A wedding photographer claimed American Airlines damaged his expensive cameras while attempting to load them onto the plane.
Yosef Shidler posted the video titled: “American Airlines Breaks Cameras,” showing him recording AA employees fiddling with an open suitcase that appears to have camera equipment inside of it. A female AA employee instructs him that he is not supposed to be in the area and needed to return to the plane. The man refused citing he was documenting the incident in case any of his equipment was damaged.
In a letter to American Airlines, Shidler claims they are responsible for thousands of dollars worth of damage to his equipment and if not for a friend who had an extra camera, he would have not been able to perform the job he was hired for.
“As a wedding photographer in high demand, I routinely travel all over the United States. My cameras and lenses, indispensable tools of my trade, always travel with me, packed securely in a Pelican case, the industry standard for high value equipment.
Because my gear is so delicate and expensive, I always carry it with me on board as my hand luggage. On a recent trip to Detroit on June 5th, however, I was informed by the flight crew on flight 4200 that the plane was too small and I would have to gate check my Pelican case containing all my equipment. The request was totally illogical. There was plenty of space in the overhead bins for my case but the flight crew was insistent, telling me that unless I checked my bag, I could not board the flight. I advised the flight crew that my case contained approximately $20,000 worth of valuable equipment and asked if American would take responsibility if the bag was lost, damaged or stolen. I was assured that there was no reason for concern and that the minute I stepped off the plane in Detroit my bag would be handed to me at the gate. Reluctantly, I handed over my case and boarded the flight, hoping that my trust in American would not be misplaced.
Upon our arrival in Detroit, all gate checked items were loaded onto a ramp which conveyed the items upwards to the plane, a height of approximately 15 feet. I was horrified to see an American agent holding my lenses, which had been packed securely in my sealed Pelican case, in her hands and was informed that my case had fallen off the ramp from a height of about seven or eight feet. While Pelican cases are secure, they aren’t meant to be dropped from that height. The fall caused the case to pop open, inflicting severe damage to my equipment, which was laying scattered all over the ground.
I grabbed my cell phone and began filming as a baggage handler admitted that my case opened after it was dropped. I immediately contacted the gate agent, Natalie, to inform her about the situation and she directed me to the in-airport baggage service office where I filed a claim.
Thankfully, I was able to borrow a camera from a friend so I could photograph the wedding I was hired for. My equipment was unusable, having sustained several thousand dollars of damage.
Ironically, this was not the only bad experience I had on recent American flights between Detroit and La Guardia. That same trip from New York to Detroit was plagued by a terrible odor emanating from the bathroom that permeated the entire aircraft for the duration of the trip and my tray table was broken, making it virtually impossible for me to even have a drink during the flight. Another unpleasantly experience occurred on May 25th on flight 4513, when I sat on the tarmac in stifling heat with no air conditioning for a full 45 minutes while a ground crew worked on the climate control system.