Is there an ex­cep­tion for a missed lug­gage claim dead­line?

Baltimore Sun Sunday - - TRAVEL - By Christo­pher El­liott

A: I’m sorry to hear about your lug­gage. Delta should have taken greater care of your lug­gage when you were trav­el­ing.

Delta is both right — and wrong. It’s right in the sense that you had 24 hours to file a claim.

That’s pretty stan­dard for do­mes­tic flights. You have a week for most in­ter­na­tional flights. But Delta shouldn’t have led you to be­lieve you had a valid claim, and it should have re­viewed your cir­cum­stances be­fore sum­mar­ily dis­miss­ing your claim. In­stead, Delta asked you for photos and doc­u­men­ta­tion of your loss. Some­one at Delta could have eas­ily looked at the

I re­cently flew from Iowa City, Iowa, to Prov­i­dence, Rhode Is­land, on Delta Air Lines. While we were on a stopover in Detroit, the lug­gage han­dlers ap­par­ently left my bag out­side dur­ing a thun­der­storm. The air­line de­layed and ul­ti­mately can­celed my flight be­cause of the storm.

When I re­trieved my bag from the bag­gage claim carousel, it was soak­ing, and the pull-up han­dle no longer worked. I con­tacted Delta three days later when my daugh­ter came to visit to help with the de­tails. Delta be­gan to process my com­plaint. The air­line pro­vided in­struc­tions and the need for de­tails like photos and re­ceipts. I ac­com­mo­dated these re­quests.

Then, to my dis­may, Delta abruptly in­formed me that since more than 24 hours had passed be­fore I made the claim, it was thrown out. I’m 90 years old. I sim­ply wanted help with the tech­nol­ogy, and I was ex­hausted from the or­deal. No one at any time sug­gested I had to do this within 24 hours of my flight. Thank you for your help in the mat­ter that has caused me much angst. time­line and saved you all the pa­per­work.

You def­i­nitely missed your lug­gage claim dead­line. But you know that say­ing, “Rules were meant to be bro­ken”? Well, I know I may get my­self into trou­ble for writ­ing this, but Delta should have taken your age into ac­count, not to men­tion that no one told you about the 24-hour dead­line. Some pas­sen­gers need ex­tra as­sis­tance, and I be­lieve Delta should have con­sid­ered help­ing you de­spite the rules.

If you ever find your­self in a sit­u­a­tion like this again, you can al­ways ap­peal to an ex­ec­u­tive at the air­line. I list the names, num­bers and email ad­dresses of the cus­tomer ser­vice ex­ec­u­tives at Delta Air Lines on my non­profit con­sumer ad­vo­cacy site, El­liott.org.

I con­tacted Delta on your be­half. The air­line was un­der no obli­ga­tion to help you, of course, but when it re­viewed your claim, it de­cided to re­place your dam­aged bag. That’s the right call.

Christo­pher El­liott is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Ge­o­graphic Trav­eler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Trav­eler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at [email protected]­liott.org.

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