- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 20, 2007

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Some US Airways passengers who flew through Philadelphia during last week’s nasty winter storm still didn’t have their luggage yesterday, an apparent step backward for a company battling persistent baggage complaints.

“It’s been a nightmare,” said Joe McLean, a 56-year-old advertising salesman whose Valentine’s Day flight from Philadelphia to Los Angeles was canceled. “They told me it’s been located at some airport and they’re sending it back, but I’ve been waiting for days.”

Mr. McLean’s flight was supposed to leave at 9:30 a.m. last Wednesday, but the plane wasn’t boarded until 7:30 p.m. The flight ended up being canceled shortly afterward, and Mr. McLean said he had to stand in line for 2 hours to file a lost-baggage claim.

“By the time they get around to delivering to me, it could be Christmas,” Mr. McLean said.

US Airways canceled 670 flights into and out of Philadelphia as a major winter storm hit the Northeast last week. Thousands of bags were separated from their owners.

The airline promised that all bags would be delivered by Monday, but that didn’t happen.

Yesterday morning, at least 200 bags were still lined up in the baggage-claim area at Philadelphia International Airport. The company said it expected all remaining bags to go out for delivery by the end of the day.

US Airways has been trying to improve its baggage handling after a meltdown two years ago. Over three days in December 2004, the airline had to cancel hundreds of flights, and thousands of pieces of luggage were stranded in Philadelphia after scores of flight attendants and baggage handlers called in sick.

Last year, the Tempe, Ariz., airline was ranked 13th among the largest airlines for the rate at which it mishandled its passengers’ bags, according to a U.S. Department of Transportation report. The company just pumped $20 million into upgrades for its Philadelphia airport facilities, including new baggage-handling equipment.

Phil Gee, a spokesman for the airline, said most of the bags lost last week were delivered within two days, and those that took longer were an “anomaly.”

Kathy Pulver has spent six days waiting, calling and driving back and forth to the airport from her home in Medford, N.J., to try to track down her suitcase.

“Everyone has been very, very polite, but no suitcase,” said the 54-year-old consultant. “I’m going to go back today with my claim filled out and look again. Hopefully, I’ll find the bag.”

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