CHICAGO, Illinois -- One airline passenger found themselves at O'Hare International Airport's baggage claim, stuck with burned clothes and luggage in a garbage bag. The I-Team found out what you should do before your luggage gets destroyed.
It's always a bad feeling when your luggage is missing, or in this case burned and shredded. A passenger contacted the I-Team because she was upset by her ordeal, and how it was handled by the airline.
South suburban Hazel Crest resident Ivy Ford said she was appalled when she realized a mess on the baggage claim belt was her luggage.
"I see a garbage bag go past, still not thinking anything of it, I actually tap the garbage bag and say, 'Wow, this is really awful. Who would put somebody's stuff in a garbage bag like this?' not knowing the whole time it was mine," she said.
Spirit Airlines did not tell the I-Team or Ford how her luggage got burned and shredded.
"I was more upset that nobody told me, that you would allow me to get off the plane and discover it, versus coming to me and informing me as soon as we got off the plane," she said.
Ford said she was also unhappy with the replacement process.
"They said that, well, anything over $50 we need receipts. I explained to them that three of those items were gifts, I wouldn't have receipts for items that were gifts, and explained to her that I'm not lying to her about it. You know, I felt like my situation was so severe that I shouldn't have to produce receipts for burned luggage, you should just replace them," she said.
Under the airline's policy her Versace perfume was not eligible for the claim either.
After a month of back and forth emails and calls battling Spirit Airlines on that receipt policy, she received an approval for a $400 reimbursement check, about $80 less than she requested, she said. But Spirit also threw in a $50 travel voucher.
Ford said she's also disappointed in her luggage replacement option. Instead of getting cash, she had to pick similar luggage from a Spirit catalog.
After the I-Team became involved, Spirit gave Ford another $50 travel voucher and added an additional $80 for her reimbursement "to satisfy the amount" of the "entire claim."
Spirit Airlines said: We greatly apologize for the damage to our Guest's luggage and personal items.... we take pride in our luggage handling, but in the rare event of damage or loss, we have a process of itemizing all belongings and their value. Keeping in mind every incident is different, we have worked directly with the Guest and fulfilled her request for reimbursement."
"I wasn't satisfied and to be honest with you, driving home from the airport I felt like somebody dropped the ball that works for Spirit. Somebody didn't do their job, mishandled some luggage, and no one's taking responsibility for it," Ford said.
There are some things you can do when you pack to help if a situation like this arises.
Take a quick smartphone video of your clothes and items in your checked luggage. This could make for an easier claim, since most people don't keep clothing receipts.
Avoid checking in expensive items like perfume, which may not be covered under policies, plus read those policies.
Also, take off any extra straps off your luggage, so they don't get snagged and caught.
You can also consider travel insurance, which could cover losses.
AARP's Lost and Damaged Luggage Tips
Corporate Travel Safety Blog Luggage Tips
Air Transport Industry Insights: 2018 Baggage Report
Passenger's luggage shredded and burned after Spirit flight