American Airlines Breaks Bikes
It all started on July 2nd, 2009, when our friend Richard Martin boarded a flight to Europe at JFK Airport in New York. While preparing for his journey with a friend to tour the continent on two wheels, Richard had very carefully and lovingly packed his custom bicycle in a “bike box” to the specifications listed on American’s website and those issued by his bike manufacturer.
All that careful planning and packing came to a screeching halt when Richard looked out the window of his plane to see his bike lying on the JFK tarmac with the box and plastic in shreds and one of his bike’s wheels hanging out.
He notified a flight attendant, who summoned the baggage crew chief, John, who swore on his years of experience that his bike looked rough but promised nothing was broken. Richard took John at his word and relaxed for his flight.
When he finally arrived in Geneva, Richard discovered John had lied. The box containing his bike appeared to have been run over by a luggage tug or some other vehicle, and the bike was destroyed beyond repair. In order to complete his planned vacation, Richard had to buy a new bike.
When he got home, Richard spent months getting the runaround from American Airlines, Brussels Airlines (who Richard flew a connecting flight on) and a firm called HuntleighUSA which handles AA’s baggage claims. Letters to everyone up to the Gerard Arpey, the CEO of American’s parent company AMR, got nowhere.
After nearly a year without progress, Richard has taken his fight to the Internet. He made a video about his experience titled simply, “American Airlines Breaks Bikes” (watch it below) and started a Facebook fan page with the same name.
So what’s the deal, American Airlines? Even though Richard did everything right, and your baggage folks clearly ran over his bike with a truck, why are aren’t you willing to compensate him for his bike?
He’s even enlisted the support of Dave Carroll, the “United Breaks Guitars” guy.
Receipt for Richard’s replacement bike: