Hunting Gear Liability - Are Airlines Responsible For Your Gear?
In a few weeks I am headed back to NY for the archery whitetail deer season (which opened today). In preparation for the trip I decided to review the TSA guidelines for traveling with firearms and archery equipment. I understood that very well, but when I moved on to the JetBlue website I was caught off guard and a bit peeved. Here is the letter I sent to JetBlue (which explains my concerns) and the response I received.
Letter to JetBlue:
In one section of the website it is mentioned that: Items that JetBlue Does Not Hold Liability for...
The following items are accepted for transportation at your own risk. JetBlue will not be liable for damage, loss or spoilage of these items.
You may choose to carry the item(s) with you if they meet the requirements for carry-on baggage. Essential medication or currency should always travel with you and should never be checked.
Fragile or unsuitably packaged items (such as antiques, art, bottles, cameras [video, still, projectors], ceramic, computer equipment, glass, hockey sticks, liquids, luggage totes, mirrors and other items subject to break in transit, musical instruments, precision tools, radios, small appliances, sound reproduction equipment, televisions or trophies)
Irreplaceable or essential items (such as antiques, artifacts, car keys, house or other keys, currency, checks, negotiable papers, securities, essential medication, heirlooms, collectible items, irreplaceable business documents, jewelry, precious stones or metals including silverware, natural fur products, optics, contact lenses, paintings/works of art)
Perishable items (such as fish, meat or any perishable food item, flowers or plants)
Then, on the page where JetBlue discusses traveling with firearms it says:
Please note: Sporting goods/equipment will only be accepted for transportation at the customer's own risk. JetBlue Airways will not be liable in the event that the item is damaged, lost, or spoiled upon arrival.
Why wouldn't JetBlue be liable if firearms/compound bows were damaged upon arrival? I am going to be taking a trip in the next few weeks and want to be sure my archery equipment is going to be covered. If it is checked by TSA officials and is in great shape when the case is locked up by the official and it arrives broken who is then liable? I am very confused and thinking about switching my flight if my gear is not covered.
Response from JetBlue:
Thank you for contacting JetBlue Airways regarding our baggage liability. We appreciate the opportunity to respond.
Firearms, shooting equipment and related items are conditionally accepted items as checked baggage at the customer's own risk. For this reason, these items must be suitably packed in either a crush-proof container specifically designed for the equipment, or in a hard-sided container, or in packaging designed to withstand ordinary handling.
In accordance with our Contract of Carriage, JetBlue will not be liable in the event that such items are damaged or lost. There are insurance companies that will provide coverage for baggage, or you also have the option to have the equipment shipped.
Albert, we thank you for choosing JetBlue and we look forward to welcoming you onboard.
Customer Commitment Crew
Ok, what kind of answer is that? It's just regurgitating the information found on the website. I call bullshit. Sure, I know I need to pack my gear in a hard-sided case and be sure it's packed well, but come on. They are telling me I'll need extra insurance to cover my gear? It pays to get an SKB Case that has $1,500 liability coverage with it. In my opinion, JetBlue is getting off easy here. What this says to me is - Well, we'll take your money, but should we decide to toss your hard-sided case filled with your expensive archery gear and it lands wrong and breaks, well then, too bad so sad. You are shit out of luck. I mentioned this to my wife and she brought up a good point. She said to check out some of the other airlines and see what their policies are. All of the information was found on their respective websites.
American assumes no liability for musical instruments/recreational/sports items not presented in a hard-sided case.
American's liability for loss, damage or delayed delivery of checked baggage, including transfer baggage, is limited to the actual value of the baggage or $3,300, whichever is less, unless the passenger declares a higher value for loss of baggage, not to exceed $5000.00 including the $3,300 standard liability per passenger and pays American a sum of $2.00 per $100.00 (or any portion thereof) of excess value. Excess valuation coverage is not available for and does not apply to items excluded in our liability below.
United AirlinesFor travel wholly between U.S. points, liability for delay, damage or loss to checked baggage, including carry-on baggage if tendered to the carrier's in-flight personnel for storage or otherwise delivered into the custody of the carrier, is limited to a maximum of $3,300 per ticketed passenger.
Delta AirlinesFragile/Limited Liability Release Items
We will accept certain fragile or perishable items without a limited liability release as long as they meet the requirements outlined below:
* Item is packaged in the original factory-sealed container
* Item includes internal protective packing material
* Item is typically designed for shipping
Items that are not appropriately packaged, and are not assistive devices, will only be accepted upon completion of a limited liability release.
Delta Air Lines is not liable for checked or unchecked baggage in excess of the limits described above unless:
* You declare a higher value.
* The declared value does not exceed $5,000.
* The item is properly described, properly packaged and undamaged.
* You pay an excess value fee at check-in.
The excess valuation charge is applicable only when the declared value is greater than the applicable liability limit.
Domestic Excess Valuation Charges
(Continental U.S., Hawaii, Alaska, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands)
Total Amount of Declared Value Fee Paid at Check-In
$3300.01 to $4000.00 $40.00
$4000.01 to $5000.00 $50.00
To me, it looks as if American and United have a better policy, but Delta is asking for the insurance to be added. None of the other three say they will not be held liable in the event of damage or loss. Am I wrong in thinking that JetBlue is wrong here?
Some of you might be thinking it would be easier to just change airlines. Normally I would agree, but not in this case. JetBlue flies a fairly direct route and the time of arrival in NY is much better than the others. My layover is in NYC, so if I was stuck driving from there to my destination I could do it if I had to. The ticket price is relatively the same, but the other factors led me to JetBlue. I did have airline miles I wanted to use from American, but they gave me the big middle finger when I wanted to use them for a one-way flight. Whatever.
Honestly, for you travelers out there, how do you feel about this and what precautions would you take for a trip like this?