Michael Kerjman v United Airlines
a A traveler had chosen the United Airlines (UA) for an Australia-New York City-Australia two-stop flight. Stops were in Australia and the USA (at Los Angeles International-LAX)
In Australia on departure a responsible law-obedient customer followed a United Airlines staff member’s advice by locking a luggage, and had it checked and taken into a care of the air carrier responsible -according to existing regulations- for a safe trip and delivering a luggage checked to a final point of destination that was New York (JFK)
b As a part of a Respondent’s service, the air carrier had promised and did provide luggage arrangements at the US boarder crossing at LAX where baggage was handed to travelers imminently prior to the US Customs checkpoint and dropped off at a special United Airlines International Luggage Section straight after the Customs line.
Having border/customs formalities behind and his luggage in a care of the United Airlines, an Applicant was advised by an air carrier - Respondent to continue a flight in three hours than originally scheduled because of impossibility to position his luggage into a New York-bound jet departing in nine minutes.
At JFK on 1a.m. local time, after about a twenty-nine hour trance-continental trip a passenger had received his badly damaged travel bag, a fashionable digit lock cut off, and realized Oakley sunglasses gone.
A United Airlines agent at JFK had explained that a bag was randomly selected and checked as a part of routine anti-terrorism arrangements, and refused to take further actions suggested with procedures for a luggage being lost or stolen. No US Transportation Security Administration (TSA) protective tag required with local rules, but a plastic bag bearing “United Airlines” secured a content of an international passenger’s travel bag and two notices inside, both different from an example provided by the UA recently.
It is eventually worthfull to mention, that one notice informed of “locked bags will be opened if necessary” as other stated that “your bag was among selected for inspection” and “the contents were returned to your bag”.
As understood, an unexpected three hour stopover at the Los Angeles airport allowed inspecting a luggage already passed through the Australian / U.S. Customs and imminently dropped off at the United Airlines international transit baggage counter in a presence of an owner if some confusing signs of prohibited items were still in the already cleared at the departure and by the U.S. Customs travel bag questioned.
A reason is unclear for deliberately damaging an Applicant’s luggage if a single operation allowed an easy urgent access to its content in a only case of an imminent danger it could posses to air passengers, staff members or property
c Told not being linked with a sad occurrence, US$ 75 United Airlines travel voucher was proposed as a complimentary guest of an air carrier, rejected by a customer immediately, mailed at Australian address and returned to issuer in some time from Australia
d As understood, no regulation or/and international legislation shift the safely carrying passengers and delivering check-in luggage responsibilities from air companies to third parties. This reality was actualized during telephone conversations with a United Airlines in the States by registering a case at last
e Following up a loss of goods of a great sentimental value, inconvenience cased with the UA continuing ignorance of an issue, pain and suffering multiplied with limbo of customers’ rights while traveling with the United Airlines, occurrence-related additional expenses might too hardly be compensated even with A$9990 sought as a relief and remedy at the Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Australia.
A travel bag and related miscellaneous could be provided as a testimony to further substantiate this information if required.
II. The Tribunal Order
“Dismissed. Oral reasons given at hearing”
III. Case-Related Thoughts
a A first stop of an Australia-originated USA-bound international flight was scheduled at the Australian airport then highlighted as a centre of controversy of the notorious drug-trafficking Corby process on Bali, Indonesia.
No legislative demand to have luggage unlocked existed in Australia.
Therefore, an air company’s advice to lock luggage is seen to be legal, logical, responsible and caring the passenger’s security and possessions
b Neither during a trance-continental leg of an international flight nor at the United Airlines International Luggage Section imminently after the LAX border crossing any reminder or request concerning the locks were provided by a personnel authorised
c According to TAC:
In some cases screeners will have to open your baggage as part of the screening process. If your bag is unlocked then TSA will simply open and screen the baggage.
However if you decide to lock your checked baggage and TSA cannot open your checked baggage through other means, then the locks may have to be broken.http://www.tsa.gov/public/interapp/editorial/deitorial_1909.xml
(found on 14 March 2006)
“Selectee and most random searches will now be conducted at the checkpoints where the TSA staff and equipment are concentrated.http://www.roadandtravel.com/airlines/airlinerules.htm
(14 March 2006)
d A loss of a luggage occurred because of an easy access into a traveller’s bag, which what resulted from a string of actions over a checked accepted luggage being in a care of an air carrier. It is no passenger responsibility to point out at a particular person being responsible for a sure loss.
e More recent introducing of the TAC accessible locks has been perhaps a practical reflection on a general reality of air companies’ luggage services practice.
f United Airline had written “to acknowledge a personal side of this issue” and told having a case finalised by sending US$ 200 travel voucher prior to the hearing at Civil and Administrative Tribunal in Australia. This voucher was returned to an issuer as usual
Supporting further improvements of air service security in epoch of straitening anti-terrorist activities, an unhappy United Airlines customer would like to draw attention to minimisation of side-effects of somehow existing loopholes in air security improvements, which stipulates both a case and this posting.
Really, what is a point to pay for a service resulted in a damage and loss if such a result might be achieved by anyone him/herself for free?
Readers’ topic-related thoughts and advice on practically achieving the reimbursement from United Airlines are welcome.
Photo: LAX : August Sunset. By M.Kerjman. All rights reserved.