The passenger alleges that United crew members opened and drank some of his scotch.

United Airlines Boeing 757-200 on approach at London Heathrow Airport.
Photo: Fasttailwind | Shutterstock

United Airlines passenger, Christopher Ambler, alleges that a bottle of scotch that he had in his checked luggage was broken into and consumed. Ambler packed his bottle of Glenmorangie A Tale of Cake Single Malt Whiskey, which is valued at around $100, into his checked bag during a flight with United Airlines. The passenger alleges that it was sipped on by baggage handlers from United Airlines.

The passenger claims that the bottle’s seal was broken into and that about one-third of the bottle’s liquid was missing. Ambler also alleges that there was no sign of possible leaking and that the rest of his luggage was dry and had no Scotch scent. Because of this, Ambler believes that the baggage handlers moving his luggage broke open the seal of his expensive bottle of scotch and consumed some of the whiskey.

An airline’s responsibility for luggage

According to the United States Department of Transportation, airlines are responsible for repairing or reimbursing a passenger for damaged baggage and its contents when the damage occurs while the bag is under the control of the airline during its transportation. This is subject to maximum limits on liabilities. The airline is not responsible for any pre-existing damage to the luggage or if the baggage was improperly packaged. If the damage to the bag or luggage cannot be repaired, compensation is typically given to the affected passenger.

2022-20 - United Airlines in flight

Photo: Tom Boon | Simple Flying

However, according to the US Department of Transportation, airlines are allowed to and often do exclude liability for certain types of items. Some of these types of items can include fragile items, electronics, perishable items, or other valuables. The categories of excluded items are typically listed in the airlines’ contracts of luggage carriage.

If the travel is domestic, then the airlines are not required to compensate passengers for items that were excluded in the airlines’ contracts of luggage carriage. However, if the travel is international, then airlines are required to compensate passengers for items that were transported. This even includes items that the passengers have not disclosed that may be listed on the airlines’ contracts of carriage.

A slight misstep for United Airlines

This slight blunder and bad press comes just days after United Airlines announced the first air taxi route being offered in Chicago. The airline announced the city’s first commercial air taxi route with Archer Aviation. This route will look significantly reduce the commute to O’Hare International Airport (ORD) from various places around the city.

United Airlines Boeing 767

Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying

Currently, the route being offered would take over an hour in peak-traffic time. However, with the air taxi being an option, the commute would take only ten minutes. The route, which will begin service in 2025, is looking to fly from O’Hare International Airport to Vertiport Chicago. Archer will utilize its electric vertical takeoff and landing aircraft, which is part of its Urban Air Mobility network plan.


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