Ask Airfare Watchdog: Valuables Stolen From Luggage

Q: I took a trip from Amarillo to Cancun. The flights were all delayed due to weather. I arrived in Cancun and my bag arrived on the following flight. Somewhere from the time I arrived and when my bag was delivered my jewelry was stolen out of my bag. I had booked the flight through Expedia. I filed a claim with Expedia and have never heard anything. I had about $3,500 in jewelry stolen from my bag. What recourse do I have?

A: Never, ever put valuables in your checked luggage! Expedia is not responsible for your loss. If anyone is, it's your airline, but all airlines specifically say they do not cover the loss of valuables such as jewelry. Your only recourse is your homeowner's insurance at this point, but beware they might increase your premium or refuse to renew your policy if you file a claim. Always carry valuables in your carry-on luggage. In addition to homeowners insurance, premium charge cards such as the American Express Platinum Card offer coverage for losses from both carry-on and checked luggage, and if you had bought travel insurance from a company such as TravelGuard, you might have been covered.

Q: When I bought our tickets last month on Continental to Bristol, England, I chose the lowest available fare. Today, I checked the fares again and the roundtrip fare for my dates is around $55 lower than my original booking. I called Continental to complain but I was told I would lose more because I will have to cancel my tickets and they would re-issue me another ticket for a $250 fee.

I did not know that it's not necessarily true that fares can go down as you search closer to the date of your departure. What do you say?

A: It's impossible to generalize that fares go up or down closer to one's departure date. The sad fact is that if a fare goes down after you buy it, most airlines deduct a $150 ticket reissue fee on domestic fares from any amount they might refund, in the form of a voucher for future travel, and $250 and up on international fares. Some international airlines do not refund anything in the case of a fare drop. The only airlines that do not deduct a fee from a price drop refund are Southwest, Alaska and JetBlue.