We have always flown and truly love the staff at Southwest Airlines. Our trips have been uneventful, pleasant and always timely. This past week our daughter traveled home from college on spring break (Chicago to Denver to OC). She arrived late on a friday night, got home, went to bed. The next afternoon (when she awoke . . .yes, she is a college girl), she unpacked and discovered that she was missing 4 brand new bras ($100.00) and a $250.00 (on sale) Mountain Hardware Mynx Fleece Jacket.
She was not only extremely upset but felt very violated that an employee (of either Southwest or TSA) went through her checked bag and removed the lingerie and jacket. We immediately contacted Southwest and were advised that pursuant to their Contract/policy concerning claims relating to missing items that we complete and submit the online form. We completed the form, submitted it and received confirmation that we would receive a response within ten (10) days. In the meantime, we were required to purchase new lingerie (cannot go braless). Unfortunately, we were unable to replace the jacket as it was not within our current budget. It was our thought that we would be able to recoup the financial loss through Southwest and replace the jacket at a later date.
We were disappointed, saddened and angered by the response we received from Southwest (exactly 10 days later). Southwest indicated that in order to protect themselves from misuse and false claims, they require that any claims for stolen items be made IN PERSON to an airline employee within 4 hours of arrival! While we did not see this specific 4 hour in-person reporting on the baggage claim slip it is in all fairness on their website in the 32 page Contract for perusal at your leisure.
This policy is a bit biased toward Southwest in that I do not know of anyone who lands, retrieves their baggage, arrives at their destination, immediately unpacks and yes, if there are items missing,returns to the airport to report those items (and hopefully this has all occurred within 4 hours of your landing).
Our family is very grateful for the security measures which are there for our protection, we are not grateful that these same measures which are there to protect us are an avenue for thievery by those not so honest, opporutnistic airline/TSA employees and, the lack of protection/recourse provided to us for such thievery.
Due to Southwest's flippant reponse/Policy concerning thievery from checked baggage, we took the opportunity to report this incident to the Federal Aviation Commission/TSA. While they are unable to assist in the recouping of out of pocket expenses for the loss incurred, they will provide the information to the transporation security committee, airline coalition, airline consumer groups, other airlines and media.