United Airlines Lost My Luggage, Part 2: The Wait For Reimbursement

alaska from plane

Update: United Airlines lost my baggage. I eventually received my $100 voucher and the full reimbursement claim. It took many months and repeated phone calls. My advice is to be persistent and keeping calling.

You may remember that when we flew to Alaska for our epic week-long adventure, United lost our luggage, including all of our camping gear, requiring a lot of hustling to buy new equipment before heading to Denali National Park.

I’ve had some reader inquiries regarding how that all turned out, so here’s an update.

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Return of the luggage

The bag never showed up in Alaska, but it finally arrived back to my home in Chicago a week after we returned. That’s the good news.

The bad news is that United refuses to waive the $25 baggage fee I paid to have them ship the pack to Alaska. You’d think that since the bag never actually, you know, arrived at its destination, they would refund the fee.

When I voiced my outrage to the United phone rep from India, I was offered a voucher for future travel on the airline.

Although my opinion of this company is not very positive at the moment, I accepted the offer, thinking that the voucher could come in handy for a short weekend flight somewhere.

anchorage united flight

I was promised I would receive the voucher within 30 days. You can probably guess that 30 days came and went without a voucher.

When I called back, a second United rep from India apologized profusely and said it was on the way and would arrive within one week.

Ten days later, I called to inquire about the whereabouts of the voucher. A third United rep from India had no answer, nor could he give me a new date when I should expect to receive it.

This was the most perplexing call, as there was no attempt at any sort of customer service at all, and no proposed resolution.

Two weeks later, I called again and was told by a fourth United rep from India that the voucher had never actually been processed, and that it would now be given “priority.” I would have to give it another 30 days, though.

Day number 30 is September 23, so we’ll see if it arrives this week. That’s where things are with the voucher.

What about emergency supply reimbursement?

Now, onto the issue of being reimbursed for our emergency purchases. Since our baggage never made it to Alaska and we had a week full of camping ahead of us, we had to buy all new supplies.

When we called United to authorize these emergency purchases, we were told they would not approve buying new camping supplies but would instead approving the cost of renting them.

The rep who gave us this information was obviously uninformed about the cost of renting camping gear in Alaska.

tent campground - united airlines lost baggage policy

Had we gone to REI in Anchorage and rented a tent, sleeping bags, and backpacks for a full week, the cost would have been several hundred dollars.

Instead, we went to discount department stores and bought all-new (if cheap and poorly-made) replacement items for $108.

We actually saved United hundreds of dollars by going this route. Will the company include a note of gratitude with its reimbursement check?

Or will they deny or claim entirely, based on the fact that technically we did not abide by the instruction to rent our gear?

The process of getting reimbursed for these items takes eight weeks, so we’re still waiting on that one to play out.

I’ll be sure to keep you posted on how things go, as well as any comment from United along the way.

United’s Current Delayed / Lost Baggage Policy

Here’s the official United Airlines lost baggage policy as of 2024.

The United website requires customers with lost baggage or missing items to file a claim and get a “file reference number.”

That number will be used to fill out a form where you’ll need to list everything that was in the bag, its value, and include any receipts you may have.

Dealing with baggage issues is a big hassle, and sadly, it’s becoming a more frequent occurrence. This is true of all airlines, not just United. But you’d hope that their customer service would be just a bit better by now.

I don’t fly United often, but I’d feel better about boarding their planes if they had a more solid track record when it comes to dealing with customers whose baggage they lost. Hopefully things will improve in the future.

Has anyone ever gone through the process of being reimbursed for lost luggage from United? I’d love to hear how your situation worked out.