What Really Happened to Your Luggage
So now we know what we suspected back in August is true:
The volume of "mishandled baggage"--delayed, damaged, lost, or stolen bags--spiked 25 percent after the liquid ban took effect August 10.
Transportation Security Administration officials banned passengers from carrying liquids and gels onto flights after British authorities uncovered a plot to explode planes flying from the U.K. to the U.S. using liquid explosives.
TSA has since allowed travel-sized liquid and gel items tucked "comfortably" into a one-quart clear plastic bag.
Back in the bad old days of August, however, banned items, such as shampoo, perfume, and toothpaste had to either go in the trash or in checked luggage. Not surprisingly, the Department of Transportation data show the amount of checked luggage rose 20 percent in the wake of the ban as compared with July.
As I've mentioned in this space before, during the initial frenzy of the liquid ban, several airlines downplayed any operational snafus, including an uptick in lost or damaged luggage. It turns out, though, that some of them, including Delta and United, could have used some help with their bags.
As The Post's Del Quentin Wilber reported yesterday, Delta's rate of mishandled baggage reports jumped by 36 percent and United's rose by almost 35 percent.
If you're curious about how other airlines fared, here's a sampling based on the DOT data. I compared the August statistics for number of reports per 1,000 customers to July's.
Reports of mishandled bags rose:
50 percent at JetBlue Airways
32 percent at ATA Airlines
27 percent at Southwest Airlines
22 percent at Northwest Airlines
19 percent at American Airlines
18 percent at AirTran Airways
10 percent at Frontier Airlines
3 percent at Continental Airlines
The volume of checked luggage has begun to subside, which, we hope, will reduce the number of mishandled bags.
In August, my colleagues had also asked about what DOT likes to call "pilferage" from bags. But that isn't broken out of the mishandled baggage data, so we don't know whether that also increased.
After our last entry on the TSA restrictions, Brooke King wrote in to say that a cellphone charger went missing after she traveled Labor Day week. TSA seemed to have searched her bag but didn't leave the usual note saying they had been there. When she called the airline, she was told the company was responsible only for clothing and toiletries in checked baggage. She was not compensated for the charger.
If you find yourself in Brooke's shoes, and are motivated enough to seek redress and compensation, you have to file a claim with both TSA and the airline, according to information prepared by the House Transportation Committee Aviation Subcommittee for a hearing in May.
To reach consumer contacts at the airlines, go to http://airconsumer.ost.dot.gov/publications/contacts.doc.
To file a claim with TSA, go to http://www.tsaclaims.org/forms.htm.
According to the House Aviation Subcommittee backgrounder for the hearing, TSA pays some amount of compensation on approximately 47 percent of claims received. In fiscal year 2005, TSA paid $2.3 million to settle claims.
Have you ever tried getting reimbursed for your "mishandled" luggage, either from an airline or TSA? How did it go?
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