Laptop damage - Airline policy?

Reply

Old Feb 19, 19, 10:02 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Corona, CA
Programs: UA MM 1KP, AA GLD, SWA A-List, ICH Ambassador Spire Elite, HHonors DMD, Hertz Gold, National EC
Posts: 21
Laptop damage - Airline policy?

On a recent UA flight.
My arriving flight from SIN-SFO was late and I had to rush to the gate to get my SFO-ONT flight.
I was the last one to board.
They insisted there was no more overhead bin space and I would have to check my Laptop bag.
When I got home and opened my bag to remove my laptop, I noticed it had been severely damaged, actually crushed on the back left side.
It is a Dell Precision Workstation....not cheap.
I have contacted United about it and they want me to take it to Ontario, CA UA baggage department for inspection.

How will they handle this?
Will they keep my laptop....in which case I have to "sanitize" it before giving it to them. It has a lot of work related software and files on it.
Will they buy me an "equivalent" replacement or replace it? Will I have to leave it with them?
NetNathan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 10:13 am
  #2  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Programs: UA 1K | MR Platinum
Posts: 487
Why did your laptop get the boot instead of being stored under the seat in front of you? Bulkhead?

Secondly, was it in a regular laptop bag or some kind of other setup? UA's liability page says this:

United is not liable for the destruction, loss or damage of any baggage caused by:
  • Inherent defect of baggage
  • Poor quality of baggage
  • Baggage being over-packed
  • Ordinary wear and tear
Makes me think a regular laptop bag may be considered "poor quality" given that it's not designed to be checked to begin with...
ContinentalFan and Beano like this.
mtftw is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 10:19 am
  #3  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 44,836
Originally Posted by NetNathan View Post
On a recent UA flight.
...
They insisted there was no more overhead bin space and I would have to check my Laptop bag.
When I got home and opened my bag to remove my laptop, I noticed it had been severely damaged, actually crushed on the back left side.
It is a Dell Precision Workstation....not cheap.
I have contacted United about it and they want me to take it to Ontario, CA UA baggage department for inspection.

How will they handle this?...
Being an international flight you may get some minimal compensation but generally is best in this situation to remove the computer from the bag and take the computer onboard with you. Or have a bag that can be placed at your underseat storage area.

United recommends that you do not pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in your checked baggage. United will accept such items as carry-on baggage (subject to carry-on baggage allowances) or as checked baggage (subject to checked baggage allowances). If you choose to pack high-value, fragile or perishable items in or as checked baggage in connection with travel within the United States, United is not liable for the loss of, damage to or delay in delivery of such items. For most international travel, United's liability for destruction, loss, delay or damage to checked and unchecked baggage is limited.
....
Computer hardware/software and electronic components/equipment
.....


It is very doubtful, UA will take procession of the computer -- may take some photographs and some other detials.




WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 10:32 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,425
Originally Posted by WineCountryUA View Post
Being an international flight you may get some minimal compensation but generally is best in this situation to remove the computer from the bag and take the computer onboard with you.
This is key. On a purely domestic itinerary, UA's liability is zero -- they specifically exclude liability for damage to electronics in the Contract of Carriage, and DOT policy allows for exclusions documented in this way. However, for international travel, including domestic connecting travel, UA is not allowed to exclude liability in this way.

Per the Montreal Convention, UA's liability for baggage issues is capped at 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (the unit of account for the IMF). At current exchange rates, that's about $1,627. Any compensation above that amount is a matter of UA's goodwill.

As to how it will be handled -- that's up to you. I would take it in immediately to show them the damage and then determine what the best course of action is. If they want you to leave it with them, tell them that you need to remove sensitive data first and you can bring it back.

You should also follow up with your employer, especially if they actually own the device. They may want to follow up with United on their own.
pb9997 and paris1000 like this.
jsloan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 10:48 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Jan 2013
Programs: UA 1K | MR Platinum
Posts: 487
Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
This is key. On a purely domestic itinerary, UA's liability is zero -- they specifically exclude liability for damage to electronics in the Contract of Carriage, and DOT policy allows for exclusions documented in this way. However, for international travel, including domestic connecting travel, UA is not allowed to exclude liability in this way.

Per the Montreal Convention, UA's liability for baggage issues is capped at 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (the unit of account for the IMF). At current exchange rates, that's about $1,627. Any compensation above that amount is a matter of UA's goodwill.

As to how it will be handled -- that's up to you. I would take it in immediately to show them the damage and then determine what the best course of action is. If they want you to leave it with them, tell them that you need to remove sensitive data first and you can bring it back.

You should also follow up with your employer, especially if they actually own the device. They may want to follow up with United on their own.
This is actually what I would suggest first. I know that my employer would prefer to just handle the matter internally due to the sensitivity of data on a work machine. It also, of course, helps if your employer has a contract with UA and therefore an escalation path.
jsloan likes this.
mtftw is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 10:53 am
  #6  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Corona, CA
Programs: UA MM 1KP, AA GLD, SWA A-List, ICH Ambassador Spire Elite, HHonors DMD, Hertz Gold, National EC
Posts: 21
On small flights, I have a also had to check my computer bag at the gate and it gets "green tagged" and I pick it up on arrival at the gate, not the baggage pickup.
It is a padded computer bag, on rollers. It appears it was dropped during unloading or "tossed" into the plane at SFO due to the late arrival.

Last edited by NetNathan; Feb 19, 19 at 1:45 pm
NetNathan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:03 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Austin, TX
Posts: 7,425
Originally Posted by NetNathan View Post
On small flights, I have a also had to check my computer bag at the gate and it gets "green tagged" and I pick it up on arrival at the gate, not the baggage pickup.
In the future, you need a laptop bag that can fit underneath the seat in front of you, or you need to remove your laptop from the bag before allowing it to be checked. If this had been a purely domestic itinerary, UA's liability would have been zero.
AirMiles2001 and glennhaak like this.
jsloan is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:07 am
  #8  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 44,836
Originally Posted by NetNathan View Post
On small flights, I have a also had to check my computer bag at the gate and it gets "green tagged" and I pick it up on arrival at the gate, not the baggage pickup. ...
My computer never leaves my possession. will hand care if need be.
Originally Posted by NetNathan View Post
It is a padded computer bag, on rollers. ...
I have a similar McKlein and while it has some padding, there is none on the sides. No really intended to be checked. As others have mentioned, I am thiking of downsizing althought I rarely fly the smaller UX.
AirMiles2001 likes this.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:08 am
  #9  
 
Join Date: Nov 2017
Programs: United Gold, BA Exec Club, Via Rail
Posts: 2,364
Technically you are in the wrong here. It is against FAA and IATA regulations to pack any device containing a battery in the cargo hold due to the risk of there being an unconfined fire. If anything you should have removed the laptop from the bag and brought it on board with you. If the FA/GA gave you any pushback for doing so remind them that they would be in violation of Federal law by accepting a bag with such a battery (and no removing the battery cell from a laptop doesn't remove the risk since most laptops have an embedded battery for CMOS).

-James
Beano likes this.
j2simpso is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:20 am
  #10  
Moderator: United Airlines; FlyerTalk Evangelist
2019 FlyerTalk Awards
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: SFO
Programs: UA Gold 1.8MM, Hyatt Discoverist, Marriott Gold, Hilton Silver, IHG Gold
Posts: 44,836
Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
.... It is against FAA and IATA regulations to pack any device containing a battery in the cargo hold due to the risk of there being an unconfined fire. ....
That is factually incorrect per FAA Fact Sheet – Lithium Batteries
The restrictions only applies to LiION and not other batteries. And the restriction only applies to removable LiION batteries. I beleive there is also a max watt-hour rating.

Devices containing lithium metal or lithium ion batteries, including – but not limited to – smartphones, tablets, and laptops, should be kept in carry-on baggage. If these devices are packed in checked baggage, they should be turned completely off, protected from accidental activation and packed so they are protected from damage.
Some governments (China) have stricter requirements. Some airlines have additional limitations -- UA has a limitation on carry-on smart bags without a removable battery.
WineCountryUA is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:25 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Sep 2014
Posts: 1,085
Originally Posted by j2simpso View Post
Technically you are in the wrong here. It is against FAA and IATA regulations to pack any device containing a battery in the cargo hold due to the risk of there being an unconfined fire. If anything you should have removed the laptop from the bag and brought it on board with you. If the FA/GA gave you any pushback for doing so remind them that they would be in violation of Federal law by accepting a bag with such a battery (and no removing the battery cell from a laptop doesn't remove the risk since most laptops have an embedded battery for CMOS).

-James
This is not correct. The FAA recommends that devices containing lithium batteries, such as laptops, not be checked. However, only loose, un-installed spare batteries or damaged batteries are prohibited in checked baggage. IATA has more complicated advice/rules depending on size, etc. (which, for example, excludes small CMOS batteries).

FAA: https://www.faa.gov/news/fact_sheets...m?newsId=23054
IATA: https://www.iata.org/whatwedo/cargo/...um-battery.pdf

In short, it's not illegal to check a laptop. It's just a bad idea.
threeoh is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 11:36 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 8,945
I will never let a laptop be separated from myself. As a last resort, one can place it behind one's back for takeoff and landing if the airline insists on putting the bag in the hold and you have no alternative bag. If I know I'll be a bulkhead seat w/ no floor storage, I pack a minimal bag (actually a pouch) in my carry-on that I place items I will use at my seat into and put behind my back for takeoff and landing. Don't even have to bother with retrieving stuff from overhead.
IAH-OIL-TRASH is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 12:07 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: HNL
Programs: UA 1K3MM, MR LT Plat, Hilton Gold
Posts: 1,537
You might want to edit your photo so your name and address is not shown.....
jspira and birdiedouble like this.
HNLbasedFlyer is online now  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 12:10 pm
  #14  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Aug 2010
Location: DCA
Programs: UA US CO AA DL FL
Posts: 39,719
As to this incident, it is covered by the Montreal Convention and thus OP may collect the lesser of the cost of repair or the fair market value of the laptop up to approximately $1,650. FMV matters with a laptop because their value plummets as soon as you plug the thing in for the first time.

As a practical matter, it sounds as though this is an employer-owned machine. In that case, have your employer deal with it. Your employer may have coverage, choose to bear the risk, or pursue UA.

On the broader issue, if all other options failed, I would pull the laptop out of its case, wrap it in a jacket and stuff it into the OH. Chances are it's safer and going to be held in place. You can then gate check the empty case and not worry about whether it gets banged around.
drewguy likes this.
Often1 is offline  
Reply With Quote
Old Feb 19, 19, 12:12 pm
  #15  
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: South Carolina
Programs: UA LT Gold, American Kettle, Hertz #1 Presidents Circle, Marriott LT Platinum
Posts: 852
Originally Posted by IAH-OIL-TRASH View Post
I will never let a laptop be separated from myself. As a last resort, one can place it behind one's back for takeoff and landing if the airline insists on putting the bag in the hold and you have no alternative bag. If I know I'll be a bulkhead seat w/ no floor storage, I pack a minimal bag (actually a pouch) in my carry-on that I place items I will use at my seat into and put behind my back for takeoff and landing. Don't even have to bother with retrieving stuff from overhead.
Exactly, I would remove my laptop before I would let the bag be placed in the cargo hold. If I was in a bulkhead and could not place it under the seat in front of me, I would either do the behind the back trick or into the overhead. It would have to be a incredibly packed overhead where I could not find enough space to stick it. When I've been in a bulkhead, I've often taken it out of the bag and placed it in the overhead to make it faster to retrieve once allowed.
drowelf is offline  
Reply With Quote

Thread Tools
Search this Thread