My Experience with Delta Checked Baggage

I’m a proponent of packing & traveling light, so I very, very rarely check a bag. On flights I’ve taken with Delta, despite flying quite often, I think I’ve probably checked a bag four or five times in the last few years. Unfortunately of those four or five times, I’ve had my bag damaged three of them.


The first was traveling back to Virginia, checking a hard case with a pistol in it. Due to the item inside, it received a special tag. A tag which I thought would ensure it received a little extra care. When I got the case it looked like someone had thrown it down the stairs. Down the stairs of the Empire State Building. I was surprised it hadn’t completely cracked open. I went to the Delta desk, filed the claim, received the packaging materials and went through the process. (Delta uses a third party to handle damage claims do it takes a while.) After some back and forth on price, I got a check for what I thought was fair for the cost of the case.


Skip ahead a couple of years later and I checked one of my backpacks while traveling from New York to Iowa on New Years Day. I had status with Delta so my bag got the yellow “priority” tag. When I arrived and picked it up, I saw the bag wasn’t “damaged” so much as it had some type of paint/chalk all over it. When I was able to get around to it a couple of days later, I submitted a claim and received the automated response. I then replied with the estimated value. I received a nice response from Gary within a decent amount of time, about a week later, and Delta provided me with a check for $100.


Dear Mr. Bierfeldt:

Please accept our apologies for the condition in which you received your suitcase after your arrival in Des Moines on January 1, 2014.

Please be assured that every precaution is made to have a passenger’s luggage arrive in the same condition as when it was checked into our care. We succeed with few exceptions, and regret the mishandling on your trip.

Our check for $100.00, to reimburse you for the damaged bag, will be mailed under separate cover. You should receive it within the next ten business days.

We appreciate, and thank you for, your choice of Delta to provide your air transportation and look forward to being able to welcome and serve you, once again, on board one of our flights.


Gary Tomlinson
Claims Manager
Consumer Affairs Baggage
Delta Air Lines


A year after that, and last week I returned from a cruise and a flight from Florida to New York. I was traveling with a friend and we both checked a bag. Again, due to my status I received the yellow priority tag. We used the outdoor skycap service since the line was long inside. We were done in just a few minutes. I even gave the rep helping us a pretty nice tip. Skycap service, nice tip, and priority tag and I assumed everything would go smooth with the bags.


Unfortunately that wasn’t the case. When we picked up our bags we noticed that one of them looked like Freddy Krueger had used it to sharper his gardening gloves.


I filed a claim with the Delta staff on duty, got the paperwork and shipping info and as of now I’m waiting to hear back on the claim. I understand that bags get damaged, but in my case, it just works out that in the very few times I’ve checked a bag with Delta, it always seems to have something go wrong. As I mentioned, I’ve probably checked four, maybe five bags with Delta over the last few years and I’ve had three major damages take place. And on top of that I do fly quite a bit with Delta, am a Gold Skymiles member and as you see above, had a priority tag placed on it. There’s no excuse to not treating everyone’s bags well regardless of status, but you would think those things would at least ensure some extra care is given.

My experience with Delta when it comes to checking bags has, for the most part, been very disappointing. I do like Delta and have had excellent customer service interactions with them when it comes to fixing a problem or righting a wrong. But how they handle customer’s bags is something that needs to be improved.

I’ll be posting an update on how this latest incident plays out, and how timely Delta/their third party handles this.