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Archive 2009 · U.S. Airways is FAIL
  
 
Sam Hassas
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p.1 #1 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


*******Cross post from the wedding forum*****

U.S. Airways sucks so freaking bad. I HATE them. I HATE THEM!

I had a commercial gig in Mississippi the last few days. Flew there Wednesday, shot it without a hitch and got on the plane this morning from Memphis to Arizona to San Jose. The plane from Memphis to Arizona was small. Sat like 50-75. About 30 passanges had to have their carry-on bags placed in the plane cargo because the overhead bins on these smaller planes don't accomidate standard carry-on. (The over head bins barely fit a womens large purse). I tried to convince them I could place the bag inder my seat in front of me. (I've done this MANY times). I informed them of what was in the bags and wanted to try and use the under the seat metheod. The let me. It DIDN'T fit. I asked if we could place the bags in the flight attendants cubby. "this plane doesn't have one sir". I was nervous but what could I do. I gave them my bag.

Inside the camera bag, (Lowepro rolling bag) contained the following:

2 - 5dmk2 both gripped ($6,000)
85L - $1,500
50L - $1,300
16-35L $1,250
24L - $1,200
70-200L $1,450
45 T/S - $1,300
15 fish $600
100 macro $400

4 - 580ex2 - $1,400
5 - pocket wizards. $450
miscellaneous crap $1,000

Total: $17,850

I pulled my Macbook pro out and handed the baggage man at the mouth of the plane my bag.
2 hours later and in Arizona I am handed back my bag along with the other 20 or so passengers. I roll it out of the long passage way and into the terminal to catch the connecting flight. I have 15 minutes. I open the outside zipper area to place my laptop bag in and see that the bag is FREAKING SOAKED. DRENCHED. Nervously and in slow motion I open the zipper to the main compartment of my camera bag and there water all throughout my bag. EVERYUWHERE. Dead serious. A good 3 cups worth. My stomach is in knots. For a second I about ot puked. My head spins, I get light headed and then my wooziness is replaced with anger. I'm pissed. I immediately go to the lady at the gate from where I just exited. I tell her my story and she looks into my bag in shock. She is extremely apologetic but can do nothing. She leads me to where I need to go, U.S. Airways customer service.

Melissa

I am greeted there by a women/behemoth/monster/creature/prawn/leviathan thing-person named Melissa. I am convinced of two things. One, Melissa is a man-hater. Two, Melissa also hates photographers. I unfortunately am a card carrying member of both of these groups. Melissa, you represent the worst of what humanity is. Your complete lack of sympathy for a passenger who fears losing $18,000 of gear that is his livelyhood is just........
You make me sick. You will die alone.

From the word go Melissa is the Devil incarnite. Snide. Rude. Matter-of-fact. Just an awful person to deal with in such a certfomstance. Made a DVM employee look like a saint. Melissa dosn't see any water on the exterior of my black camera bag. Melissa is convinced I must have left a water bottle in my camera bag and THAT'S where the water came from. I tell Melissa that YES, where normally I ALWAYS require my camera gear to be stowed with my Super Big Gulp, I decided that that day I wouldn't risk it. She rolls her eys and tells me there is nothing they, (Arizona) can do because they are not my final destination. She then tells me that I need to see customer service in San Jose after my flight. I tell her I fear the water will evaporate by then and the gear will not appear wet and I would be dismissed and if the gear is broken it's my word againsnt their. I SEE LONG LONG STREAMS OF RED TAPE IN MY FUTURE. I ask her to at least document what she sees and put it in the record that my equpminet is soaked. She does. I then ask her to print me a copy of what she just wrote. She hesitates and then says "fine!"


"items are not sitting in water. it more appears that moisture has accumulated on the items"

WTF!?

I read this out load for her and the other 2 women at customer service, (whom were MUCH more symathetic in a later interaction then Beowolf here) and when I've finished I lost it. I asked her when does $12 an hr. constitute her being lawyer for U.S. Airways. Are you seriously proud of what your doing? I tell her to have a nice day and storm off.

I then go back to the original gal I talked to that sent me to CS. Let her know what happened, she is sympathetic and writes down her name and employee ID on the statement made by the parasite. Light bulb goes off and I realize I should get the creatures ID as well. I go back and she's not there. Lady at the desk knew what I needed and said heffalump went on her lunch break feasting on babies. I tell her all I want is her employee ID. She goes into the back, I hear streaming and the note comers back with her ID number on the paper. The last number was a 1 and when it was written she tore through the paper.

One day Melissa......one day

I go to the bathroom and stuff my bag with a brick of paper towels. I make a made mad dash to my terminal and am the last one to board. Longest 2 hours of my life....


Parvez

In San Jose, I go directly to U.S. Airways CS. Here we go again. I am convinced Melissa somehow has teleported from Arizona to San Jose and then taken over the body of a middle aged Indian Man named Parvez. Parvez heard my story and before I could finish he starts his back pedal about how it's impossible this was the fault of U.S. Airways. I must have had a water bottle in my bag and have now removed it to avoid fault. Oh god. I could barely understand him. Not trying to be mean it's just the truth. HOW U.S. Airways thought it a good idea to allow a man with an accent THIS bad, be head of the customer service department at an international airport is beyond me. He is literally accusing me of lying. We have a shout match. He treathens me with the police. I laugh, told him I didn't even steal his slurpee, (relax, I'm middle eastern a swell I can say that). He was completely green. Didn't know anything about their protocol and I am left feeling completely alone. Losing hope.

At this point I started to haze out and drift away thinking about how bad my gear was damaged. Parvez kept talking and all I was hearing was the adults in the Peanuts cartoon. I was going ot lose. There it was, I WILL LOSE. I was given an email address to contact and was told someone would look over my case and get back to me. He also noted that damaged electronics are not their responsibility. HOW. FREAKING. LAME.

After checking all my gear this evening most of it is fine. I hear squeaking in two lenses, the 50L and the 16-35L. The PW's are okay and the 4 speedlights, (580ex2's) minus one are working as they were.
My 100 macro, (1 of 3 non "L" lenses) is no good. There is heavy fogging inside the lense. I know of the sicilia packet trick amoung others but won't be relying on it. It will be sent to Canon for repair. Mildue will show up very soon. THANK GOD FOR "L" GLASS. They are all hermetically sealed and would be TOAST otherwise. The macro was furthest from the water damage and was affected the most. "L" saved the day. I am convinced more then ever.
My bag has wrinkled and shunk even. Am I insured? Of course I am. The hassle is just massive however. Plus there is a deductible. U.S. Airways is at fault and I'm going to have to pay for it. **shakes head**

What happened?

During the flight to Arizona from Memphis is was unbelievably cold. So cold that passengers were asking for blankets. They only had about 30 for the 50-75 passengers on board. I'd guess the entire duration of the flight resulted in 55-60 degree cabin temperature. Everyone was talking about it. I've never been this cold on a flight before. At one point the captain came on the intercom and talked about what was going on. Malfunctions of some kind and that things would not change. About an hour into the flight there also appeared a mist along the floor of the plane from end to end.So strange. Like a morning fog. I've NEVER seen anything like it. Everyone was freaked out. It had a strange oder as well. Like a cleaning solvent. It stayed for about 10 minutes and the flight attendant didn't know exactly what it was but was assured by the pilot things were okay. I have no proof, evidence whatsoever of THIS being the cause of my wet gear but have a strong feeling it was indeed the culpirt. Sweaty refigerant lines, heavy condensation, a water leak, I dunno. SOMETHING happened. Will I ever be told the truth? No. I about guarantee however that there are others that walked away with wet bags. Probably none that felt they needed to see CS though. Wet clothes and wet camera gear are very different.

One thing is for sure. I will NEVER fly U.S. Airways again. Seat are always cramp. No media of any kind. Just a seat and a belt. So bad. What can I say? Never again.

I'm tired.

~Sam




Oct 31, 2009 at 09:53 AM
jdben622
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p.1 #2 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


...feasting on babies?

U.S. Airways







Oct 31, 2009 at 10:06 AM
Roland W
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p.1 #3 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


It is not always easy, but try to plan on a bigger plane for all connections, no matter which airline, so there is more room for standard size carry ons . And the standard clause in most (all?) fine print is that no electronics and no photographic gear is covered for damage or loss. You either take the risk on your own, or have alternate insurance that covers your gear.


Oct 31, 2009 at 11:57 AM
Still Bill
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p.1 #4 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


1) Think Tank Airport Antidote: http://www.thinktankphoto.com/products/airport-antidote-backpack.aspx

2) Domke F-1X http://www.tiffen.com/displayproduct.html?tablename=domke&itemnum=700-10S

Either one fits into the overhead of the smaller 'regional jets' (e.g. Embraer, Canadair/CRJ) or turboprops (e.g. Saab). I've got a LOT of air miles on the Domke F-1X, and never had a problem with the short overhead bins of smaller planes.

I put things like filters and tripod in checked baggage. My cameras and lenses ride with me, or I don't fly. I make that need clear when I buy the tickets. I also check the itinerary for the type of aircraft that will fly the route before purchasing the tickets. If the airline balks or hiccups, I change airlines.

Something else that works is to ship the non-camera/non-lens items FedEx or UPS to the destination and back (like to your hotel, etc.). No hassles with airport security or the airline that way. It's getting more economical to do, with the baggage charges we're seeing these days. I make sure to leave the batteries out of pocket wizards, etc. when shipping them.





Oct 31, 2009 at 01:33 PM
dfresh
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p.1 #5 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


Sounds like an absolute nightmare. I'm not defending US Airways, but isn't there the possibility that someone else had a bag with a water bottle that got crushed and spilled onto yours? It would be the lone case where I can imagine the airline wouldn't be completely at fault (as opposed to a leaky luggage hold).


Oct 31, 2009 at 01:42 PM
ButterflySis
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p.1 #6 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I rarely comment on these forums, but man, I feel for you. Try writing a letter to the airlines. It's likely that it won't make a difference, but you never know.

I think your avatar sums it up nicely. And, despite all the terrible things that happened to you, your post was hilariously written.



Oct 31, 2009 at 02:16 PM
monoprint
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p.1 #7 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


While you're at it, consider making a video like this guy did, after United broke his guitar.


Oct 31, 2009 at 02:45 PM
williamkazak
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p.1 #8 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I feel for you.Get over the resentment, learn your lessons, pay the piper, accept the blows and patiently endure. Otherwise, they got you.


Oct 31, 2009 at 04:30 PM
Peter Misfeldt
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p.1 #9 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


Man, that sucks!


Oct 31, 2009 at 08:20 PM
kylegehmlich
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p.1 #10 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


What about threatening them with legal action in small claims court? My guess would be that most large companies like United would be more likely to pay you the deductible (at least) instead of go through the hassle of legal procedings.

Seriously though, that really blows dude.



Oct 31, 2009 at 09:14 PM
 

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bwolf
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p.1 #11 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I had a problem with US Airways and I got a result by the following method.
I wrote the CEO of US Airways and explained what had happened to me while
flying his airline. The letter was respectful but ended with the fact that when flying
I have choices if you want me to continue to fly on your airlines treat me better and
solve my problem. I also let him know that I am a professional photographer and that
I am well know in the photographic community and that I would share my experience
with other working pro's who fly his airlines. It took 4 weeks but it worked..

Best of luck,
Barry



Oct 31, 2009 at 09:29 PM
monochrome
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p.1 #12 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


Sorry to hear. The more I hear about these incidents, the more I think if I was to be in that situation, I'd get off the plane and wait for another. On the other hand if you weren't to get any of your equipment replaced, you could always become a writer. Your description of Melissa and Parvez were great reading.


Nov 01, 2009 at 03:35 AM
Josh S
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p.1 #13 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I'm so sorry man!

I was at the Winnipeg Folk Festival this summer, and Loudon Wainwright had just written and performed a song about one of his guitars getting destroyed by United Airlines... The song is then about his dealing with customer service... He seems to have had a similar experience to yours!

Anyways, if you're interested in listening to a harsh, but sort of comical and maybe soothing song, check this out --> (warning, there is the odd swear word) --> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gohKsPgEpHA




I just remembered about this musician from Halifax, Dave Carroll. He also had his guitar smashed and received the run around by the airlines. Anyways, he decided to write a song about it all and has made a pretty big splash with it... This particular YouTube video has around 6,000,000 views and has had play on most major news networks in the US and Canada... It's more lighthearted and pretty funny if you ask me.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5YGc4zOqozo&NR=1&feature=fvwp



Nov 01, 2009 at 03:52 AM
pjbishop
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p.1 #14 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I wonder if your own insurance company would be subrogated to your right of collecting from the airline after it pays you and will actually go after them. Depends, I suppose, on the quality of proof and whether it's worth it to them to put the time and effort into pursuing reimbursement. There ought to be a website to collect records of bad experiences with the airlines, so that a telling volume of such incidents could be amassed in one place. Would need to monitored to strain out trivial, incoherent and needlessly obscene contributions.


Nov 01, 2009 at 01:06 PM
greeneggs
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p.1 #15 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I think any airline would be the same, after the bag got wet. They aren't going to write you a check when they aren't liable for the damage, and they aren't. Hindsight is 20/20, but smarter flying would have avoided this. Hopefully, somebody else learns from your near disaster.


Nov 02, 2009 at 04:53 AM
hoghead
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p.1 #16 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


That really sucks. I hope it all works out for you. I had to fly from St.Louis to Tucson 6 times this year when my dad was sick. I did not have to check any bags. It amazes me when I see those guys chucking the bags around and it is just ok to do it. It sucks to fly anymore.


Nov 02, 2009 at 07:07 AM
Scott Sewell
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p.1 #17 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


I agree, US Scare is the worst and I try to avoid them at all costs. And your situation is unfortunate. But I tend to think it could have been avoided.

I have said many times on this forum (and most people seem to just fluff it off), if you are flying you had better always be prepared to put your gear under the plane. Always. Doesn't matter if you've "done this MANY times" or not...if you are not prepared or have a back-up plan to put your gear under the plane bad things can (and likely will) happen.

I will tell this story again...a flight attendant told me I could not carry my roller onto a regional jet. This wasn't the baggage handlers or the gate people...it was a flight attendant who kept me from boarding with the roller.

This bag does--and has many times before--fit underneath the seat. I tried to explain that to the flight attendant. Didn't matter. The guy had a major attitude and said I either check the bag or I don't get on the flight. I was going to a photo shoot, so I really didn't have much choice. Ironically, I got onto the plane and the lady sitting next to me had a bag larger than mine stuffed under the seat in front of us. Go figure.

One thing I did, however, (and would suggest the OP do next time), is I took the body and a 70-200 out of the bag and carried them onto the aircraft over my shoulder. I was going to a shoot and knew at the very least if I had that body/lens combo I could get by with the gig. In this situation, I would have pulled out each body, put a lens on each, then carried them on the plane with me.

Better yet, next time be prepared for--and expect--the worst when flying with camera gear. Oh, and as much as I hate U.S. Scare, I wouldn't expect this to be an isolated problem. It can--and likely will--happen on most other airlines (with maybe the exception of SW).



Nov 02, 2009 at 04:13 PM
John--G
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p.1 #18 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


Sam Hassas wrote:
THANK GOD FOR "L" GLASS. They are all hermetically sealed and would be TOAST otherwise.


I was not aware that "L" lenses (or any lenses for that matter) were hermetically sealed? Weather seals yes on some, but hermetically sealed?




Nov 02, 2009 at 06:59 PM
Scott Sewell
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p.1 #19 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


John--G wrote:
I was not aware that "L" lenses (or any lenses for that matter) were hermetically sealed? Weather seals yes on some, but hermetically sealed?




Ya know, I missed that when reading the post the first time. 'Hermetically sealed' is too funny. Can't say I've ever known Canon to ever use that phrase. What the heck is 'hermetically sealed' anyway?!?!



Nov 02, 2009 at 07:10 PM
John--G
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p.1 #20 · U.S. Airways is FAIL


Scott Sewell wrote:
Ya know, I missed that when reading the post the first time. 'Hermetically sealed' is too funny. Can't say I've ever known Canon to ever use that phrase. What the heck is 'hermetically sealed' anyway?!?!


From Wiki: A hermetic seal is a seal which, for practical purposes, is considered airtight. The term is often used to describe electronic parts that are designed and intended to secure against the entry of microorganisms and other foreign bodies in order to maintain the proper functioning and reliability of their contents.






Nov 02, 2009 at 07:20 PM
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