United Airlines Delayed Baggage Incident and What We Did

Beautiful Life

There is this letter sitting in front of my monitor at home since 6 months ago.  We have been wondering how to use the $250 United certificate, because we are now used to redeem for cheap or free flight tickets recently. :-].  Last night, I finally have an idea about where to go. Of course, another trip.

United Airlines baggage claim compensation letter

Isa always fly United in the past 8 years.  United was always late, but never once her luggage got delayed.  Whenever she travels for business, I always ask her to send me a text message to confirm her safe arrival.  On July 23, 2013, instead of a text message, I received a call at 7am from her instead.  She arrived in Beijing, China, safely but her luggage was still stuck in San Francisco Airport with United.  She checked into the hotel, had her mobile phone, hand-carry, no China currency, and no extra clothes or phone charger.  She just bought some business clothes to be ready for a business meeting 7 hours later.  Isa was very tired.  Her luggage had important items for her Taiwan relatives after Beijing trip.  It was almost midnight time at Bejing when I asked her to hang up the phone.  I would pick it up from there.

It was my first time dealing with delayed luggage.  I started googling before Isa was dismissed, as I always have Isa's account and flight information.

Q1: Where was her luggage?
  • "Claim File Reference Number" - Isa reported the incident at the United luggage office at the Beijing airport, with her bag number and United flight number.  
  • Based on United delayed luggage site, I found her luggage trace showing luggage still sitting in San Francisco airport with United.

Q2: How to follow up the missing luggage?

For call outside of US, call 1-281-821-3526.
For non-Premier United member regarding baggage claim, call Baggage Resolution Service Center at 1-800-335-2247
For Premier United member regarding baggage claim, call 1-855-873-9678.

The 1-281 number was not that helpful.  Most of the time, they asked us to keep tracing using the website.  I was trying to make sure her luggage would get on the next available To-Beijing flight. So I kept calling 1-800-335-2247 every 2 hours to bug United.  One day later, trace showed luggage arrived to the correct hotel in Bejing.  (Isa stayed in different cities in China, thus different hotels, for each business trip.)

Q3: How to File Claim to United Airlines?
Via phone conversation, United responded that they would compensate maximum $150, because it is not luggage loss.  Isa spent $400 at Beijing.  We still filed claim form for luggage with details and good reasons.  About one month later, United sent us the response as shown above.

Q4: How to Avoid this?
There is none we could do if flying United.  But she would make sure to carry one extra clothes, local currency and extra phone charger in her hand-carry from now on.

Q5:  Do we hate United?
No, United service has been improving.  Our patience was indeed tested, as neither of us were fully waken up due to time zone difference.  We still thank United because of their popular and useful United MileagePlus award ticket program.

Her mom will fly to US from Taiwan coach-fare round-trip for $29.90 with Eva Airlines.  Her Dad's ticket was redeemed using expiring and remaining 100,000 Eva miles.  United miles do not expire, as long as there is new activity.

Changing flight date did not cost extra miles for those reservations made prior to 2/4/2014

I will need to fly to Taiwan without Isa this year once for personal reason, so best time to fly Eva business class one-way.  I already reserved an Eva Air business class ticket before United devaluation in 2/4/2014, using a placeholder date.  Exact date will be determined.


There are two things I did right which I would give credit to my elder brother as a role model
  1. When Isa first informed me about no backup charger, clothes in her hand-carry, I controlled myself not to spend time "blaming" her not preparing backups.  I understood she already had a very difficult day.  I was trying myself to calm her frustration instead, and assure her to sleep well, as she could simply spend to resolve her misery.
  2. The responses from repeated calls with United claim office was discouraging.  I insisted to file the claim backed with good reasonings.  So I spent one hour to write up a separate claim letter to get our $250 back.
For a short-time 10 years ago, I lived with my elder brother's family in their first new home which they invested most of their money.  One early morning, I was about to cook breakfast, and heard my cell phone ringing upstairs in the second floor.  I moved the frying pan away and ran upstairs.  Within 45 seconds, I started to see smoke billowing from downstairs.  I ran to the kitchen, saw kitchen vent was melting and a pillar of fire shooting from an adjacent cooking pot which unknown to me was filled with cooking oil.  I turned on the wrong stove burner in the beginning.  Fire alarm woke up my brother and his wife.  He ran downstairs and calmly asked what happened.  I explained.  His next and only response was: "everyone would make the same mistake too."  Next thing we were hosing the kitchen like firefighters and took half-day off to clean up.

Forgiving and Love can be contagious.  Today is Valentine's Day.  Happy Valentine's Day!

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