Print Friendly and PDF
Wells Fargo to pay a record $3.7 million for illegal activities including unjust vehicle repossession and mortgage foreclosures
Take a look at my newsletter for last-minute holiday money tips

Travel tip: Don’t put your laptop in your checked luggage

Southwest Airlines AirplaneOn a recent trip, I learned a valuable lesson. Most airlines won’t reimburse you for electronics if they’re in a checked bag that gets lost.

How did I find that out?

When I arrived at the Southwest ticket counter at SeaTac Airport, I had three items – my purse, a bag of Christmas presents, and a small carry-on bag with my computer in it – plus a bag I was going to check.

Since I hadn’t traveled for a while, I was fuzzy on the procedures. I also was out of breath after wearing my N95 mask and dragging my heavy suitcase and other items across the sky bridge from the parking garage.

The Southwest ticket agent seemed irritated with me and was rude. She explained I could only take two items on the plane so I’d either need to consolidate my three items or check my carryon. Southwest allows you to have two bags for no cost, she said, so there would be no charge for my carryon.

Since my Christmas gifts were delicate, I was worried consolidation would damage them, so decided to check my carryon with my laptop in it.

Since I couldn’t remember how to tear apart the baggage tickets I had printed out, I handed them to the ticket agent. After she put my big suitcase on the belt, she grabbed my carryon and threw it on the belt. I said, “My computer’s in there.” She didn’t say anything, and she didn’t give my baggage receipts.

When I arrived in Sacramento, neither of bags were on the conveyor belt. At the Southwest lost bag area, my daughter and I found my big suitcase. However, my carryon was delayed or lost.

I got nervous when the baggage agent said she couldn’t find a second bag for me in her computer system.

We had the choice of having the bag delivered or getting a $100 coupon for another flight. The baggage agent said we’d get a call the next morning about how to get the bag. She said since there was a computer in it, TSA may have held the bag for inspection. You aren’t supposed to put a computer in checked luggage.

I was upset that the ticket agent hadn’t told me that.

After no call was received about my bag the next morning, I called Southwest. My anxiety level went up even higher when the customer service representative said Southwest and other airlines don’t reimburse customers for electronics in lost bags.

She did say the bag was at the airport. I was amazed that it was found and had arrived.

I asked the customer service representative who I should complain to about the ticket agent who didn’t tell me that laptops shouldn’t be put in checked luggage. She said to ask for the supervisor at the airport lost bags department.

The supervisor listened to my complaint, but he also said I should file an online complaint. He said it would go directly to the ticket agent’s section. He apologized for all the trouble that we’d had.

So, beware. Don’t let this happen to you. It’s hard to believe that after all the consumer research that I do, I didn’t know about this.


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Deane Rimerman

Hi Rita, I think them saying they don't reimburse for electronics is false. The DOT web page for airlines losing luggage makes no mention of a liability exclusion for electronics: But it does mention those specific details can be found in the "airlines' contracts of carriage."

Also: "For domestic flights, the maximum liability amount is $3,800, according to DOT regulations"

So I think had you not got your new laptop back you'd eventually get a refund from them and the person you talked to didn't understand the laws that protect you. There's so many professionals that fly every day with all their electronic equipment for their work that to deny a reimbursement would not go well for them.

I bet if you edit your article to mention the airline by name and their language in "contract of carriage" then send a link to the article to the higher ups in customer service at the corporate office you'll probably get clarification/an apology.


Thanks. I'll look into it.

Rebecca Forstadt Olkowski

So sorry that happened to you. I always carry my laptop with me on the plane. I carry a bag that is large enough to stuff my purse into and put the laptop in it.

Rita Robison

Yes, it was quite an experience that I won't repeat. Your method sounds good.

Corinne Rodrigues

In India, we are not allowed to put our laptop and other electronic devices in our checked in luggage and I did wonder why. Makes so much sense!

Carol Ann Cassara

What a hard lesson to learn.

Rita Robison

Yes, it was a hard lesson. I'm glad just the bag was just delayed and not lost. I just bought a new Apple desktop computer. Another $2,000 for an Apple laptop would have been a stretch for the budget.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name and email address are required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)