Losing your bags while flying is one of the worst-case scenarios for a family vacation. When you're also having trouble getting the claim processed by the airline, it can be even worse. That's where NBC 7 Responds stepped in to help.
"They're saying we're not reimbursing you anything because you put in something incorrectly," said Cristal Outman. "It felt horrible!"
Outman's family was flying to Colorado last year to visit a Dude Ranch to celebrate their 14th wedding anniversary and her mother's birthday. When they landed in Denver, they noticed their bags were missing.
"There was supposed to be four pieces of luggage but there were only two," said Outman. "Southwest noticed that our bags had been scanned off the airplane, but they weren't on the carousel."
Those bags had a lot more than just clothing for the week. They also contained some expensive workout gear that belonged to her triathlete husband. The family kept looking for answers after buying some new clothes to complete the trip.
"My husband called the airport security and asked if they had surveillance footage," Outman said. "We pop it in the computer and there you can see this man remove our luggage from the carousel."
Then Outman started working on the claim for more than $5,000 with Southwest. She spent hours gathering all of the information.
"You have to write down every single item that was in your luggage," Outman said. "Then you have to try and look for every receipt you have."
She submitted the claim, but said she was told there was a discrepancy and the claim was invalid.
"I kept thinking, 'What discrepancy? What did I put in incorrectly that they are referring to?'" asked Outman. "They said because of that they didn't see the claim as valid. I asked if they could indicate what the discrepancy was and she said they were not able to."
During this back-and-forth, Denver police contacted the family saying they had caught the man suspected of stealing their bags.
"People were asking me 'You must be so upset at this thief!' and I'm like 'I think I'm more upset at the airline,'" Outman said.
Even though Outman says she wasn't told what the discrepancy was, she figured out she had submitted the wrong receipt. They had returned one of her husband's triathlon suits, and she submitted that receipt instead of the one they kept.
Outman said she felt like Southwest was treating her like a thief.
"The fact that you put in one thing that was incorrect, they threw out the whole claim," Outman said.
NBC 7 Responds reached out to Southwest. They said they would review the claim and the new receipt that was submitted by Outman. They also said "a substantial amount of items" on previously submitted receipts had been returned.
"The Southwest team prides itself on the hospitality we offer and our willingness to look at issues on a case-by-case basis to assist our Customers. ... We are always happy to review again with the Customer through our Customer Service team. We apologize if the Customer may feel we are not responding to immediate requests, but we are following our established review processes. We will update the Customer directly."
Last week Outman contacted us saying she heard back from Southwest and was being reimbursed for more than $3,700.
"I wanted to say thank you so much to NBC 7," Outman said. "I do not believe that our claim would have been approved had it not been for your guys' involvement in investigating what actually went down."