KPRC 2 Investigates: Stroller ruined during flight. Why isn’t the airline responsible?

What to do if your checked item is damaged

Checking baby items like strollers and car seats is free when you fly any airline. But it ended up costing one family a lot of money.

HOUSTON – Traveling, especially flying with small children, is a challenge. Depending on where you’re headed, you usually need to lug a lot of gear. But after you see what happened to one Fulshear family, you may change the way you pack.

Checking baby items at the airport

Checking baby items like strollers and car seats is free when you fly any airline. But it ended up costing one family a lot of money. This is something many of you traveling with kids might not know.

The Uppababy is the Cadillac of strollers. It’s actually a whole “travel system” that can include a car seat, bassinet and toddler seat. That can add up to $2,000. That’s an expensive, but worthwhile investment for Victoria Hauhe’s family, who travels often with their toddler and infant.

“We took our full-sized stroller because she’s not big enough for the travel stroller,” said Hauhe.

But on the latest trip to California, Hauhe was in for a surprise when she got the stroller bag back from baggage claim. The main frame was snapped in half.

Airlines damages woman's stroller. Why are they not responsible? (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

”This is the frame, so when we took it out, if you could see that this had just come apart,” said Hauhe, “I was kind of mouth open like, ‘What do we do now?’ you know. I wanted to give United a chance.”

She filed a claim with United Airlines. She said two different United reps told her they would either repair or replace the stroller. But that’s not what happened.

“They offered a $100 travel voucher,” said Hauhe. " Just don’t think it’s right.”

What does United Airlines say about damaged strollers?

United Airlines sent us the carriage of contract that said they are not liable for damage to strollers when carried as checked baggage. The agreement also said by purchasing a ticket, the passenger agrees to these terms. They also sent us this statement:

“Items other than baggage (such as strollers) must also be assessed in-person at the airport if the passenger wishes to pursue any type of compensation (reimbursement, miles, flight credit, etc.). However, bringing the item to the airport for assessment does not guarantee compensation and is evaluated on a case-by-case basis.”

In the Hauhe’s case, they did bring the stroller back up to the airport for United to inspect the damage.

Hauhe said something needs to change.

“I’d actually like to see them change their contract of carriage to cover damage to strollers up to a certain amount,” she said.

“If you’re going to make your motto ‘Fly the friendly skies,’ I think we just need to hold the gate agents and everyone that luggage handlers to a little bit of a higher standard with that kind of an airline.”

What if the airline damages my luggage?

If you discover damaged items after a flight, you should head to talk to an airline representative as soon as possible. They want to see the damage first-hand.

Each airline has a policy about what to do if your luggage is damaged during a flight.

Each airline has a slightly different policy about what to do if your luggage is damaged during the flight. For Southwest and Frontier Airlines, they want you to report the damage within four hours. JetBlue has a similar policy. Here is more on the United policy. United wants you to report damaged luggage within 24 hours.

A few tips: Don’t rip off the baggage tags. Also, make sure you get a claim number and write down the name of the person who is helping you.

What the government says about damaged items on airlines

The government does say that airlines are responsible for damaged baggage. But, the fine print on the Department of Transportation page said the airline can exclude certain items-- like strollers.

About the Authors:

Passionate consumer advocate, mom of 3, addicted to coffee, hairspray and pastries.

Award-winning TV producer and content creator. My goal as a journalist is to help people. Faith and family motivate me. Running keeps me sane.