Travel Trouble

By Matt Ginella Illustrations by Christoph Niemann
March 16, 2008

Q: On a recent trip my golf bag arrived a day later than I did, so I had to rent clubs and buy a new pair of golf shoes. Now I wish I'd asked the airline to reimburse me. Would they?

-- Howard Beale / Knoxville, Tenn

A: Just like their baggage, some airlines handle problems better than others. American, United and Jet Blue, for example, treat each claim on a case-by-case basis. In general, they will reimburse passengers for the cost of rental sets, shoes and golf balls. This is key: You must file a claim and get authorization for the reimbursement before you leave the airport.

Delta? Not so generous. The Atlanta-based airline caps its compensation for lost luggage at $25 a day, and this includes golf clubs, according to an airline spokesperson. You can't even claim the $25 until the luggage has been missing for 24 hours.

On the other hand, $25 is better than nothing. So if your bag doesn't make it off the plane, go straight to the airport luggage office and file that claim.