Reporting Kurtis Ming
A Carmichael woman took her first plane ride and the airline lost her bag! When she couldn’t get reimbursed, she called Kurtis.
She filed a claim with Southwest Airlines but it was denied because her bag was a “conditional acceptance.”
What does that mean?
Flying from Sacramento to Burbank, Diane Guerena couldn’t wait to take her first flight.
“I’ve never been on a plane before, I didn’t know what to expect,” said Diane.
Her suitcase was overweight so she removed a Coach backpack from her luggage. Her mom told her to bring it aboard.
“Because it was small enough to be taken as an overhead,” said Rosie Guzman, Diane’s mother.
But Diane says a Southwest employee encouraged her to check the backpack, wrapping it in a plastic bag.
“She told me no, no, no, you can just check it in, there’s not going to be an extra fee, it’ll be perfectly fine,” said Diane.
Arriving in Burbank, her big suitcase was there but no sign of her backpack.
Instead, a plastic bag, circling around on the carousel.
“I’m looking and I’m like, that looks like my bra, that looks like my underwear. It was so embarrassing,” said Diane.
Her make-up and personal items dumped out… her coach bag and other valuables gone.
Diane filed a claim for $690 to cover the bag and lost items
But Southwest denied it, saying her backpack was checked in with a conditional acceptance.
Instead they offered her a $100 voucher.
“I feel really violated, I honestly feel like they pick-pocketed me,” said Diane.
According to Southwest’s Contract of Carriage, a bag is conditionally accepted if it’s “improperly or over-packed” or if the bags have “soft-sided cases.”
Travel attorney, Al Anolik, says the airline should inform flyers about conditional acceptance at check-in.
“You can’t give away your rights unless you know what your rights are,” said Anolik.
We reached out to Southwest. In an email, they tell us:
“Our records show we tagged her bag as conditionally accepted, and marked it as such…”
“Per our contract of carriage, a signature is not required but is sometimes done as a courtesy…”
– Brooks Thomas, spokesperson
Southwest still denied Diane’s $690 claim but offered her a $500 voucher for her inconvenience.
Diane plans to accept and promises to listen to her mom from now on.
“Absolutely, listen to your mother… mother knows best, it’s not my first rodeo,” said Rosie.
Southwest says its not admitting liability here.
The airline also said during the claims process it didn’t receive sufficient information from Diane. Although, they wouldn’t tell us what was missing.
If the airline denies your claim, you can file a complaint with the Department of Transportation. Passengers can get up to $3,300 for loss, damaged or delayed luggage. Or you can always take the airline to small claims court.