Note to Self: Don’t Pack Tech When Flying

By  |  Wednesday, March 11, 2009 at 5:20 pm

airplane_movie2One of the stories linked in today’s 5Words had me grumbling.

A Yale University student is suing US Airways for losing his Xbox 360, which was packed among his checked bags. But it’s not a simple matter of lost luggage; the kid opened his suitcase after pulling it from baggage claim to find all his belongings inside except the console and accompanying components. He wants $1 million for damages, but that’s not the part that shocked me.

In the story, reported by the Cincinnati Enquirer, a US Airways spokeswoman said the airline isn’t responsible because “publicly available baggage policies specifically exclude liability for electronics checked in luggage.”

Is this common knowledge? I know most people understand that fragile items may not survive the rigors of baggage handling — we’ve all seen luggage carelessly tossed about the tarmac — but the idea that airlines take no responsibility whatsoever, even if the item magically disappears from a suitcase, seems pretty wild to me.

I pulled up the baggage liability limitations for all the other major U.S. airlines — American, Continental, Delta and United — and they all say the same thing. To paraphrase: You’re welcome to bring your electronics on board or in checked baggage, but don’t blame us if anything goes wrong. Continental’s policy even excludes liability for CDs, DVDs and cell phones.

The other factor, besides the airlines, is the Transportation Security Administration. Travel writer Christopher Elliott wrote a lengthy article filled with horror stories of TSA agents swiping things (“Taking Something Always,” he calls the administration) and tips on how to hang on to your stuff. Basically, it boils down to one piece of advice: Keep it in your sights, or leave it at home.

Duly noted.

 
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5 Comments For This Post

  1. DZ Says:

    For frequent business travelers, it’s common knowledge: Laptops get stolen from checked baggage. It’s also common knowledge that US Airways and the Philadelphia airport are the worst offenders.

  2. Tom Says:

    Maybe its time the airlines started checking on their employees!
    Several years ago one of the tv news magazines did a story on employees
    stealing out of luggage. They seemed to have no problems getting this on film so why should the airlines? This stuff has been going on for years so maybe its time for a lesson to be taught and learned. This applies to all the airlines, not just US Air.

  3. JDoors Says:

    Sounds similar to all the self-serving caveats attached to insurance policies: “This would cost us a bundle, so we’ll just ignore it.”

    Would additional travel insurance cover electronics?

  4. JDoors Says:

    Sounds similar to all the self-serving caveats attached to insurance policies: “This would cost us a bundle, so we’ll just ignore it.”

    Would additional travel insurance cover electronics?
    P.S.: Wanted to mention good post!

  5. Jared Newman Says:

    Thanks for the kind words, JDoors.

    From American’s liability page:
    “Excess insurance may not be purchased for items excluded from our liability; such as jewelry, cash, computers, etc. Please see Limits of Liability for details.”

    Electronics are in that “excluded from our liability” group, so even additional insurance won’t cover you. I’m not sure if it’s the same for all airlines; not all of them specify on their baggage information pages. It’s probably best to ask the airline, or the insurance provider. Personally, I’m through packing away electronics or any other valuables.

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