News You Can Use

Airlines may not pay for your missing or damaged luggage


A Bellevue man learned the hard way that his lost luggage wasn’t covered.

Richard Knierim took a United Airlines flight to Tucson, Arizona with his golf clubs.  He arrived, but his clubs never made it.

“When I got to Tucson, my clubs weren’t there and then they never showed up,” Knierim said.

United’s baggage policy says it accepts one item of golf equipment per customer as checked baggage with a liability of $3500 per customer.

But that wasn’t the case for Knierim.

“Everything I had seen seemed to imply that they were going to cover my loss,” Knierim explained.

Knierim gathered all his documents and send a claim to the airline for his lost golf clubs.

He says United Airlines didn’t get back to him until several months later.

“I was surprised to receive a response… that United will not be covering this loss,” Knierim said.

In the fine print, United Airlines says golf clubs are excluded from the limits of liability.

“I was angry. I just didn’t think it was fair,” Knierim explained.

United’s list of exclusions includes many recreational and sporting goods, medicine and medical equipment,

eye glasses, strollers, and irreplaceable items.

“It’s just underhanded and wrong,” Knierim explained.

I checked other airlines for their policies concerning sporting goods, including Alaska, American, Delta,

Southwest and JetBlue. Each airline covers golf clubs with some conditions.

“I’ve got over 45,000 miles in frequent flier United miles and I may not use those now,” Knierim explained.

I called Perry Ponti with Pro Golf Discount and told him Knierim’s story.  The company was able to give Knierim the same set of clubs he originally had, and an upgraded driver, a fairway wood, and a new golf bag.

Here are three steps you can take to protect certain luggage items:

FedEx or UPS the goods to your destination.

Use a specialized shipping carrier.

Budget for renting what you’ll need instead

United Airlines Statement: 

We’re disappointed anytime a customer has an experience that doesn’t measure up to their expectations. More than a year ago, we reached out directly to Mr. Knierman to apologize for not being able to locate his golf clubs after flying with us, despite our Customer Care team working diligently to try to locate them. 

Before you book your next trip, make sure you read the contracts of carriage of the airline you choose.


Alaska Airlines


American Airlines


Jet Blue

You can always buy travel insurance. In most cases, it will cover lost or damaged baggage.

For a family of four on a $2,000 trip, the cost for a basic plan is around $100.

For more information on travel insurance, click here.


Share on Facebook
Share on Twitter