Your Valuables Are Stolen
What happened: You boarded a flight with a bag you thought would easily fit in the overhead compartment. But because the flight was so full, the flight attendant insisted that you check it. When you got to your destination, you found that your video camera was broken and that jewelry and other valuables were missing.
What the airline should do for you: What it should do for you is one thing; what it will do for you may be nothing. The same $2,800 liability limit applies to damaged items (subject to depreciation). However, Perkins notes that airlines routinely “deny all responsibility for certain classes of personal effects in checked baggage, including currency; business items, such as samples and parts; valuable papers; jewelry; cameras; and electronics.”
Next time: Pack valuables in a smaller bag within your suitcase so that they’re easy to remove and keep with you if necessary.
Your Luggage Is LostWhat happened: You flew to Hawaii for your honeymoon, but everything you packed for the beach went off on a vacation of its own.
What the airline should do for you: U.S. law sets the maximum lost-luggage payment at $2,800 per passenger on a depreciated basis (meaning the airline will value your items below their purchase price because they’re considered used). There’s no federally mandated compensation for luggage that is only delayed, even if the delay is significant.
Next time: Pack as lightly as possible to avoid checking bags in the first place. If that’s not possible, carry on medicines, any valuable items, and a change of clothes. If you’ve acquired a valuable or breakable souvenir that you must bring on board, ship home any less fragile items you won’t need right away, such as beach reads and guidebooks. Also, put your name, home address, and phone numbers both outside and inside your bags, along with a note indicating where you’ll be staying, advises Todd Burke, vice president of corporate communications for JetBlue, in Forest Hills, New York. And “make sure you have a list of everything you packed,” suggests Bill McGee, a travel writer with Consumer Reports WebWatch. “Or take a photo of everything laid out on the bed before leaving.” Present this documentation at the airport when you file your claim.