Please read entire story and then let me know if you think we can move forward with a case against the airline.
My wife and I went on vacation the first of weekend of May this year (2013). The airlines lost our bags before our first flight started out of Columbus. There was a delay in the flight crew and being that we would miss our flight on the first connection they transferred my wife and I from American Airlines to US Airways. They misplaced our check in bag (which was the only bag we took) during the transferred. Before we got on our flight they told us they could not locate the bag and it may follow us to Philadelphia or be sent to our original connection destination which was in New York. If it went to New York than we may not receive the bags because bags must Fly with the passage. (although they ultimately put us on the flight without our bags)
We got on the flight worried that our baggage would not make it. Immediately upon arrival in Philly we located a US Airways help center. They told us our bag where labeled wrong in Columbus and an invalid airport was entered. They told us our bag may be heading to San Juan. We were on our way to Punta Cana, DR. At this point we were in Philly, stressed and concerned we may not get our bags at all. Even the rep told us it might not even make it to Punta Cana, DR at all.
So before boarding our next flight from Philadelphia to Punta Cana, DR we asked the customer service counter at our gate. She advised she could not locate our bags. At this point my wife and I were very concerned that we would not get our bags upon arriving in Punta Cana (11:45pm eastern time).
Upon arrival our fear was made into a reality. We did not have our luggage. We contacted the only person we could find at Punta Cana airport that worked for US Airways. She advised our bag were not in the system. Had us fill out a baggage claim report and told us to call in the morning.
So at this point we are left in a foreign country with only the clothes on our backs. We arrived at the Resort in casual dress for Columbus, OH weather. It was 50 degrees when we left. It was 85 degrees when we got to Punta Cana.
Hungry and stressed beyond belief. The airline had left us with no knowledge of where our luggage is at this point. We believed what some of the agents at the airports told us, we may not even receive our bags at all.
The next morning we called the airport and they said they were still unable to locate our luggage. So we turned to calling the National baggage claim center with US Airways. Phone calls cost about $3 per minute to call out. We had to use a cell phone so the rate was about $3.15 a minute. They put us on hold and transferred us several times. In the end when we got our AT&T bill (a couple days ago) the phone calls cost us an additional $110 due to this. Once we finally got a representative that could help they advised us to purchase clothes and things we needed.
Keep in mind that we are in a foreign country, no idea where to go shopping, conversion rates on the dollar and concerned for our safety. We were staying at a fairly large resort with dress codes. The resort had a mall built inside the premises so we choose that shopping location to stay safe. We purchased very minimum clothing (no shoes, sandals or formal attire). The prices were in our opinion pricey but again in a foreign country with limited access to any shops we had to purchase clothes, deodorant, toothpaste, underwear, shaving utensils and other essential items. The total bill was just around $1200 for my wife and I. Now a vacation we saved up for years to take just turned into a nightmare on a financial front because the airline lost our luggage. Any money we planned on spending during the vacation is no longer available. (their mistake cost us on several extra activities we had planned for but could not take because we did not have the money now)
Still no calls from the airlines and with minimum clothing (although sounds like we should have tons at that price) we call the airlines waiting for an answer. Remember this is being charged to our room account at $3 a minute. The representatives could not locate the bag still. So we spend our first day out of 4 days at our resort worrying, broke and by a phone most of the day. We still need our clothes and we are trying to stay hopeful.
We call the airport again later in the afternoon (because they keep telling us to call them back) and they said our bags have arrived and they will be sent to our door. This was several hours after they told us to purchase clothes and other items. Around 8 or 9 that night we finally received them. We thought all would be ok. The airlines cost us around 1400 dollars out of pocket and one solid day of our vacation (25% of the total time) plus missed opportunities on events we had planned due to our financial situation.
When we arrived back into Columbus - the follow morning I submitted my paperwork to the airlines as we were instructed to do. After hearing nothing from them on our claim we called several times but always had to leave a message. They had a rep call back twice but could not provide details on the claim. Senseless call that was not informative. After about 2 weeks we got a Check in the mail for $500 no explanation at all. The following day we received another letter stating $500 we reasonable amount and (in other words) that was all they were going to pay us. Our claim was for about $1350 plus 2 tickets to compensate for the stress and time lost during our vacation. Which we felt was completely reasonable. We provided detail receipts of the cost associated with the expenses occurred during the trip.
We have submitted a formal letter (no one will talk to us on the phone about the claim) via email. One representative told us they received the letter on May 29th but they had no further info and we would be contacted by mail of the outcome. Nothing as of today.
If they do not agree to pay the full amount we would like to sue the airline for the damages caused. I am not looking for anything more than what they cost us during our trip. The have mishandle this case from start to finish and we feel that they are obligated to fulfill the total amount requested.
What type of legal representation is needed in this case and is there anyone willing to help us with this legally? If so, what type of fees are we looking at?
1 Answer from Attorneys
Sounds like you may have a claim against the airline for negligence and possibly under the consumer sales practices act. If you purchased etickets such that there was no language in writing that could act as a waiver or a limitation upon your claims, it might be worth speaking with an attorney about suing.
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