As a travel writer and editor, Kyle Stewart travels as part of his job and he’s visited more than 50 countries, stepping foot on every continent except Antarctica.
After coming home from a long trip to Thailand over the winter holidays, he encountered a new American Airlines policy regarding damaged luggage.
“I had made it the entire trip without gate-checking a bag despite eight flights during the trip and lots of carry-on bags—that was until the very last flight,” he says. “I was forced to gate-check my Rimowa Topas ahead of a commuter flight from Chicago to Pittsburgh on a regional jet and when I collected my bag and started down the hallway, I noticed it was difficult to maneuver.”
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As he strode farther, he examined the wheels of the case and discovered that one of the wheels had been split in half.
“I took my case into the American Airlines baggage room at Pittsburgh International Airport and was informed that just after the new year American Airlines installed a new policy to evaluate and in some cases repair damaged luggage,” he says. “The agent filled out the form (I transferred my things to another bag where I had room) and I left the bag.”
A week later, a box arrived at his door with his repaired luggage without any further requirements from him.
“It was a fantastic policy and a quick fix,” Stewart says. “While I would have preferred my bag to have never been damaged in the first place, the carrier fixed it promptly and shipped it to my door within a week with no complaints.”
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Accidents happen in every business; it’s how a business handles those mistakes that makes or breaks a company. American’s response was one hopefully all airlines will follow.
According to a spokesperson for American Airlines, the airline does not do its own repairs, utilizing Rynn’s Luggage service as its primary partner.
“Many times, we will offer the customer the option to replace their luggage with one at comparable value,” the spokesperson says. “This policy has been in a place for some time and it’s one that has helped many of our customers.”
Rynn’s Luggage was founded in 1983 and is the largest airline luggage repair and replacement service in the country, working with numerous airlines. It handles thousands of pieces of luggage each month.
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Stewart notes his bag was definitely completed by a third party. Not only was the wheel repaired, but the company also replaced the interior compartment compressors.
While the AA spokesperson could not guarantee that all luggage would be replaced, he did say that if a passenger takes photos, files all documentation within 24 hours and can physically show the damage, the airline would repair it within a week at no cost. We made a simple checklist on what to do in case your luggage was damaged:
- Take photos of your luggage before dispatching it.
- File a damage report within 24 hours of retrieving your baggage from the carousel.
- You then have 30 days to present your damaged luggage to the airline for repairs.
- Prove that your bag met the strict requirements outlined in its baggage policies.
It’s that kind of peace of mind that should make anyone travelling feel good about. Just as LugLoc (lugloc.com) offers travellers the ability to track any bags. By purchasing a tracking system, which combines GSM and Bluetooth technology, and then downloading a simple app, passengers can simply tap to the app, and a map will appear showing the location of any bag, regardless of where in the world it is.