Topic of the Week: Delta’s Bag Handling


When I posted my trip report last week and mentioned that Delta damaged our stroller, a commenter requested that I report back. Well, we received notification from Delta on Wednesday that a check was in the mail to cover the stroller. While we did have to submit all the receipts and do all that work, it was a pretty painless process. Anyone else had experience with Delta lately with mishandled bags? No need to stop at Delta – how has everyone else been doing?

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36 comments on “Topic of the Week: Delta’s Bag Handling

  1. Yes, we had a writer go out to the East Coast and American left his bag in his departure city. He’s still trying to track it down. The funny part is this writer just published a pieces about checking bags. It was a little ironic.

    1. We were actually shocked to find out that they’re paying the replacement value of the stroller. The damage was something that couldn’t be fixed and required a new stroller, but we were really surprised that they were willing to pay for it.

  2. Recently had a terrible Southwest experience. My golf bag was damaged, and when I went to file a claim, I was told in FLL that they would not let me submit a claim. The agent would not give me the form, and told me to leave the airport and send an email to Southwest if I really cared. I was first told golf clubs are checked as-is. But when I said it wasn’t the clubs that were damaged but the giant, obvious tear down the side of the bag, she looked and pointed to the wheels. I was told because the wheels were damaged also, that the bag suddenly doesn’t qualify as wheel damage isn’t covered and the tear would be on the same claim.

    As a frequent Southwest customer, I was disappointed, angry, and wanted to file a DOT report, but I got lazy and let it go…

    You’d think with fewer checked bags and fees to cover the cost of handling, airlines would at least show better service….

    1. I encourage you to file it. No airline can refuse your right to file a calm. Although not a fan of WN sometimes complaining is the only way an agent gets proper training.

      1. i shoould have photo-ed the agent who refused to let me file a claim at the jacksonville fl airport-us airways baggage center but intend to do so and have taken pics of the new bag that is now trashed we usually never check bags this was an exception but never again…

        1. taking a “gotcha” photo of an agent at work in the airport is a dicey proposition at best. if he or she (or the airline) catches wind of it, you will have to deal with that airline’s corporate security team and most likely the local police department.

  3. i just came back from nice-frankfurt to philadelphia via usairways got my (our) one bag ( a brand new one )RETURNED TO US in phila. to go thru customs and immigration… the bag was in prestine–perfect condition… when i saw it when we got to jacksonvill,fl it looked like it had been run over by a truck(crushed) and a wheel was missing… i took it to the us airways luggage prob center and they said WE DO NOT COVER WHEELS AND HANDLES ON LUGGAGE?????? SO CANNOT TAKE INFO FOR WRITE-UP SO WHAT TO DO… THIS WAS THE FIRST TRIP THIS BAG WAS ON,,,,,AND NOT IT IS GONE ($90.00) FYI

  4. Last year we had a badly damaged suitcase coming into International Terminal at O”hare ORD…. Filled out a claim form… manager looked at it then took us
    to a room right in Terminal # 5 and we got a new suit case right then and there.. It was a code share flight United/Lufthansa.. I have heard other horror stories but, as a 1 K with United I must admit I was taken care of quickly…

    1. I had the same thing happen about 10 years ago with Hawaiian Airlines in Hilo. When I showed the agent the damaged suitcase, he went in the back and got out a new one, offered either that or the value to go out and buy one. I took the one they offered, and it’s still in good shape.

  5. I think a lot of time it the airline worker you just happen to deal with that can make all the difference on the out come of the problem.

    But one should never stop with the airport worker if they say nothing can be done, always go right to the airlines headquarters. It can’t hurt and you may get your problem solved.

    Hint: Since just about everyone had a cell phone with a camera, take a couple of photos of your checked bags after the agent puts those tags on them. If something happens you can send a letter and those photos to the head of the airline and show proof the bags were ok when THEIR employee took them and not when you claimed them.

    1. Isn’t the fact that an employee has taken the luggage an admission that it is in satisfactory condition? I know in the past if you hand them a broken bag to check, they have a form that you declare and sign that it was broken when you gave it to them, thus releasing them from liability.

  6. I was on a Delta connection (Pinnacle) flight this week, on a commuter jet where they gate check bags. It was in great condition when I left Detroit and was missing an entire wheel apparatus when I picked it up in Burlington. The agent at the ticket counter was quite curt and told me that “they don’t cover wheels or zippers.” On the day of my return flight I stopped by and asked to see the supervisor. I calmly explained the situation and he offered me a $100 travel voucher for my trouble. It didn’t fix the suitcase, but it did leave me a whole lot happier than I had been!

  7. While I’ve certainly seen some egregious mishandling of bags, and theres always the issue of outright theft, I think most peoples expectations in regards to baggage is unrealistic. We want things to be quick, expedited, but yet somehow with little to no damage to baggage that, in many cases, is not sufficiently sturdy. I’ve had my carry on and hard suitcase for roughly 6 years, and I expect a certain amount of wear and tear. When they finally both give out, I doubt I will even bother to send in a form, as they’ve given me sufficient shelf life.

    1. exactly……………remember the purpose of the bag. It’s to protect the items inside, it was never, ever remain pristine, even after one trip on the OUTSIDE. I do over 40 flights a MONTH. Travel with my bag onboard the aircraft and my TRAVELPRO usually lasts only 4 to 5 years. Wheels go first. Bearings get bad and I replace them with roller blading wheels. Easy, breezy. Then usually the handle will go. Stop coming up easily. After that, I request a new one. Suitcases arent made that well, heck, it they were, the luggage companies wouldnt profit from all the news ones they make.

  8. When my mom got home from a vacation she found the inside lining of her suitcase ripped and several items stolen. American said because she didn’t report it within four hours of arrival she was out of luck. Only problem was she was on the last flight before a hurricane hit, which closed the airport for a day. By the time she could notify the local station they denied her claim. I tried to get her to pursue it further, but she just gave up.

  9. Several years ago ORD-BOS, upon arriving in BOS, found my duffle bag come off the conveyor belt patched together with duct tape. Took it to the baggage office and, after arguing a few minutes, ended up with a new duffle bag they had in the back. Nicer and bigger than the one they killed, actually.

  10. I just returned from an overseas trip with Delta. When I returned to PHX the side handle had been ripped loose. The handle was fine in LAX when I cleared customs. I took it to the DL bag office and was out of there with the paperwork for a free FedEx pick and return plus free repair in about 5-7 minutes. I wonder if being on a business class ticket and being a Diamond FF helped?

  11. I guess i might have the worst and best lost luggage experience. I was travelling to Siem Reap Cambodia when it all started. Delta’s ATL-JFK was late by 3 hours causing me to miss my Emirates flight. I checked for my bags at SIN no luck. Before I started to smell to bad it was off to Mustafa’s in SIN to get clothing to wear for the week. In KUL I checked again and also in Siam Reap. No luck anywhere. & days at the end of the world without luggage!!! On the return legs I checked at each stop. No luck. When I got back home to ATL I put in a claim with Delta and magically the next day the bag was delivered to my opffice in good shape. The whole experience was kind of fun. I have enjoyed telling the story of my midnight shopping trip. If I had not lost luggage I would never have had the Mustafa’s experience. if it wasn’t for the guy at AIr France SIN I would never have heard of Mustafa’s and would have smelled like an old piece of cheese through out my adventure!!! The moto is to always carry on a few pieces of clothing and such!!!!

  12. Same as RICH on May 4 above. One time, DL really broke my bag. I went to their desk to file a claim. The guy said to follow him. We went down the hall. He unlocked a door to a room with a lot of new bags. he said, “Pick one”. JM

  13. UsAir recently lost my golf clubs on a connecting flight from Philadelphia to Richmond.
    We arrived at 8:45 PM, filed a lost luggage claim and drove home – about 90 miles away.
    Early the next morning, a gentleman from the baggage delivery company was at the door with the missing clubs. Excellent service and if you are a fanatical golfer like me, there are times when you wish they would stay missing.

  14. Years and years ago, we ago, flew Mexicana to Cabo. One piece of my luggage was left on the plane which had already departed for Mexico City. “Sorry, no return plane for 3 days.” So, we tried to purchase new stuff in Cabo. Back then … “sorry, no underwear. Go to La Paz.” Fortunately, I’d packed a couple of emergency clothes in my wife’s suitcase. Always cross polenate our luggage when we travel now and carry a day of clothing in our cabin bags just in case. Most of the time when we fly we presume the checked bags will be abused. Unless it’s destroyed, we never even bother to complain. Not worth the effort.

  15. i’m pretty sure that the only reason delta accommodated you is that you write about aviation. that type of service does not happen to everyday customers.

    1. That’s sort of what I was wondering. I’m not so sure, however. That would mean they put a lot more stock in what I write than I imagine they would, and they’re playing with fire. If I ever found that I was being treated differently, I wouldn’t be happy and they know that, I think. But honestly, I can’t imagine I’m important enough for them to really pay close attention to something when I travel.

      Maybe some Delta employees can pull up my record and see if there are any notations in there? If so, email me and I can send details.

      But the people we dealt with at the airport wouldn’t have known either way. When we arrived back in LA, we found the stroller was damaged as we walked off the airplane. We grabbed a gate agent who had us talk to a supervisor. She had no way of knowing anything about me, but she said to make sure to file a claim in the baggage office because they should cover it.

      I didn’t even go in the baggage office until it was almost done. My wife did everything and the claim was in her name. The agent there was great as well.

      When it came time to decide whether to reimburse or not, could someone have looked up who I was? I suppose, but I’m just not sure. Everyone was so helpful the whole way through the process that I think we may have just had some great people helping us through it.

      1. When it comes down to deciding to reimburse or not depends on the type of damage and whether the item was tagged as conditional acceptance. Most carriers tag strollers with conditional acceptance tags (which must be signed by the passenger in the presence of an agent indicating the passenger has been advised the carrier is liable for loss or delay but not damage). Delta\’s Contract of Carriage doesn\’t seem to specifically mention strollers, although it does say the carrier will reimburse for damages at replacement cost less depreciation. From the other comments, it certainly sounds like the way your situation was handled wasn\’t anything out of the ordinary for Delta – looks like they typically do a great job resoving bag damage claims.

    2. Not necessarily. I was on Delta 2 years ago to Anchorage, and when I got my bad, the entire frame was bent. Couldn’t be fixed. Went to the Delta counter, they looked at the bag, apologized, and gave me a brand new one right on the spot.

  16. Last fall, I was on SEA-STL Alaska Airlines flight, and my bag was not in baggage claim upon arrival. No problem, I thought, so I went to the AS baggage claim, where they said my bag did not make it on the flight, but that it would be in on the next day’s flight and they would deliver it to my house. The next afternoon, I received a call from Alaska and they said my bad had sustained ‘some’ damage. My bag came a couple hours later with only a small tear that I would have considered normal. I also received an email apologizing for the damage and a $100 travel voucher for replacement costs. I also received 2K miles. Both gestures were unnecessary but greatly appreciated and reinforced my conviction that Alaska Airlines’ customer service is second to none. Last summer on a Southwest flight, my bag received two tears approximately six inches and baggage claim said it was not significant enough to warrant any compensation. I was OK with that, too. I firmly believe in the mantra that baggage is designed to protect the contents inside and pretty much anything can and eventually will happen to the outside.

    1. That is a great example of how service can differentiate an airline. One, they took care to notice; two, they offered you a small gesture. Impressive.

  17. I am the poster who requested the follow-up. Thanks, Cranky! I am glad to see that you were compensated for the stroller, as it sounded like the damage to the stroller was more than “normal wear and tear,” etc. Good job, Delta.

  18. My first and LAST time ever flying American Airlines. On a flight from JFK to SJU, my brand new suitcase was damaged with a giant tear down the front pocket, from zipper to lower left corner. I took it to customer service, they told me I had to file my claim on my return trip to JFK. I asked the agent why I couldn’t file a claim there, seeing how it was a hub for the airline, I was told they do not process claims at that airport.

    My return to JFK proved problematic also. Now down a front pocket, I had to stuff all of its contents into my carry on, leaving less room for the items I originally had in it. To make room for those contents, I put 2 pairs of designer sunglasses ( each one above $200) in the main compartment of my suitcase, but stuffed in the middle between clothing, and locked it with a TSA lock. Back at JFK, I knew something was suspicious because when my suitcase came onto the conveyor belt, the zippers were on the wrong side of the bag. I checked inside, and of course, my sunglasses are gone. I make my way over to customer service and tell them everything, about my experience on the way down, to the theft I discovered at JFK.

    The agent starts by telling me that the agent at SJU was wrong, a claim could have been filed there, but it more likely would be denied because the tear started at the zipper, which the airline does not cover and because I left the airport before filing a claim. As for the sunglasses, I was told that those would not be covered at all because there was no way to prove they were in the bag. I asked her to repeat that again, because now thanks to their airline, I was out over $600 in merchandise (bag included) due to employee incompetence and theft in a situation I had no control over? She calmly looked at me and said yes. I was offered no travel voucher, no meal, not even a toothbrush for my inconvenience. Like I said, the First and LAST time I will EVER travel on American Airlines.

  19. Delta have always been good when bag issues occurred. I have had either the bag-room-pick-a-bag, or a repair service. Air France however is a whole other story…

    You can’t blame airlines not taking responsibility for exterior protrusions such as wheels or handles. The inner workings of the baggage facilities in an airport is – as we all know – a labyrinth of conveyer belts and other moving pieces. Anything can get caught on something there. Most big brand luggage manufacturers (eg Tumi or Samsonite) manufacture for this, and also offer warranties.

  20. My last delayed bag problem on WN was a disaster. Flying from LIT to HOU via DAL, the first leg was fine, but all legs from DAL to HOU were delayed 2+ hours for some reason. This would have gotten me to Houston past midnight, so I asked to be put on an earlier flight, which WN obliged, and claimed my bags would be transferred to the new flight, which was to arrive about 10 P.M. Of course, bags didn’t show up, and I was told rather rudely by the customer service agent that she had no idea where the bag was but that it was probably on the original flight. So I ended up sitting around at HOU for better than 2 hours. No apology, no offer of compensation, nothing, except for a “if you don’t want to wait, you can come back at 7 A.M. tomorrow morning to pick it up”. I guess I should count myself lucky that the bag at least showed.

  21. I realize this is 7 months past post but we just had this same issue – only we still have no results. We brought our $700 stroller on a holiday trip to NYC – because in NYC strollers are essential. We flew Sky Priority and gate checked our stroller thinking it would be safer. When the baggage handler handed it to us at the gate, he showed us the damage. They’d ripped the safety bar off and bent the wheel well. He was upset for us and very kind and told us to go file a claim.

    The baggage person wanted to give us a $20 umbrella loaner while they attempted to “fix” the damage. I wasn’t comfortable with that. I’ve been trying to work with Delta via Twitter but to no avail. Any advice? I’m not giving up. And I’m not really comfortable with fixing a stroller – especially with the damage caused.

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