Home Airlines Airline Lost Texas Woman’s Prosthetic Leg; Returned After 12 Days

Airline Lost Texas Woman’s Prosthetic Leg; Returned After 12 Days

by SharonKurheg

Not long ago, we wrote a piece about which airlines had the best and worst records for mishandling (read: losing or damaging) luggage in the first quarter of 2022. It was a little surprising to discover which airline had the best record. However even being the best (less than 0.2 bags mishandled out of every 100 bags) doesn’t mean (A) that will continue or (B) who knows what important things could be in those 0.2 bags out of 100.

Case in point, Emily Tuite, an Austin resident, recently had a flight from her home town to San Diego. She was flying on Allegiant, which has strict rules on carry-on items. Emily has a lower extremity amputation and besides the prosthesis she would wear on the plane, she has a second one that’s waterproof – she uses that one for showering, swimming, etc. She put that one in a bag that she checked.

Unfortunately, Allegiant lost her checked bag with the prosthesis in it. Tuite said it ruined her vacation because she spent the bulk of her time trying to work with the airline to locate her bag.

She said she spent hours speaking to people at customer service and other Allegiant employees. She said one airline rep told her the bag never made it onto her flight even though she received a slip with the tracking number when she checked it at the counter.

Custom-made prostheses are expensive and can take a long time to make and then fix until they fit “right” (so they’re comfortable, don’t cause sores, etc.). Insurance companies can also hinder the process.

“It can take over a year to have a leg made. It’s not easy with insurance to have medical devices remade for you,” Tuite said. “I was like I need to do everything in my power to get the bag back somehow, so, yeah, I did a lot to get there.”

She eventually reached out to a local TV station, KXAN, to intervene.

The day after KXAN’s representative reached a media spokesperson and shared information about the woman’s situation, Tuite finally got a phone call that the airline had found her bag. Her suitcase had somehow gotten another traveler’s information placed on it. So it had been sitting in baggage claim at an airport in Provo, Utah.

“So they were calling that person saying we have your bag, and that person was saying it’s not mine,” Tuite told KXAN after her bag was found. “Meanwhile, I’m frantic, panicked, thinking that my items are gone, like just stolen from the airport, so I really learned a lesson for sure about flying and tracking your stuff.”

“Our system baggage team works around the clock to ensure customer issues are resolved,” an airline spokesperson said. “We gave Ms. Tuite a refund in the amount of $60, which covers her baggage fees. In addition, we kindly asked Ms. Tuite to submit receipts for compensation and processing.”

Tuite says she’s going to invest in some Apple AirTags for her bags. She’s also going to bring her waterproof prosthesis with her as a carry-on, even though it’s heavy…which is, frankly, what we would have recommended all along. Something as precious and important as a prosthetic leg you need to take a shower should go right up there with medications in terms of “what you should put in your carry-on bag.”

She may not even have to pay to bring her prosthetic leg with her in the cabin – Allegiant does say that “bag fees do not apply to mobility aids, assistive devices and medical equipment of qualified persons with disabilities.”

I’m glad the story had a happy ending, but I’m sorry it happened in the first place.

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