Battered Backpack

June 20, 2010

in Luggage Stories

At four months pregnant, I fractured my foot, so I requested wheelchair assistance for boarding and deplaning. At the airport, after learning that our plane had been downsized, I waited over 30 minutes after boarding began for a wheelchair. The gate attendant called for the wheelchair three times, and everyone else had boarded by the time it arrived. As a consequence, I was told that there were no remaining overhead bins, and I would need to gate check my backpack.

I explained that my wallet, laptop, and fragile gifts were in the bag, but they insisted that it would be handled carefully. I was hustled to my seat without even a gate tag for the bag. When I arrived at my layover airport, I asked for my bag, only to be told that it had been checked through to my final destination! They simply threw my backpack, with my laptop, gifts, and wallet, into the main baggage hold without telling me. I was told I could complain when I retrieved my bag from baggage claim at my final destination.

Meanwhile, they refused to offer me even a food voucher, despite the fact that I was pregnant, had no wallet, and hadn’t eaten since giving up my bag three hours prior. Upon arriving at my destination another three hours later, starving and worried for my possessions, I was told by Baggage Services that they couldn’t accept my complaint because they didn’t have the right forms, but that I could email the airline if anything was broken. My computer is unusable, the gifts I purchased are broken, and three months later I still haven’t gotten anything from the airline.

– Airatic

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Hugh June 21, 2010 at 12:05 am

Was there no room under the seat in front of you for the backpack? Did you REALLY not even remove your wallet first? C'mon???

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Laura June 21, 2010 at 1:12 am

That's too bad about stuff breaking, but the wallet was pretty much not the airline's fault at all.

Hi Hugh!

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Waldi June 21, 2010 at 1:28 am

Left your wallet in your backpack? Once you were told it had to be checked , it would be the first thing what would come into my mind: Remove it! Also, the backpack could not be that big not to fit under the sit. You seem to be a born whiner.

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nyuu June 21, 2010 at 2:52 am

I'm always so starved after only three hours too.

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Karrie June 21, 2010 at 1:48 pm

That sounds like a flight from hell to me. What's with the comments though? Geez, lighten up people.

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NayNay June 21, 2010 at 5:46 pm

What airline was this? I've flown many times where I had to gate check a carry-on, but all of those airlines flat out *would not* check the bag with my laptop. This is why I always fly with a carry-on AND a "personal item." You never know when you're going to be forced to gate check a bag, but you should be prepared just in case.

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Caroline June 21, 2010 at 8:31 pm

While I agree with the wallet comments, have you never heard of the bulkhead rows, Hugh?

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Hugh June 22, 2010 at 12:17 am

Caroline…yes, in fact I have heard of them. The poster did not mention that they had a bulkhead seat. Were you on their flight? Are you in possession of information that they had a bulkhead seat? If so, then please state so, if not, then we can only go on the information given us by the poster. I think I made a reasonable assumption. Thanks for your snippy response.

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Josh June 22, 2010 at 4:16 am

Hugh, are you in a position to say that she didn't have a bulkhead seat? I don't think that assumption is reasonable at all, especially considering that the author couldn't keep his/her bag with him/her.

I would say that I would have taken my wallet out, though. I don't ever leave my wallet in my carry-on. Even if it's right above me in the bin.

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Caroline June 22, 2010 at 11:00 am

Darn it…I was going for snarky. 🙁

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jayne52 June 22, 2010 at 4:25 am

4 months pregnant? You usually don't even have a bump when ony 4 months, much less need assistance. I broke my foot, had a walking cast, and didn't even need crutches. For a fractured ankle, they would at least give you crutches. This can't be the entire story. Why can't her bag go under her seat?

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Alex June 22, 2010 at 6:07 pm

This was my thought exactly. 4 months pregnant and you needed a wheelchair for a fractured foot? Really? Good luck to you giving birth (don't forget your wallet, btw – they're going to need proof of insurance before you pop the kid out).

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Love It! June 24, 2010 at 10:15 am

Really? What about under the seat in front of you? Why didn't you just keep your wallet on you since you should always carry id?

When the story started out, I thought I was going to feel some sympathy, but…nope. If I was the airline, I wouldn't have given you anything either. Airlines are businesses not babysitters.

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MM June 24, 2010 at 10:39 pm

It's a bit of a nightmare, sure. But all the stuff that went wrong is on you, not the airline.

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Airatic June 30, 2010 at 12:16 pm

I'm the OP, and I would like to clarify:

-I had a bulkhead seat, no under seat storage.

-The gate agent had taken my bag before I could get anything out of it – hence my complaint to them that it contained those items – obviously I wouldn't give them up voluntarily.

-I had crutches, but checked them because I was promised the wheelchair. I was told by my doctor to keep all weight off the foot, so pain aside, I wasn't about to damage the foot further.

-The airline was United, and they eventually did provide compensation, after many months of follow-up.

-@nyuu: next time you're pregnant and go six hours (three *plus* three) without food, you can talk.

-@jayne52/Alex – I mentioned the pregnancy because of the food, not because it affected my choice to request a wheelchair. I would have needed the wheelchair either way.

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