Save those documents

This item appears on page 16 of the February 2011 issue.

Upon returning from a September-October 2010 trip to Ethiopia, I had two occasions to use the papers that I had squirreled away relating to the trip.

When I landed at the airport in Addis Ababa after a Lufthansa flight, I realized that my almost-new suitcase with the four rotating wheels (which I had purchased after hunting all over town) was badly damaged. The zipper was broken, there was a dent in the frame and the material was torn.

Even though I was tired, I persisted in the lengthy process of filing a written complaint at the airport. I made sure I got a copy of the report and the name of the person who took down the information. I even waited to speak to a supervisor to try to get money to replace the bag immediately, but since it was a holiday and everything was closed, this was a fruitless effort. So we put lots of tape on it and after about an hour and a half I was on my way.

When I returned home, I filled out the proper forms with all of the information the airline requested, then scanned everything (a copy of the report, a copy of my baggage check “stub,” my itinerary and a letter of explanation) and e-mailed it all to Lufthansa Customer Relations at, as indicated. I was even able to tell them the exact date I bought the suitcase about one year before.

I was totally amazed when I got a call a few days later letting me know they were sending a check for the amount I requested: $53.50 (the cost of replacing the bag at a discount store). True to their word, a few days later I got the check.

So save that information!

That wasn’t the end of the story. I had assigned my miles from Luft­hansa to my US Air frequent-flyer program before I was ticketed. A few weeks after my return, I began to check both Lufthansa and US Airways for my miles, to no avail.

After six weeks I called Luft­hansa and was directed to complete an online form. A payment of $20 was required for the research, so I decided not to pursue it but called US Airways, who were more accommodating. They asked for extensive information, which, fortunately, I had saved: flight numbers, origin/destination, dates, times, seat numbers and locator code. The representative told me to check again in a couple of weeks.

In a few days I got an e-mail telling me that 16,300 points had been credited to my frequent-flyer account. That was worth the trouble.

Good thing I had kept my itinerary for the trip with everything else I needed. You do learn some things after 45 years of travel.

Ocean Ridge, FL