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Professional surfer Alex Gray flew into Los Angeles from Hawaii, over the weekend, and like most professional surfers, he brought a few boards along with him. Unfortunately, of the five surfboards he brought, only one made it through the American Airlines flight without being completely destroyed.
One of the five boards was broken in half, right down the middle, while the others had tips broken and severe fin damage. To make matters worse, Gray has not been compensated by American Airlines for the damage to the boards. However, Gray is surely making waves as his social media posts about the broken boards has garnered the attention of surfers worldwide, as well as the traditional media.
A fact that has come to light as a result of Gray's board disaster is that he is not alone. While there have been a few other rather public incidents involving famous surfers having their boards damaged by airlines, Gray's social media post has been commented upon by countless other surfers whose boards have suffered similar fates at the hands of airline baggage handlers, or others responsible for handling luggage.
According to American Airlines' policy on liability for damages to sports equipment, the airline requires that the equipment either be in a hard case, or have visible damage to the outside of a soft case. Regardless of an airlines' policy, a traveler may still have a claim for property damages against an airline for destroyed, and lost, items. However, as Gray admits to doing, many airlines require travelers with specialized luggage to sign damage liability waivers either fully disclaiming, or severely limiting, the airlines liability for damaging the luggage or contents.
Generally, when an airline damages a person's luggage, a claim can be filed directly with the airline. If the damage is obvious, then frequently the airline will pay the claim. However, airlines will often assert that they are only liable up to a certain dollar amount, such as $500. This limit may or may not be valid, depending on the specific facts.
If you are unable to resolve a claim for damaged luggage with an airline directly, you may want to seek out a consultation with an experienced attorney to assist you, or potentially help you file a small claims action.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.