Airline Loses Boston Bomber Survivor's Prosthetic Leg

  • Nov 21, 2015 4:40am GMT
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Dealing with lost luggage is never fun and it's never good for an airline's PR but losing a bag holding the prosthetic leg of someone who survived a national tragedy takes it to another level. American Airlines learned via a Tweet (see photo below) Thursday that Adrianne Haslet-Davis, Boston Marathon bombing survivor, was unhappy with how the situation was being handled.

"Hi @AmericanAir u lost my luggage w over $250k of leg & dance parts. I have an entire team on u. Pls respond, been days can't dance #retweet"

Her tweet inspired a number of her Twitter followers (she has over 4000) to also demand answers from American Airlines which did respond quickly. By Friday morning they confirmed they had identified her bag and were working on getting it to her.

"We’re sorry this happened," American Airlines spokesman Joshua Freed said in a statement. "Her bag has been located and we will reunite her with it as soon as possible." Haslet-Davis tweeted a reply saying that she was still disappointed they had not communicated that to her earlier and told her followers that her bag "went to a country I've never been to."

In an effort to improve the situation it seems the airline did some brainstorming with the dancer as she has since tweeted "2/2 working on something huge after a great brainstorming sesh w @AmericanAir Thank you for listening & seeing a great need for amputees! Xo."

Airlines have been improving how they handle luggage. Last year they were mishandling 21.8 million bags, or 6.96 per 1,000 passengers, according to SITA, an aviation communications and technology company that tracks baggage performance annually. However that's less than half the rate in 2007, when airlines world-wide mishandled 46.9 million bags, or 18.88 per 1,000 passengers. It was costing the airline industry $4 billion a year. When airlines started charging fees for baggage, customer expectations have risen. They have been steadily improving since using new technologies.

IATA is working on a future fix that will use electronic tags loaded with passenger itineraries. The new initiative should reduce the mishandled rate by half will work with electronic tags that have both traditional bar codes on paper and programmable RFID chips. The tags could be programmed by passengers using their Bluetooth-enabled smartphones, loading their itinerary themselves, and then just dropping the bag when they get to the airport.