JULY 25, 2011: JUST IN....You should check this out. You still want to fly US Air?????
For starters, USAIRsucks.com was already taken hence the name "US Air REALLY sucks"!
On February 5 of 2011, as a photographer on assignment, I flew from JFK to Phoenix on US Airways. I travel frequently so I was unconcerned at the lack of attention and basic disregard in the way I was treated by US Air workers as I checked in. I paid my $60 and checked in two bags. In one bag was almost all clothing along with two photographic lenses that I could not fit (size wise and weight-wise) into my carry-on bag. Both were in a zipped pouch buried amongst the clothing.
I also looked past the excessive TSA force that morning, probably 35-45 strong, that appeared more like a training exercise for newer agents. My carry on was opened, and every single piece of equipment was frisked and swabbed. This was not a “red alert” but rather an inexperienced TSA crew doing what they thought they were supposed to do (while their supervisors watched).
Little did I know that about 30’ below me, USAir and/or TSA was raping and pillaging two lenses from my bag. My wife’s clothes bag looked like an animal had rummaged through it. Probably not done by a TSA guy as there was no TSA calling card left and this was the sloppiest bag inspection I ever saw as they left all the clothing balled up in one huge mess. It was obviously a search for cash, jewelry, drugs, or valuables of any sort.
On arrival to Phoenix, we took the shuttle to the car rental area where I opened my suitcase to gather the lenses for possible use driving to my hotel. The lens case was still in the bag, zipped up, with no lenses inside. The protective cloth separating the two lenses was left elsewhere in the bag.
So I made a call to US Air and drove to the terminal where I filled out a report. Naively, I mentioned to the agent that a TSA agent had probably taken the lenses out, swabbed them, and forgot to return them to the bag. Duhhhh. Sorry, but after 30 years of traveling on business with photo equipment, this was a first. The promise of having a ‘resolution’ within 4-6 weeks was simply insufficient and I placed a call to a special 800 number the first phone agent gave me. The recording promised a call back with two hours. That came two days later when I was again prompted to fill out another report form from their web site listing the items and submitting proof of ownership. When I returned to New York a week later, I assembled all the paperwork and submitted.
I use these two lenses to earn a living. My submitted paperwork along with proof of ownership also included estimates on replacement costs.
Since I couldn’t wait 4-6 weeks for a resolution, I followed up with the actual cost of replacement, buying one at cost from the manufactured and picking up the other, in similar used condition off Ebay. Close to $1,500 of my money was expended.
I received one form letter marked February 22 and another as a follow-up to my written claims on March 17. I also received the pertinent page from US Air’s “Terms of Transportation” Page 27 (I assume you all have read this document before flying with them. It part it says:
protection is purchased (excess valuation), and unless it is international
travel to which the Montreal Convention applies, US Airways assumes no liability
for valuable/commercial items including but not limited to: money, negotiable
papers, securities, irreplaceable business documents, books, manuscripts,
publications, photographic or electronic equipment, musical instruments,
jewelry, silverware, precious metals, furs, antiques, artifacts, paintings and
other works of art, lifesaving medication, and samples.
So basically, I get nothing except their verbal offer of a $300 travel voucher.
An offer I assume was made to get me to fly with them again. I guess someone
over there needs another lens…or two. I rejected the offer, but told them that
I would consider an offer of FIVE $300 vouchers. ($1500 stolen = 5 x $300. Get
it?). They rejected that offer.
So basically, I get nothing except their verbal offer of a $300 travel voucher. An offer I assume was made to get me to fly with them again. I guess someone over there needs another lens…or two. I rejected the offer, but told them that I would consider an offer of FIVE $300 vouchers. ($1500 stolen = 5 x $300. Get it?). They rejected that offer.
So, in short, I am out $1500 which my company will probably reimburse. But I’m not done. Not by a long shot. This is just the beginning US Air. We’ll be seeing you in the newspapers. We’ll be seeing your name popping up randomly in many forms of social media and web sites, and the traditional media will be informed of your careless disregard for your passengers and their rights. Regulatory agencies including the Department of Transportation will be alerted and I will help spur all those who have been wronged by you to file their complaints about your careless disregard for the traveling public.
US Air, you and your employees lack integrity, and I will make it my goal to make sure as many people as possible are made aware of it.
Bruce Bennett email@example.com
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