OUCH: American Fails to Load Bags at Miami for 8 Hours, Doesn’t Tell Passengers

Readers of this blog know that I’m generally a fan of American Airlines, I fly over 100,000 miles a year with them and I think the AAdvantage program is the most rewarding airline frequent flyer program at least at the top elite tier.

Every once in awhile though an airline does something that reminds you why people hate airlines. This time it happened to be American.

Apparently American’s baggage system broke down in Miami for several hours on Friday. The airline couldn’t deliver checked bags to aircraft.

  • Planes took off without any checked bags loaded
  • Passengers weren’t told their bags weren’t onboard
  • Indeed, in many cases they weren’t even informed on arrival at their destination

Usually when truly terrible situations develop, there’s an external factor (most often its weather) combined with very bad decision-making.

Here the baggage system broke down. That’s going to mean terrible inconveniences, and big costs for American getting the bags where they need to go.

Do you inform passengers on the ground? There could be a fear of very upset passengers, even chaos ensuing. On the other hand people will know what to expect. They could even choose not to fly without their bags.

American probably isn’t well-equipped to pull passengers bags for those who chose not to fly, although I’ve had airlines pull and re-tag bags for me mid-trip several times in other parts of the world.

    Greenwald seems to think this is American’s fault, rather than a ruse by the NSA to have time to search his luggage.

Clearly each flight’s cockpit crew knew they were flying without luggage. And a decision was made not to inform passengers.

Unfortunately the frustrations were compounded even further when passengers arrived, only to wait at baggage claim. And wait. And Wait. And Wait.

American Airlines did not explicitly alert customers of the glitch, according to accounts from several passengers contacted by International Business Times. Travelers waited at luggage carousels in airports around the world, only to be greeted by empty belts where their bags should have been.

…”We waited another 45 minutes to see a customer service agent to file our locator claim,” Vendikos said. “That was the frustrating part — American Airlines didn’t say anything. You think they would tell us so we’re not waiting. We wasted a good hour and a half.”

And of course when something unexpected like this happens — weather at least can usually be planned for — customer service is overwhelmed.

My best to everyone affected by the glitch, hopefully they’ll be reunited with their bags soon. This certainly isn’t the best optics the very week that Delta announced a 2500 mile baggage delivery guarantee.

(HT: Reid F.)

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

More articles by Gary Leff »



  1. Wow. I wonder how many of these passengers are going to file delayed baggage claims with the credit card and/or trip insurance companies?

  2. Something doesn’t quite add up here. The article claims a technical issue with a conveyor belt. What happened to all the bags then for 8 hours then that continued to be accepted? That is a lot of luggage that just gets stacked up somewhere. Did connecting bags make it? Can no one look at a luggage tag and determine which flight it needs to go to?

    Anyways, sucks if you were flying yesterday I guess. Hopefully you are reunited with your bag in short order.

  3. Had luggage go missing for 2 days last week on AA from QR connection. one bag went to LAX from IAH and was told that bags get loaded and scanned even if wrong flight, no way for them to intervene or pull bag broken technology? . Honest and straight forward communication goes a long way to reducing stress and complaints, something that is sadly lacking these days. Good luck to those whose bags are trying to find them. we need GPS !!!

  4. There must be more to this story… it sounds like they weren’t even informing staff of the baggage problems! I can’t wait to hear the details….

  5. I am in the midst of a baggage issue with American Airlines. EWR-DFW-NRT on American Airlines. NRT-BKK on Japan Airlines (American Airlines Code share).

    ERW-DFW delayed two hours. I barely made my connection. My bag did not. I am thinking no biggie, it will arrive tomorrow and they will send it to my hotel. Never arrived. American Airlines is saying it is Japan Airline that has to resolve it. Japan Airlines is say we did not receive the bag. Sheese.

    I personally do not believe it ever left Dallas.

  6. Heads should Roll for This Level of Incompetence, PERIOD. And to think that This Situation went on for over 8 hours and No One stepped up to make the problem known………Gross Negligence. TERMINATE from The TOP Down.

  7. Why should the airlines care, with the recent decisions of the Supreme Court they can pretty much do anything they want. Try to sue an airline, they don’t really care anymore. Its like they have diplomatic immunity. Regulation now means immunity from prosecution. At worst they can impose complicated and difficult claims processes and deny, deny, deny till you give up. What you don’t like it, there are no legal recourses anymore.
    Look for more and more actions like this coming from the airlines, from Delta, UA and other majors. Its a changed world now.

  8. Its Good News – Bad News Time

    Bad News – American will not waive the baggage fee for the missing luggage

    Good News – American will waive the ticket change fee for routing the baggage through Cucamonga and Timbuktu to its final destination two days later

  9. I’m glad it happened to Glenn Greenwald since he’s been covering for the traitor and skinny dick, Edward Snowden

  10. Flew to Spain last year from Chicago. My luggage never made it. Spent 2 weeks without my luggage. My suitcase arrived in Barcelona on the afternoon the day before we left. Picked up my suitcase at about 5 pm on Friday. Flew back to US on Saturday 6 AM. American sucked in helping me locate my luggage.

  11. For all of Delta’s sins (and they are legion), at least the Fly Delta app tells me when (if) my baggage made it on the plane. (This was useful when I did a SDC to a flight that went through LAX (got 1st class upgrade), and Delta still sent my bags direct to my final destination. It meant I could hop on the earlier flight to my final destination, knowing I wouldn’t have to worry about my bags.)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *