Rookie Wednesday: What if Delta kills your bag? What do you do?

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RenesPoints Rookie

Welcome to a weekly feature on the Renés Points blog. Each week this series covers in a “rookie” way either a Delta or travel related theme and attempts to break down to a basic level each topic. You can read up on all the previous posts HERE. Now on to this week’s feature.

My friend, and fellow Delta flyer, Mike took the above video coming back from The Chicago Seminars. He said:

“Suitcase and crowbar. Not a good combination”

Mike, I would agree with you. It is scary what can happen to a plane-side checked item, let alone one you check with our airline.

When I was younger, my mom would wave goodbye to her bag like you are saying goodbye to a long lost friend; I have at times even seen a tear in her eye as she always said you never know if this is the last time you will ever see you treasured belongings. Back then, I always thought to myself – “MOM! – come on! it will be fine”. It is a fun treasured memory of flying when I was a wee lad.

But what if, when you are waiting at the baggage claim, you see your bag coming down the chute and around the belt and you can see something has gone very wrong? Delta tells us:

damage done to luggage by delta airlines delta points blog 2

“If you feel your baggage was damaged during a flight, bring it to the Delta Air Lines airport baggage office immediately after arrival. All damages will need to be reviewed and evaluated by the baggage service office personnel. If advised, complete the Baggage Claim Form above, in “Begin Your Claim“, as soon as possible. You must report your claim within 24 hours for U.S. travel and seven days for international travel.”

Normal Wear & Tear is not covered. What is NW&T? Dirt, scuff marks, a small rip maybe. Now if the bag comes out wrapped in duct tape and ripped open, that is not NW&T. Delta tells us:

damage done to luggage by delta airlines delta points blog 1

“In the course of normal handling during travel, your luggage may show evidence of wear and tear. Like most major airlines, we don’t accept liability for normal damage to checked luggage, such as: broken wheels or feet, lost pull straps, minor cuts and scratches, damage resulting from over-packing, damage to retractable luggage handles, fragile or perishable items damaged during transport, items unsuitably packed or unsuitable for transportation, damage resulting from Transportation Security Administration (TSA) inspections”

Ah can Delta blame it all on the TSA? First off, the TSA should always put a paper inside telling you your bag was opened by the TSA. What then?

TSA-OSO FORM 1000 delta points blog

“Random Search Damage: If the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) has made a random search of your bag, you will find written notification inside your luggage or a seal outside of your luggage, informing you of such. If you feel they damaged your bag during a random inspection, you can contact them at 1-866-289-9673.”

I would rather stick with Delta if I can. We have heard so many horror stories about rogue baggage handlers or TSA stealing things from bags. Please never put any of these things listed below in your checked bag as Delta says:

damage done to luggage by delta airlines delta points blog 3

Delta is not responsible or liable for cash, camera equipment, commercial effects, computer software and equipment, electronic equipment, fragile articles, jewelry, lifesaving medication, negotiable papers, irreplaceable business documents, works of art or other similar valuable items contained in checked or unchecked baggage. These types of items should be carried on — and kept in sight.”

But that is inside. How much can you get for your bag itself? On a case by case basis Delta will advise you if the bag is “destroyed” (i.e. you may feel it is, but Delta may not). It is always a good idea to save the receipt (even a PDF copy in your phone) for the bag  as if it can not be repaired you may be able to get a check from Delta for a new bag. I have read of several accounts of this but also many where the claim was denied.

What if Delta says the damage is not covered and denies your claim. Do you have any recourse? Check with the credit card you paid with as they may cover it when you paid for the ticket with the card.

amex bag protection delta points blog

I reached out to AMEX about such things as a broken wheel or other bits that Delta could say NO to and to find out what they could do as these are not spelled out directly in the coverage description from AMEX. They indicated that as long as you paid in full (including miles) with the Delta Platinum or Delta Reserve AMEX cards more than likely they will cover these non-Delta covered events (note: does NOT include the Delta GOLD AMEX personal card but YES on the business). Another card that has the same coverage is the NON-Delta AMEX Platinum Membership Rewards card and the AMEX Premier Rewards Gold Card that pays 3x points for buying airline tickets. I have had nothing but outstanding results with them so I trust this will be the case even though I have not had it happen to me in real life.

Other ideas to consider. Be sure to take lots of photos of the bag and the damage. If you need to, get social media involved if Delta tells you no way pal! If you are a medallion, why not play the loyalty card. Let the rep saying no to you know that you are a loyal Delta flyer and this bag had flown 10’s of thousands of miles on Delta and this had never happened before – do they really want to deny a loyal Medallion?

Personally I don’t buy very expensive luggage (as you can see in the photos above). We patch them as needed and if they can make it a few years we are happy and just don’t worry about it all that much. Want even more info about bags and luggage? Be sure to take the time to read the posts in the Essentials Tab E12 for more. – René

PS – Need MQMs? Fly with me HERE!


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  1. I get around (most) of that by never checking bags. I travel light and have a cool travel backpack that fits nicely in the overhead even on most small regional jets. I take it to Europe and can pack a suit or two and enough clothes for a week. On my first three trips to Europe my baggage was either lost or heavily damaged so I just stopped letting Delta take car of my stuff.

  2. I had this happen recently on a trip to San Juan. Took it to the counter and they were very apologetic. No need to play the loyalty card, as they immediately played it for me after looking up my FF #. Told me he’d put it on file. Tried to give me a loaner, but they didn’t have anything the proper size. So, I just took it with me, filed the claim (I had a receipt – not sure how this would have gone if not) and they mailed me a gift card for the amount of the bag. Actually, I bought a role of Gorilla Tape and went to town on it and have used the bag 5 more times without incident.

  3. Back in April of this year, I flew Delta from MHT to CLT and return. Upon claiming my one checked bag at MHT, I noticed a corner of the suitcase was missing, including the wheel that was attached there. I immediately went to see the baggage Rep and showed her the damage. She informed me that missing wheels were not covered as a claim but I showed her where the wheel was simply part of the missing corner of the suitcase. She said she would submit this information but my claim did not look very promising. She also gave me a $50 Delta Airlines e-certificate. I forgot about filing the official claim until just a few weeks ago. After I did, to my pleasant surprise Delta informed me that a $200 check is on its way to me, to compensate me for my ruined suitcase! Kudos to Delta for owning-up to their bag blunder and making the customer whole for his loss!

  4. Hi Rene
    Several years ago I was flying back to JFK from Munich. Via ATL.
    I had to check a small suitcase and sad to say, it was a fav of mine
    Blue flowered polycarbonate.
    I had taken pictures prior to flying and upon retrieval in ATL
    My poor bag looked like it was put through an old fashioned blender.
    I think I was platinum that year and I went to baggage office with pics
    Before and post flute
    I filled out the papers on the spot
    And e mailed the pics
    LI and beyond
    Delta sent me the first of
    My little intro collection to
    Heys – a 22″ 4 wheel spinner
    Silver polycarbonate carry on
    Thank you delta, for taking care if a loyal customer
    And Heys should thank you too !!!!??

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