Just arrived in Seattle after doing the Lake Shore to Chicago for the Empire builder forward. On arrival my checked suitcase is missing. I am flying to Germany tomorrow morning, and then back to my home in MA later this month.
The Amtrak staff said they would call me in the morning, but it's clear they won't have my case by the time I need to leave as even if it happens to be on tomorrow's incoming EB then this will arrive after I have left.
My ideal choice would be for them to forward the case to Germany but does anyone know whether they will do this?
If they won't, then I will need to buy new clothes and a new suitcase.
They tried to offer me $100 at the station but I said I didn't think this would cover what I need. Then they said they'd call me in the morning.
I know their site states that their liability is limited to $500, but I assumed this was in the case of an outright loss. Does anyone know how much I can push them tomorrow? If they won't send the suitcase to Germany then I think I need at least $300 if I'm not to be left out of pocket.
Pre-TSA I would have said that you might have had a fighting chance to get Amtrak to turn the bag over to your airline and have them fly it out on the next plane possible. But I suspect that's not an alternative anymore with today's security theater.
I quite honestly don't know if they would agree to ship the suitcase to you when it arrives. However, unless the Lake Shore ran really late into Chicago, I have to wonder if your bag simple got put in the baggage area for the Portland section of the train. If that happened, then there is a good chance that they could get it on a Cascades train in the morning and get it up to Seattle possibly before your flight, especially if you go out late in the day.
As for asking for money, since technically the bag isn't declared lost yet, they don't have to give you anything. Even the $100 was above and beyond at this point. I realize that may not help you too much, but there is still the chance that will find the bag for you and send it back to Boston for you to pick up on your return. In that case, they're paying you for something that isn't lost.
Yes, their failure gives you a huge problem, I'm not denying that. But I don't see them going too far in the dollar department until the bag is declared lost.
The LS was 2 hours late into CHI, and the EB was 4 hours late leaving. The Portland portion was a bus in the end, with the whole consist going to SEA. Not sure if any of this matters.
Two hours late into Chicago would not be enough to cause your bag to miss getting on the Builder; even if it had left on time.
And the fact that the whole train went to Seattle still wouldn't change things. If your bag was accidentally put into the checked luggage area of the Portland section, Amtrak would have simply emptied that secured area either right into the bottom of the bus or rented a truck to move all the bags en-mass to Portland.
Originally Posted by User Name
Feeling very deflated at this point in my journey...
And I wish that I had better news or other suggestions, but alas there probably isn't much to do, other than hope that it went to Portland. After that dream fades, start buying and hope that Amtrak gives you something to help.
Once you're back home, you can call up customer service and discuss things. If the bag is found, CS might at least be willing to issue a voucher good for X dollars towards a future trip for your inconvenience. If the bag hasn't turned up, then you might be able to get more cash out of them at that point.
I don't like to start a story on FT and then not provide any updates, so here goes:
The suitcase was loaded onto the EB in Chicago the following day, so by the time it arrived in Seattle I was already boarding a flight to Germany
The Amtrak staff agreed to FedEx the case to the German address I would be staying at. I was unhappy when I found that they waited 3 days though before takling it to the local FedEx office (because they were "busy") and then only to find out that they needed a fax of my passport, which delayed things a further day
When I finally received it in Germany, my Samsonite hard-shell case was broken in four places - including a 5-inch split in the hard-shell itself
I called Amtrak who mailed me a claim form to my US address (where I am now)
According to the form, for the purposes of a damage claim I need an official letter from a suitcase repair company stating that the case can be repaired (and the cost) or that it cannot be repaired. The letter also needs to state their opinion on the agen and current value of the case.
After much Googling and phoning around I see that the closest luggage repair places are minimum 40 miles away from where I live! I simply don't have the time to do (two?) return trips to one of them - which would come with an associated cost as well. The hard-shell itself is split, so I definately don't want a repair performing as this will reduce the structural integrity of the case.
At this point I have had enough. The case was lost and now it is damaged. I did end up incurring small costs and inconvenience along the way and now to comply with Amtrak damage claim rules I will incur far more. I am inclined to complete the claim form and include a covering letter (including photographs of the damage) but explaining why I have not obtained a letter from a luggage repair company, but I wanted to post here first in case anyone has any relevent experiences they would be kind enough to share.
My first thought was that FedEx was acting on Amtrak's behalf so I expected Amtrak to make me whole - and they could choose to sort things out with FedEx if they wanted. Now I'm wondering whether the FedEx claim procedure is any more customer-friendly than Amtrak's?
It appears that FedEx's claim rules exclude the ability to claim for broken baggage.
I filed my claim with Amtrak as described two posts above and, 4 weeks later, I have yet to receive any acknowledgement. I have not chased by phone as yet as I've been very busy (and when I called to inform them initially of the damage my call was in queue for well over 20 minutes - is this typical?) - but I realize this is the logical next step.