Airline returns woman’s lost bag containing prosthetic leg after 12 days
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The stress an air traveler has been feeling for the past 12 days eased Monday afternoon when the suitcase containing a vital item finally arrived at her home in Austin.
Emily Tuite described the days leading up to that moment as “traumatic” as the bright blue bag she checked in for her September 1 flight from Austin to San Diego had her waterproof prosthetic leg inside. She planned to use the expensive, custom medical device to do everything from swimming in the Pacific Ocean to showering. However, the critical baggage never reached its final destination, which she says ruined her trip because of all the time she spent unsuccessfully trying to find it.
“It can take more than a year to have a leg made. It’s not easy with insurance to have medical devices redone for you,” Tuite said. “I felt like I had to do everything in my power to get the bag back somehow, so yeah, I did a lot to make it happen.”
She turned to Nexstar’s KXAN on Friday for help after exhausting other options. Hours spent calling customer service and talking to Allegiant Airlines employees came to nothing. She said a representative told her at one point that the bag never arrived on her flight from Austin, even though she had received a slip with the tracking number when she checked it at the counter. . She assumed that someone must have stolen the luggage.
However, a day after KXAN contacted a media spokesperson and shared information about Tuite’s situation, she finally received a phone call that the airline had found her bag. Somehow, Tuite’s suitcase contained another traveler’s information, so she had been sitting in the baggage claim area the whole time at the airport in Provo, Utah.
“So they would call that person saying, ‘We have your bag,’ and that person would say, ‘It’s not mine,'” Tuite said. “Meanwhile I’m frantic, panicked, thinking my items are gone, like they’ve just been stolen from the airport, so I really learned a lesson for sure about stealing and tracking your things.”
In a statement, Allegiant Airlines apologized to Tuite for the mishandling of her bag.
“Our system baggage team is working around the clock to ensure customer issues are resolved,” an airline spokesperson said. “We reimbursed Ms. Tuite an amount of $60, which covers her baggage costs. In addition, we kindly asked Ms. Tuite to submit receipts for compensation and treatment.
According to its statement, Allegiant said it would reimburse travelers with a mishandled bag for “reasonable and not excessive necessities,” such as personal hygiene products and clothing.
Tuite said she found it disappointing that the airline did not offer to cover the cost of her flight.
“My whole trip was spent on the phone trying to contact them,” Tuite said. “It’s frustrating to think there’s no other compensation for losing someone’s medical device for 12 days.”
For future trips, she plans to buy Apple AirTag devices to stick in her luggage, so she can track the location herself. She also intends to wear her waterproof prosthesis even if it is heavy.
“As a disabled person, you don’t always want to carry your device with you all the time. You hope you can verify it,” Tuite said. “But hopefully if I check it with an Apple AirTag in there, I’ll at least know where it is myself.”
She also suggests that whenever other travelers decide to check a bag, they should now ask the airline attendant to see all the tags placed on their bags to ensure the correct information is listed, so that no one goes through what she has been doing for the past few days.