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Old 10-08-06, 09:35 AM   #1
spinnaker
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Anyone ever have luck in getting compensated by the airlines for damage?

I just got back from a tour of Italy and my right STI brifter is broken. It needs to be replaced. The airlines made me sign a waiver on the way back.

I submit that the bike was mishandled. When I went through customs in PHL the bike came down the regular luggage belt atop someone else's luggage instead of through the oversize luggage. The box was torn to shreads. I really should have taken pictures but I did not.


I can't see how a waiver should give the airlines license to abuse someone's luggage.


Any tips on getting compensated would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 10-08-06, 11:35 AM   #2
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Doubt that the airline will volountarily pay, claiming that the waiver absolves them of any liability. In that case I would file a small claims suit. It is possible that once served with the complaint the airline will just pay up, this is what I experienced when I filed suit against an airline for denied boarding. Most likely they won't go through the time and expense of having an employee contest the suit in court, as this would not be cost effective for them.
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Old 10-08-06, 12:03 PM   #3
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Sorry to hear about it. Have you tested your point relative to the license to abuse? Have they said they do claim that right on the basis of your waiver?

They seem to claim the right to limit losses to a particular figure like 300 bucks, which would doubtless be enough or mostly enough in this case. But my point is imagine you put a large value item in a suitcase, and later it's smashed, do you have the right to go around the waiver against claims over 300 bucks just because they were abusive, when you knew the deal in advance. How can the airline protect itself from unreasonable claims. Makes one wonder whether these waivers haven't been fairly tested already. I mean I agree it's reasonable that they should treat your stuff carefully, but a lot of people luggage is very expensive too, and the cases are often banged up badly. I'm sure a baggage handler might be astounded to learn a simple brake lever unit could cost probably more than he might spend on a whole bike.

Also is the airline responsible for what happens relative to baggage handling in the terminal, probably, but just wondering whether there is anyone else you could bug about this.

Also, technically did you get special handling. I mean most of us are looking for free bagage checking, and on the airline I most frequently take they take oversized items through a special window without any fee. Makes one wonder what sevice they are actually required to provide. If I didn't pay special handling for fishing rods, but they go through that window anyway, is there and implied duty of care that goes beyond what a person checking a camera in regular luggage would be entitled to.

I think they should do something for you, but check into your small claims rules before firing off a claim. If you signed a waiver, and take that to court, make sure you can't be assessed legal fees or court costs as some jurisdictions try to limit frivolous claims.

More grist for the brifter vs barend threads of the future.

Last edited by NoReg; 10-08-06 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 10-08-06, 12:26 PM   #4
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Keep us updated, spinnaker.

As an aside, I am interested because a friend and I just got back from a trip, flying through PHL (coincidence?). She flew onto San Francisco. Her frame was bent, has a crease in it. In her case, they forgot to make her sign anything at the start of the flight (Amsterdam), but like you she didn't take photos of it nor make a claim before she left the terminal. She discovered it when she was at her parents' house, 3 hours from San Francisco.

On the other hand, my bike is fine (I flew Amsterdam to PHL to Seattle). I rode 45 miles on it the day I put it back together. I am beginning to think that getting bikes intact through the airlines is a matter of luck, and I got lucky.
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Old 10-08-06, 12:30 PM   #5
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If you paid for your ticket by credit card you may get automatic baggage damage insurance through the card issuer. I know that does not resolve the mishandling issue but it may get you some cash.

Click here and scroll down to Traveler and Travel Plus.
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Old 10-08-06, 02:32 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Losligato
If you paid for your ticket by credit card you may get automatic baggage damage insurance through the card issuer. I know that does not resolve the mishandling issue but it may get you some cash.

Click here and scroll down to Traveler and Travel Plus.

Cool! Thanks for the idea! I just didn't think of that but it is so obvious. I am only looking for around $120-$150 here so it should not be a big deal. The brifters are actually going to cost me $210 plus install but I am buying two. One cost $130. Two cost $210. Makes more sense to just buy two but I can't in good conscious charge them for two.
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Old 10-08-06, 02:35 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FlowerBlossom
Keep us updated, spinnaker.

As an aside, I am interested because a friend and I just got back from a trip, flying through PHL (coincidence?). She flew onto San Francisco. Her frame was bent, has a crease in it. In her case, they forgot to make her sign anything at the start of the flight (Amsterdam), but like you she didn't take photos of it nor make a claim before she left the terminal. She discovered it when she was at her parents' house, 3 hours from San Francisco.

On the other hand, my bike is fine (I flew Amsterdam to PHL to Seattle). I rode 45 miles on it the day I put it back together. I am beginning to think that getting bikes intact through the airlines is a matter of luck, and I got lucky.
I have always had very bad luck with this airport. But mostly just delays and cancellations. Plus the airport is very expensive when it comes to food. PIT is great in the area of food. Very good prices. But speed of luggage handling is a different matter.
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Old 10-08-06, 07:09 PM   #8
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Several years ago Air Canada compensated me for the damage they caused to my bicycle. It was not easy. I wrote several times. They replied and refused to pay each time. Finally, after three letters, they sent me a cheque for $59.30, which is the amount I paid for repairs.

Perseverance furthers!

Here is a template of my letter that got the ball rolling. Feel free to modify and use it!

[Date]

[Airline company]
Claims
[Airline address]

Dear Sir or Madam,

Re: Damaged bicycle

On [date of flight], I was a passenger on [Airline] Flight XXX from [Departure place] to [Destination place]. Prior to boarding, I checked my bicycle as Excess Baggage.

From my seat (29K) I saw my bicycle loaded on to the plane. To my horror, the baggage handler picked up my bicycle, threw it into a container, and tossed a suitcase on top.

Upon my arrival in XXX, the rear rim was badly deformed, and the valve was broken. (No airline staff were on duty to whom to report the damage.) A bicycle mechanic in XXX made the wheel serviceable by truing it and replacing the inner tube. Furthermore, within a day of starting my bicycle trip, another problem became apparent: the rear derailleur was out of alignment. After I returned to YYY, it was necessary to true the wheel again, and adjust the gears.

I ask that [airline] reimburse these costs that I incurred in repairing the bicycle:

True the wheel.... $31.56
New inner tube.... $10.49
True the wheel and adjust gears... $17.25
Total... $59.30

I also ask that [airline] reimburse the $65 I paid to have my bicycle sent as Excessive Baggage, for a total of $124.30. It is not right that I pay to have my bicycle mistreated.

I lost an entire day of my holidays dealing with bicycle repairs. I cannot begin to estimate the value of the time lost due to the negligence of the baggage handler.

I also ask that the baggage handler who mishandled my bicycle be reprimanded, and taught how to handle bicycles. He does not seem to understand that a bicycle is a precision machine that must be treated with care.

Photocopies of my boarding pass and all receipts are enclosed. I will send the originals on request.

Sincerely,
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Old 10-09-06, 01:29 AM   #9
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I had FinnAir crush the head tube on a *new* frame. I was compensated for the full amount with very little hassle. I think the key to making it a smooth process is going to the airline office in person, things seem to move much quicker that way.

1) I went to the local FinnAir office with the damaged frame and spoke to them about it.

2) As per their request I went the the LBS and got an official letter that said the frame was destroyed.

3) Took the LBS letter and copies of the receipt to FinnAir.

4) in about a month or so the money was transfered to my account.

All this was two years ago. I hope this helps.
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Old 10-09-06, 06:08 AM   #10
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I contacted UsAirways last night by phone. I was told I needed to call TSA? Very strange, I can't see what TSA would have to do with it.


I thought about going into the office.
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Old 10-09-06, 06:41 AM   #11
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Fedex operates the same way. You can put up to several thousnd for insurance through Fedex. When the package gets damaged they will honor up to a 100 dollars. The Fedex says that Fedex insurance is not really insurance. It is to tell them how much is in the box. Do you need to really go to a place like Discount Shipping Insurance dsiins.com
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Old 10-09-06, 11:28 AM   #12
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Contacted UsAirways. They say that their website says they are not responsible for damage to bicycles. I found nothing on their website with this statement. I did see a statement saying they are not responsible for "fragile" items which could include bicycles.


I also signed a waiver. My attorney friend says basically, I am screwed.

I called the credit card company and I have warranty for one year after the manufacturers warranty. I guess I could try filing a claim there.
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Old 10-09-06, 11:33 AM   #13
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OK so where do we email? Just because they aren't legally repsonsible doesn't mean they should stand up when they've done wrong. I hate to see this kind of thing get laid off on some general insurance (though you gotta do what you gotta do), but really, the airline should shoulder the blame.
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Old 10-09-06, 11:39 AM   #14
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I tried emailing them. No response. I was given a fax number. Maybe I will craft a letter and send it.
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Old 10-09-06, 12:12 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ryanparrish
Fedex operates the same way. You can put up to several thousnd for insurance through Fedex. When the package gets damaged they will honor up to a 100 dollars. The Fedex says that Fedex insurance is not really insurance. It is to tell them how much is in the box.
Never had a bit of luck with any airline. Not even a sincere "sorry". THey stink, ship your bike with soemeone who wants your business.
I had my Trek MTB repainted after I presented a quote from a local frame painter. FedEx never flinched as my insurance was for $2200. Customer service was helpful and the driver even noted it on her Palm thingy that package was "destroyed".
I'll use them again!
My two cents...

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Old 10-09-06, 12:28 PM   #16
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Write a letter explaining your costs/troubles and the overall lack of aknowledgment of wrongdoing on their part when you've tried to communicate with them and you might at least get a roundtrip ticket out of it. Good Luck.
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Old 10-09-06, 01:35 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spinnaker
Contacted UsAirways. They say that their website says they are not responsible for damage to bicycles. I found nothing on their website with this statement. I did see a statement saying they are not responsible for "fragile" items which could include bicycles.


I also signed a waiver. My attorney friend says basically, I am screwed.

I called the credit card company and I have warranty for one year after the manufacturers warranty. I guess I could try filing a claim there.
Update of my friend's claim. She flew USAir too.

She found on the website that she has 24 hours for domestic, 7 days for international, to make a claim. She drove back to the airport, and, the USAir guy told her it was X-amount of hours, period (I forget if it was 4 hours or 24 hours...big difference but NOT the 7 days on the website). Back and forth they went, until the guy said that if anyone asks, she was told/warned that it was X-amt hours. (I think this guy was covering his behind.)

Then, the price she asked for was $800. According to my friend, the guy seemed surprised and said the max for a claim was $1200. They are going to send her paperwork, and, in the meantime she's going to take some photos with a digital camera.

Remember here, that my friend didn't sign a waiver at the initiation of this flight...which might make all the difference in the world between what happens to her claim and what will happen with your claim, spinnaker.
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Old 10-09-06, 02:03 PM   #18
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I called the credit card company and I have warranty for one year after the manufacturers warranty. I guess I could try filing a claim there.
Apples and oranges.

Apple: When you purchase a bicycle with your credit card you get an extension of the bicycle company's warranty for a year.

Orange: When you purchase an airline ticket with your credit card you get baggage insurance in excess of what the airline will cover.

You might give it another try.
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Old 10-09-06, 02:06 PM   #19
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You have to decide whether you want to win or just take whichever course is easiest. You want to win, then just keep asking and keep bothering them. Ask for all the names, ask for all their superiors. If you have ever worked in a service industry you have probably seen squeaky wheels get a totaly different treatment than folks who think policies are what determine outcomes. But then I'm "nice" enough that the cost of being squeaky usually isn't worth it to me.
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Old 10-09-06, 02:06 PM   #20
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I am about to pack our bikes in boxes for the flight to Bangkok.

...glad you posted this as I am now going to photograph the packing process and the bikes pre-flight...just in case.
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Old 02-08-07, 10:03 PM   #21
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did these damages occur with a hardsided bike carrier or more the cardboard box or soft sided bike bag? I am heading overseas this summer and don't think anything other than hardsided would be safe. I am hoping to find a place to store it on arrival. I'll also check the fedex route but seattle to rome sounds pricey .... hoping to justify a tommasini but spouse isn't buying it
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