Last week an airline lost my suitcase. When it finally arrived at my home in Minneapolis the handle was busted. I couldn’t help but wonder, should I file a claim? Could it possibly be worth the effort?
The Transportation Security Administration logged just over 167,000 claims for damaged or lost property, personal injury, and other such incidents at the nation’s airports between January 2002 and May 2010, according to agency data.
All told, $6.5 million was paid out for passenger property lost during that period, while close to $5 million was paid out for property damaged and $600 thousand for injuries.
I know, I know, number crunching like this is the kind of fluff you find in the USA Today you grabbed from the hotel lobby. Maybe so, but for me this is personal.
It turns out that fewer than one in every 100,000 passengers files a claim for property damaged, lost, or stolen at an airport or on an airplane. That’s certainly not representative of the actual property lost, damaged or stolen. Just as with crime stats, you’ve got to factor in the people who don’t bother reporting anything at all. And just as with crime stats, there must be lots of those people.
So what about those who do file? According to the TSA data (covering roughly eight-and-a-half years), just over $215,000 was paid out in response to complaints where a Minnesota airport was listed as the “claim site.” That’s 1.5 percent of the $13.6 million nationwide total.
Of the 2,700 claims involving Minnesota airports filed between January 2002 and May 2010, 45 percent were denied straightaway. Claims for broken luggage (the thing that got me digging through this data in the first place) did about as well. But these odds aren’t bad.
Claim forms can be found on the TSA website. Now if you’ll excuse me…