with settlement offers then grind it back up as much as you can. The arrogance of the corporate culture of this particular airline is absolutely stunning, but you can win.

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