Below is the letter originally sent to United, who are saying that by "global agreement", this needs to be directed to you, and ultimately compensated by you:
November 20, 2019
To: Customer Service at United or Latam, or whoever is in charge of travel problems
Re: Complaint regarding Passenger Alexander Uhls
I am writing this to you regarding a serious problem with United and eventually Latam airlines specifically related to luggage. I had limited ability to communicate once in Bolivia, so my parents dealt with the problem from the US - but I now have all the details. This complaint not only involves the almost 4 day delay in retrieving the luggage, but the terrible experience in working through the problem with United and Latam personnel and the consequences that arose directly and indirectly because of it.
Flight Info: Alexander Uhls: 11/1/19 - UA 121 Denver to Houston; UA 854 Houston to Lima; LA 2400 Lima to La Paz Booked through United (confirmation: LPBLA19453). Luggage tag #UA [protected].
Latam info: Reference #LPBLA19453 new tag number: #[protected]
(another reference # [protected])
Day 1 : Luggage did not arrive with my flight. I reported missing in La Paz. Later learned that the luggage had been left behind in Houston, despite being checked through in Denver. 24 hours later, no luggage and find out it is still in Houston. No one at United has any idea: spoke to several personnel located in India, who simply look at computer and gave wrong information until I would push further. United person (Cortek) claimed it was Latam's responsibility, even though in Houston. Eventually they reported that luggage was going on next flight to Lima, that night at around midnight. Never happened.
Day 2 : Called and called this day, and assured by United it would get on flight to Lima this second day, flight 854. Said it was being treated as "priority" and being expedited by luggage people. Not to worry, plenty of time to get on plane. Called at end of day, and still in Houston. Spoke to "Gurbreet" after numerous calls to people who had no idea. Missed first flight out.
Day 3: Luggage gets to Lima but speak to Latam (Raphael) who says United, who report having the luggage, didn't release it to them to fly out. Everyone is blaming other people. At 10 AM they email United to do so immediately so they can send it on. Latam never hears back despite several attempts. Next flight to La Paz leaves without his luggage. Conversation with Andres Chanci, from Latam (baggage?) who says he is personally trying to get someone to obtain luggage. I call United and speak to "Kokab" who promises to look into it and call back, but of course never does. According to Latam (Andres and later Daniel Garcia in luggage), United doesn't respond to their "SOS" as they called it.
Day 4: Speak to United person named "Fariful", who blames mistake on Latam airlines. Find out luggage gets to La Paz at about 2 AM. Latham notifies me that it will be delivered in morning, but by afternoon, it hasn't arrived I make a trip to the airport, but unsuccessful in getting luggage. Luggage finally gets delivered at 5:30 PM - almost 4 full days after arrival.
The reason I am asking for compensation, which United admits is appropriate from you:
1. Because I didn't have my luggage, with all my gear, I was unable to take the guided trip/trek I was to make in Bolivia - the whole reason I traveled there. I was stuck in a town waiting for my luggage and had to cancel. Once the luggage arrived 4 days later, it was too late.
2. The country of Bolivia came under civil unrest and the day after I arrived, the US State Department declared it a Level 2 State of Emergency. As a result of the rioting, shops were closed, streets were barricaded, and it was very difficult and probably dangerous to purchase items to exist on until the luggage came. MORE serious was I could not get out of the city, which the State Department was recommending, because I did not have my luggage. This shows how negligence can lead to very serious consequences. With one day delay, I might have saved the trip - but 4 days ruined the whole itinerary. I believe that the State of Emergency was later raised to a level 3 or 4 while Inwas waiting there. Ironically, the delay in luggage had nothing to do with the unrest problem - that just made it harder for me to be without luggage.
3. The costs as a direct result of this were outstanding. Not only this flight to Bolivia being a waste, but because I couldn't make the planned hiking trek, I had to fly from La Paz, to Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to Belo Horizonte, Brazil to Rio de Janeiro to get home! I also had to take many very expensive and unnecessary taxis to get to the airports. Because of the rioting, ground travel was impossible and the Embassy was urging Americans to get to airports and get out. All more difficult because I did not have my luggage!
What am I expecting by writing to you? I believe it is fair to expect either a refund for my flight, or a full credit on an airline ticket. Because it is unlikely that I can fly with Latam any time soon, United said that you have the ability to make this happen on United or another American-based airline.. It was not only was a failed trip due to what happened, but it used up all the vacation time I had with my job - something more valuable than even the money. The confusion by personnel with United and Latam aggravated an already bad situation.
I know this is very lengthly, but we kept a log and thought it was important to tell you details. The information online says that I will hear shortly from you, and gave advice where to go if I do not. But I don't want to make this any more negative than it already is. I hope you respond soon and do the right thing. I am glad to furnish any necessary corroborating information on all of the above, but I am sure you can easily research this too.
Thank you for your attention to this.