Misconnected Luggage Fail at Alaska Airlines
Last Friday was supposed to be a celebration of a “bad holiday sweater” day. A day where wearing your holiday sweater got you priority boarding aboard Alaska Airlines flights. Some lucky passengers found an Alaska Airlines holiday sweater waiting for them at their seats.
Unfortunately, last Friday was a day of a massive, checked baggage failure. Alaska’s major Seattle hub had an unusually large number of baggage handlers calling in sick. Adding to the crisis were the delays of hundreds of flights in and out of Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.
Alaska Airlines Worked Hard to Unite Bags with Passengers
This just goes to show that no matter how well and the airline is managed, things go wrong. How well an airline copes with major issues is a sign of how well they are committed to serving their customers. Alaska started with an immediate apology and getting to the intense job of reuniting bags with their owners. On top of this staff shortage, it couldn’t have come at a worse time, the Friday before Christmas. As of 9:00 am PST today, Alaska Airlines issued a statement that all bags had been reunited with their owners.
What You Should Do if Your Bag(s) Don’t Arrive
- Don’t leave the airport without filing a missing bag claim with your airline. The faster that you file a claim, the sooner your airline will be able to handle your claim.
- Your airline should reimburse their passengers for reasonable and necessary expenses incurred during bag separation to include clothing and toiletries. You will need to keep receipts.
- Your airline should reach out to you with the status of your claim. If they fail to contact you, you should call their central claim office. For Alaska, that phone number is (877) 815-8253.
- You can expect to tell your airline whether to hold your bags at the airport for pickup or where to deliver them to you at your destination.
- Alaska Airlines will also include a discount for a future flight if your bags are delayed for more than 24 hours.
Items That You Should Never Put in Checked Baggage
Some of the people that experienced missing bags had other issues to deal with besides the inconvenience of the delays. There are some items that you should always carry on:
- Medications – how long can you go without your medications.
- Medical equipment – the same issue applies here too.
- Critical electronics – If your work laptop is missing, how will that affect you?
- Valuable jewelry – They should stay with you.
- Currency or other negotiables – again keep them with you.
- Passports and other essential documentation.
- Matches, E-cigarettes, lighters and vaping pens – these are extreme safety issues that may result in a fire in the cargo compartment.
- Lithium batteries – again, they may start a fire in the baggage compartment.
NEVER, EVER PUT YOUR MEDICATIONS OR MEDICAL EQUIPMENT IN CHECKED BAGS.
My Experience With Alaska Airlines Missing Bags
A couple of years ago, Shelly and I flew from Portland (PDX) to Kauai (LIH) via a connection at San Diego (SAN). At San Diego, one of our checked bags made the transfer and the other failed to make it. Alaska Airlines knew shortly after we took off of the problem and started the process by:
- Arranging the transfer of the missing bag to a Delta Airlines flight to get it there with a minimum of delay.
- United Airlines handles the bags for Alaska at LIH. United was informed of the situation and they were immediately able to let me know the status of the situation.
I was told to go ahead and make any reasonable purchases to cover me during the delay period. I was told to keep the receipts and to forward them with a claim to Alaska Airlines for a refund within three weeks. I was able to purchase what I needed at Walmart and everything that I purchased was on sale. To my surprise, I had a refund check from Alaska Airlines within a week.
There is no airline that can deliver flawless service 100% of the time. Things will go wrong whether they are within the airline’s control or not. It is has the airline reacts and how they treat you that makes the difference.