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  • JetBlue stole my cameras: an open letter regarding my recent experience with JetBlue

    UPDATE (as of December 24th, 2012):  Due to the attention via social media, JetBlue has offered me a $1,000.00 travel voucher.  While this does not replace my cameras or equal their value, it is a significant gesture on their part and I am appreciative that they made an effort to resolve the situation.  

    Original Post:

    On the morning of Tuesday, December 18, 2012, I took Jet Blue flight 922 from Chicago O'Hare to Boston Logan.  Inside of my checked luggage, I had packed digital camera equipment that included two digital SLRs, two professional lenses, a professional flash with attachments, and several memory cards.  I was forced to check this equipment because I was already carrying on two other sets of camera equipment and could not fit these cameras in my carry on luggage.  Due to TSA requirements, I did not put a lock on my bag. 

    When I arrived at Boston Logan Airport, my suitcase felt lighter than when I dropped it off.  Upon opening it, I realized that all of my camera equipment (except for the camera bag, which was packed inside of my suitcase) had been stolen.  In Chicago, I handed my bag directly to the JetBlue baggage agent, and in Boston, I watched it come out of the luggage terminal, so there was absolutely no moment this theft could have happened except for when it was in the care of JetBlue. 

    The insured value of my camera equipment is $1,977.00, though the original purchase price and my replacement cost is much, much higher.  Additionally, I needed the equipment for several jobs in Boston and am now forced to rent camera equipment, increasing my costs even further. 

    I contacted JetBlue immediately and submitted a claim for my stolen equipment.  I also wrote a letter to Justin Thompson, Director of Customer Support, which I copied to David Barger, JetBlue’s Chief Executive Officer and Robert Maruster, JetBlue’s Chief Operating Officer.  I received a response (which I will post below) from Steve (JetBlue Airways Crewmember 30952), a specialist at central baggage who apologized but said JetBlue is not responsible for camera equipment in checked baggage and therefore I should not expect any monetary compensation.

    I fully acknowledge that there is a risk of damage or loss when checking items in your luggage, but theft by the airline personnel is absolutely not acceptable.  While my luggage was in their care, someone opened my bag and simply took all of my cameras, and they are now claiming they are not responsible in any way for this occurrence.  Given the strict rules around not locking luggage and the restrictions regarding the size and amount of carry on luggage, JetBlue leaves no option but to ask their customers to trust that their checked luggage will be treated with respect and will arrive in the same condition in which they sent it.  It is absolutely appalling that they are refusing to accept responsibility for this theft.  Essentially, as their rules stand, they have created a system in which their employees can steal your things and there is nothing you can do about it. 

    All I am asking from JetBlue is that they reimburse me for the insured cost of my stolen equipment and that they take responsibility for theft that occurs while luggage is in their care.  Any help you could provide in resolving this situation would be much appreciated.

    Sincerely,

    Jess T. Dugan

     

     

    JetBlue’s response (received December 22, 2012) to my initial letter sent on December 18, 2012:

     

    Dear Jess,

    Thank you for your message to JetBlue Airways. We sincerely regret to hear that your camera equipment was missing from your checked baggage. We can understand that this must have been an extremely frustrating and inconvenient experience. We can only assure you that your experience is not typical of the standards that we strive to maintain. We have shared your correspondence with our Baggage Leadership Team for review and training purposes.

    At JetBlue we make every attempt to minimize situations such as that which you have described. Our crewmembers have extensive background checks and work in a closely monitored environment where they are not allowed to open your bag in most situations (barring safety issues, or in attempt to determine the owner of a bag that is missing its identification). The same may be said of the monitoring and employment verification of the Transportation Security Administration (TSA). Unfortunately, it is not always possible to determine the cause of this type of incident unless it is witnessed or the missing item is located.

    We certainly do not allow or promote any type of disrespect toward our customers' belongings. Proof that a crewmember had not treated a customer's belongings with such respect as JetBlue's values dictate would result in swift and appropriate action toward that crewmember from JetBlue. If you have evidence of theft you may wish to also report this to the police, who are the proper authority to investigate allegations of criminal activity.

    Our records do indicate that Baggage Report BOSB600262964 was opened for this incident. However, as the items that were reported as missing fall under limited liability per the JetBlue Contract of Carriage, please be aware that this is a courtesy report that will not result in monetary compensation. You may reference our Contract of Carriage on our website, www.jetblue.com, under the Legal link.

    If we are able to locate your belongings you will be contacted to verify ownership.

    Please be aware that TSA regulations do not prohibit you from placing a lock on your baggage. For more information about TSA policies regarding baggage locks, please visit the following link:

    http://www.tsa.gov/traveler-information/baggage-locks

    You may also wish to contact and file a claim with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).
    The TSA, Transportation Security Administration, is an agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security which oversees the security of air, ground and maritime transportation networks.

    The TSA makes every attempt to ensure that your belongings are returned to your bag at the conclusion of the baggage screening, but they will assess any loss or damage claims that they receive. For the TSA contact information as well as the claim forms, please visit the TSA website at www.tsa.gov.

    We value you as a JetBlue customer and regret that you were disappointed with your recent experience. We hope that you choose to travel with us again and offer us the opportunity to regain your confidence. You can be sure that every effort will be made to ensure that our standard of service meets your expectations in the future.

    Sincerely,

    Steve
    Specialist, Central Baggage
    JetBlue Airways
    Crewmember 30952