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Baggage Issues with USAir (warning: novel inside)

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
Just got back from a week in summit county. Flew into Denver on the 26th with a connecting flight going through philly. Apparently, the plane from philly to denver was overweight and they decided to leave some baggage off the plane, which put myself and the rest of my family without any luggage: skis, clothing, etc. 7 bags in total.

There were two more flights into denver that night, but they couldn't tell us if our bags would be on one, in fact they could only guess at that point that the bags were in philly. They had no tracking system. We filled out a baggage form, left our address and phones.

So we drove up to frisco, hoping they would deliver our bags later that night. Last time I flew with a bunch of people skiing, someone flying northwest had their bag miss a plane, but he got it the same night.

Later that night we started calling people. The baggage counter at Denver refused to answer the phone. We called central booking, customer service, the dividend miles customer service, etc, etc and got nothing, even the usair customer service people couldn't get ahold of the usair baggage counter at denver, and no one was willing to help us beyond that, the people on the phone were unwilling even to transfer us to a manager. Finally, we expressed interest in filing a police report for insurance purposes, and I think that finally got their attention. We got a manager, who gave us some additional contact information and promised to follow up with the baggage counter, serve as a point of contact, although he too was unable to get them to pick up the phone or really help us.

The next morning, we called the baggage counter at ~7am and they finally picked up. My father handled most of these calls so I'm not sure exactly what happened but after speaking with the baggage counter and calling another usair office, the bags were found later that morning. They had been there since midnight the night before. That day, my brother and I skiied in rentals and jeans while my father waited for the baggage to arrive. (luckily we all brought our boots onto the plane). At the end of the day, we still had no luggage. In the morning, about 9am they indicated the luggage should be delivered within about 6 hours, so at 4pm we were on the phones again, and again the baggage counter wouldn't pick up for anyone.

That night, at about 9pm a delivery guy finally showed up!!! We were very happy as he unloaded one ski bag, two ski bags, three ski bags, one suitcase, then..... a random cardboard box, another cardboard box, and an unmarked suitcase.

These last three bags were not ours, and two of them weren't even bags, just a cardboard copy-paper box wrapped in shipping tape. Very, very sketchy. The delivery guy of course couldn't help us and we really didn't expect him to (just the messenger after all...). So we all had our skis, but only one suitcase. I was pretty pissed. We got on the phones again and ran into the same bullshit: no answer at denver, no help from customer service. I looked up the denver airport customer service, no answer. Denver airport security police, an odd message redirecting to airport customer service.

My father finally made some headway when he expressed concern that delivering a random package to someone is a huge security problem. There could have been anything in those boxes, they weren't normal suitcases and the weren't marked with our name. "they could have had Christmas presents, drugs, or a bomb inside, and there's no way for us to tell".

Again, this seemed to get their attention. He spoke with a manager for a while, with the desire that the next time they deliver some luggage to us, that it is ours and not another random box. This manager got in touch with the people that handle all the late luggage deliveries, and after it was clear that this wasn't a problem with a 'sketchy driver', the luggage center was searched and our bags were not found, but at least we ended the night with the phone number of the guy that handles all the late luggage from the baggage center as well as the priority that no more random boxes be delivered.

Finally, the next day they figured out that our luggage was mistakenly given to a driver (sorted by destination by usair baggage employees) to deliver in Steamboat, and the delivery company would get it to us as soon as they could transfer it over. We finally got our last three bags at about 10pm the night before our last ski day there! The days before we skiied in a combination of jeans, snowpants purchased at walmart, sweaters, hats, old goggles we happened to find, etc. Not what I pictured for our vacation.

To be sure, some of the delay was due to problems with weather, but it was mostly due to incompetence, apathy, and a lack of accountability by most of the employees of usair. We were lucky to miss the huge delays/ etc with the snow in denver just before christmas.

To top it all off, on our way back we had a stopover in Charlotte, NC. The flight got in a little late but we were at the airport for about a half hour before our next flight left the gate. Of course, none of our luggage made it on the plane! So now we were home with no luggage again. This time, they delivered it at about 1pm the next day (that was today).

I know that this is a somewhat rare occurance, but I for one will never fly USAir on a ski trip, or any other trip where your luggage is really, really important to the trip. Like I said, other airlines have been known to deliver luggage the same night, even if it is 3am, and I would have been OK with that.

I would suggest checking to see if the airline has a baggage tracking system. I know that American is in the process of implementing a full fedex style baggage tracking system so that they can tell you when and where your baggage arrived at every juncture of your travel. Sounds like I'll be flying with them in the future.

Luckily, we didn't let the ordeal ruin the trip but it did take up a lot of time and worrying, and I hope it never happens again. We should be reimbursed for the few things we bought to tide us over and we're hoping to get our tickets reimbursed with miles.
post #2 of 22
I'm sorry to say this, but this story mirrors my observations of too many "services" in the US. Lack of accountability is huge here. No one is responsible. No one cares enough to prevent stuffups. No one is held accountable, and no-one cares.

They should do a damn sight more than reimburse you for the walmart stuff you bought! They owe you compensation for a wrecked holiday. And not in crappy miles either.
post #3 of 22
Why is it, Fedex,UPS and other overnight freight companies, can track every single packege. Yet not one single airline does?
Airlines need to step up, and catch on.
After reading these lost bag stories, im think of shipping via the over night companies, next time i fly. May cost more in the long run, but hey i'll have clean underware, and pit juice in the morning
post #4 of 22
Sheesh, that is quite the ordeal you had to go through. I'm sorry it messed up your vacation.

I fly with US Airways all the time, and I have nothing bad to say about them, at least not yet. I am going skiing in a month, and one of my layovers is only 35 minutes.... I just hope that is enough time to get my bags from plane A to plane B.

And Ant, have more faith in the US. There was a major blizzard in Denver, and there were thousands of people stuck in the airport. Everyone was going crazy, and the "all-weather" airport was burried in snow and closed for 2 days. US Air cant control the weather. I cant imagine the logistical nightmare they were dealing with. They are not financially responsible for delayed luggage... that's what travel insurance is for.

I think they should give you a bunch of miles though.

Origonally, baggage did not need a complicated tracking system like FedEx/UPS/etc has... but things have changed. Airlines are in the business of moving people, the luggage is just an added task. A tracking system is only needed when something gets lost, but otherwise, there are only so many planes on the ground, and usually not more then 3 going to a specific location during a certain time frame. When luggage misses a flight, then all hell breaks loose, and the luggage ends up who knows where.

We are in a different world today. Due to increased security, a whole lot more luggage is being checked. Several airlines are looking into a RFID tag system, which would help a lot, as bags can be located anyplace in the abyss under the airport, without a visual tag having to be scanned.
post #5 of 22
That's a sad and revealing story. I know a guy that worked 17 years for US Air in baggage and he said it was a "mess" and not well managed at all. During the holidays guys would call in sick so they didn't have to handle the increased luggage,they were always under staffed at peak times etc. WEhen they won't answer the phone you're in trouble.
post #6 of 22
I'm in the process of writing a letter to Delta regarding the mess they made with my bags on my trip to Stowe.

To give you an idea, I travelled a round trip of 8,238 miles. My clothes travelled over 25,000 miles!
post #7 of 22
That was a sad story of lost luggage and one that happens all too frequently. Until the air lines get their acts together, you may benefit from bringing your boots and ski clothing as a carry on item so if the rest of the baggage doesn't make it at least you can ski in something other than jeans and gloves borrowed from lost and found.
post #8 of 22
Originally Posted by Proneax View Post
That day, my brother and I skiied in rentals and jeans...

The days before we skiied in a combination of jeans, snowpants purchased at walmart, sweaters, hats, old goggles we happened to find, etc.

I do not know what is worse... the lost luggage or resembling a Texan on vacation...

All kidding aside. I have one rule when travelling, "Never Check a Bag". This is not easy to do on vacation, or with skis, but when on business I jam everything I can into the carry on. It is much easier to spend ten minutes ironing at the hotel than dealing with the airlines for lost luggage.

With the prices charged for skis, It might not be a bad idea to ship them UPS.

I agree with the others about a luggage tracking system, just don't use the DHL model.
post #9 of 22
What a bummer.

I wonder if it was USAir that had the problem, or flying through Philly itself. Philly has notorious baggage problems. Well, problems in general!

Last night I flew in to there, a major international aiport, at the end of a big holiday, and they had 2 baggage claim areas open. 2 for the entire place!

There were people everywhere looking for bags, and the tvs with the flight information weren't being updated so you had no idea where your bags were going to be unloaded. I managed to find one bag and then went to look for the area where large/odd-shaped baggage like skis is deposited, like in other aiports. After wandering around a while I realized that they had dumped everyone's skis onto a regular conveyor belt (not the same one my other bag was on either, that would make too much sense). I luckily found my skis and got the heck out of there.

On the way out I realized they had unzipped my ski bag to check what was in there or whatever, and hadn't bothered to zip it back up! Gee, thanks! Luckily, they hadn't taken anything out of the bag, and my poles were only a bit marked up where they were sticking out of the bag. Thank god I wrapped my skis in an extra blanket for additional protection!

When I left there were still hordes of people trying to locate missing luggage, and not a single person working that I could find in the entire area.

I fly out of Philly alot since I live in the area, and needless to say, it is one of the poorest run airports I have been to!
post #10 of 22
Originally Posted by Kimmyt View Post
I fly out of Philly alot since I live in the area, and needless to say, it is one of the poorest run airports I have been to!
I would agree 100% It is hardly ever a normal experience when going through Philly.
post #11 of 22
Been there. I feel your pain.

Take note of the carry-on tips. Then it won't be as much of an inconvenience when it happens again.
post #12 of 22
Friends don't let friends fly US Airways.

PHL is a known "we don't give a crap we're union" meltdown point for US Airways baggage. Last year at Christmas stuff was delayed for days.

Basically don't check bags if transiting Philly. More generally, don't transit Philly. If you must take US for some reason, their Charlotte hub runs much better.

As ant points out, they all are pretty bad. But US is the worst of the worst as far as baggage goes. For one thing, they're about the only US-based airline that does not scan the barcode on the bag tag at each stage of the game. If UA or Delta or NW loses your bag, at least they know where they left it. If US loses it, they don't have any way to tell where it is.

Add to that the still-incomplete merger between US and America West, where somebody in a US Airways uniform in the west will tell you "I can't help you, you flew US Airways and we're America West", and it's a cesspool to be avoided.
post #13 of 22
US Scare?
post #14 of 22
Useless Air
post #15 of 22
What an ordeal!

Good for you for carrying your boots with you.

And as someone said above, if Fedex can track every package why can’t they track baggage?

I don’t fly often. I haven’t flown since 1998. I’m going to fly next week to Florida and it makes me nervous.

Thanks for the reminder to take essentials on the plane, in case they lose luggage.

If you hadn’t brought your boots with you, the skiing would have been horrible.
post #16 of 22
>>>"I can't help you, you flew US Airways and we're America West", <<<

My friend flew American Airlines from Puerto Rico to New York. They had to CRASH LAND the plane in South Carolina! The landing gear wasn't working.

So they crash land (some injuries, none more than a broken arm) and the airport didn't have anyone do anything for them! Why? American didn't normally land there.

Kind of like the "not my table" attitude from a waiter at a restaurant.
post #17 of 22
Originally Posted by MarkXS View Post
PHL is a known "we don't give a crap we're union" meltdown point for US Airways baggage. Last year at Christmas stuff was delayed for days.
I remember seeing the pictures of that in the paper. They had thousands of bags that didn't make it on the correct flights. It was unbelievable. Everyone I know who ever connects through or flies in or out of Philly, never checks a bag if they can help it.
post #18 of 22
I will never again fly US Air. My flight on Monday was cancelled (for obvious BS reasons) and bags were lost, but at least I got a voucher for a discount at a hotel.
post #19 of 22
I can at least share a positive story.

I flew to Colorado a few years ago from Louisville, KY on Northwest. Again, due to a "heavy plane", my skis were left off and were flown later. Luckily, my luggage did arrive so I had some clothes (I carried my boots on..of course!). Northwest then gave me a voucher to use for renting ANY equipment that I needed within a certain dollar amount...and it was a fair amount. My skis arrived the following day right after noon. So I only needed one day rental.

I must give them kudos for helping me and making sure that I was taken care of. I know there are many horror stories....so just know that every now and then, someone cares.
post #20 of 22
I used to fly America West -- now known as US Airways -- for all my ski trips to UT, CA and Telluride and never once had a problem with them. They always got my skis off the plane early and set them aside in a designated area even before the regular baggage came up on the carousel, and they haven't lost my luggage yet. I especially liked the fact that their check-in agents always understood that a pair of skis, a boot bag and one suitcase is not "excess luggage" that requires an extra fee -- I've had that kind of hassle before on other airlines.

I haven't flown America West on a ski trip since they bought US Airways. I hope your experience is not an indication that America West's awesome customer service has gone downhill as a result of this acquisition. I don't get why they decided to adopt the US Airways name. They claimed it was because US Airways had better name recognition, nationally, then America West. "Yeah," I thought, "but not in a good way."
post #21 of 22
I had problems a couple years ago with Baggage in Denver when we missed a connection because of United. We had our 1yr old and they refused to give us our baggage back for the night or our portable crib. Needless to say I stood at the counter until they went and got it. If you are gonna make ME pay for a night at a hotel then there was no way I was going to buy more provisions.

Needless to say, I always have essentials on board with me, including ski pants, googles and contacts. Anything I know will be a pain or too costly to replace.
post #22 of 22
A few years ago, we flew to Big Sky on United. Our flight out of Burlington, VT, however, was on partner US Airways. I purposely do not fly US Airways because they are notoriously inept so we were not happy to end up on US Airways, but there was no way to avoid it.

Anyway, to make a long story short, along the way, we got stuck overnight. The next day, United put us on Delta since they could not get us to Big Sky within a reasonable time. No quibbles there. We got to Big Sky just fine. But our luggage did not. In fact, it NEVER made it to Big Sky.

Of course, poor Delta is stuck trying to track our luggage, since they were the airline to deliver us to our destination (that's how it works, last airline does the tracking). We told them that while we had booked through United, US Airways was our airline on our first leg. Neither United nor US Airways could tell the woman from Delta where our luggage was. Delta gave us vouchers for rental skis, and reimbursed us for clothing we needed for the vacation. Fortunately, our carry-ons held our ski boots, all ski clothing, goggles, etc., so we could ski the next day (NOTE: We never travel without packing our carry-ons with ski boots and a day's worth of ski clothes, you can always wash your long underwear and fleeces every night if necessary ). What we didn't have was "street clothes" so we ended up with some nice new clothes because of this trip and Delta covered the cost.

So, where was our luggage? We left Montana with no clue as to where it was. And this is where it gets interesting: When we arrived home, our luggage was ON OUR FRONT DOORSTEP! : We are talking two suitcases and a ski box with two BRAND NEW PAIRS of fat skis with AT bindings. Sitting on our front doorstep.


US Airways, that's who.

Turns out they tagged our bags to go to PHILLY, not all the way through to Big Sky. When we didn't claim our bags in Philly...UMMMM, why would we? We weren't GOING to Philly!...they returned the bags to our originating airport. Which was home in Vermont. Then they delivered the bags when they couldn't reach us on the phone, and just dumped them on our front porch. We are lucky there were still sitting there, that no one had stolen them. : :

I was NEVER able to reach anyone at US Airways to address what had happened. Phones rang unanswered. Letters never responded to. Nothing. But that's OK. I am a travel writer and I tell everyone not to fly US Airways.

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