American Airlines disputes the charges leveled against it in a $5 million class action lawsuit over a lost bag, but the woman who filed the suit is not backing down.
Danielle Covarrubias flew the airline last may from Seattle to Grand Rapids, Mich., and paid $25 to check her bag. She made it to her destination on time, but her bag did not. She claimed she sued the airlines when officials refused to refund the baggage fee.
American told ABC News that it disputes some of Covarrubias' details.
The bag did arrive, just a day later, American said. And Covarrubias never contacted the airline about the delayed bag or to seek a refund, airline officials claim.
"We at American Airlines have not been able to find any record of Ms. Covarrubias ever contacting or speaking to us about her delayed bag, a possible claim, or the subject of checked bag charges," spokesman Tim Smith said in an e-mail to ABC News. "Any of our customers who choose to file a baggage claim with American Airlines are always welcome to include a request for a checked bag fee refund as part of that claim. That is the proper procedure for any customer to seek a refund on a checked bag charge."
David Ongaro, a lawyer for Covarrubias, said the airline's statement is "not true."
As for the arrival of the bag, Ongaro said it doesn't matter that it showed up the next day.
"There's a contact that's entered into when the parties pay that baggage fee and the contract is that you are going to deliver that bag with the passenger at the location," Ongaro said. "If the bag isn't delivered, then there's a breach of that contract."
"It would be the same thing if I said to you: Oh, you're having a party Saturday. I'll come by and mow your lawn for $100. You give me the $100 and I show up Tuesday to mow your lawn. It's not what you bargained for and I shouldn't get to keep the $100," the lawyer said.
The class action lawsuit, filed on behalf of Covarrubias of Pierce County, Wash., is the first since American Airlines started to charge a fee for handling and transporting luggage in June 2008, according to industry experts. The airline was the first major carrier to impose such fees.
"It just goes to show you how enraged people are by the lack of common-sense regulation in the airline industry," said George Hobica, an aviation expert and creator of airfarewatchdog.com. "It doesn't make any sense at all that somebody should charge for a service and then screw up and not give you your money back."
For Covarrubias, the case isn't just about one bag but, according to her lawyers, "an entire industry that has lost touch with its customers."
Covarrubias, 35, was flying that day from Seattle to Grand Rapids, changing planes in Chicago. However, her American Eagle flight to Michigan was canceled. So American bought her a ticket on a United flight for that final leg.
When she arrived in Michigan, her bag -- with more than $800 of her possessions -- wasn't on it, court papers said. She waited for the next flight and her bag still wasn't there. She ended up spending more than $300 on new clothing and toiletries.