American Airlines’ $5 Million Baggage Fee

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A Washington woman has filed a $5 million class action law suit against American Airlines for losing her luggage. Danielle Covarrubias was flying from Seattle to Washington last May when the airline lost her luggage, a single bag with about $800 worth of possessions. She waited for the next flight with no luck. She then went and spent $300 on new toiletries and clothing while she waited for the bag. After 24 hours, she checked back in with the airline. She asked for her $25 baggage fee to be refunded, but the airline reportedly refused. “In her last conversation with American Airlines…she was told nothing could be done,” the lawsuit says. If only they’d just given her the 25 bucks.

American Airlines says, “We already do allow customers to include a checked bag charge refund request in their baggage claim if they file one for other damages and the claim is accepted for full or partial payment.” It’s unclear filed if she such a claim, and either way, that sounds complicated.

What is clear is that American Airlines loses a ton of luggage. 2,400 pieces are lost or delayed each day. Last year, 299,257 bags were reported “mishandled” by the airline, making it the second worst in the industry. (Southwest is number one!) American began charging for checked bags in 2008, at a cost of $25 for the first and $35 for the second.

Covarrubias’s lawyers say the fee represents a “clear and unambiguous agreement with passengers to handle bags with care, and deliver them to their destination in a timely fashion.” An agreement that in her case, and many others, was broken. While $5 million sounds like an outrageous sum, any winnings would be divided up among all customers who have suffered since it’s a class action lawsuit. In fact, you’d actually need nearly $7.5 million to refund the 299,257 who had their bags mishandled last year. An American Airlines spokesperson offered no comment and said the lawsuit was being reviewed.