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Tips & Tricks

Sure I’ll Shoot Your Wedding, But I’m not Responsible If I Lose Your Images – The New Business Mantra by U.S. Airways

By Pye Jirsa on April 17th 2012

Photographers be aware, flying U.S. Airways may not be such a good idea. Our good friend Lee Morris (Co-Founder of the Fstoppers) and his girlfriend boards a flight from Philadelphia to New York. As they board the plane, Katy is told she must “check” her carry on bag and put it below the plane as there was no more overhead room in the cabin bins. Sounds normal enough.

Well, when she arrived in NYC her bag didn’t show up at baggage claim. Once it became apparent that the bag wouldn’t show up, she spoke with staff who reassured her that her luggage would be delivered to her the next day. Unfortunately, when Katy got her bag the next day her laptop was missing. Yes, it was removed from her bag.

In addition to the cost of the laptop, unfortunately Katy made the mistake of not backing up several important files (including photos) that are now gone and are irreplaceable. Now, I don’t want to imagine what it would be like if I lost my laptop. All I know is that the air would be filled with virtually every creative expletive I could muster. While this scenario doesn’t seem like it could get any worse, get ready, it’s about to.

When told of the issue, U.S. Airways responded by essentially saying, “we cannot be responsible for your missing items.” The actual letter is below for those of you that would like to read the full letter, which I must say is a masterfully written document.


Now let’s break this down. U.S. Airways makes me check a bag, U.S. Airways loses my laptop from my bag, U.S. Airways is not responsible for lost contents from my bag… Welcome to the business mantra of the 21st century where we will take your money, but not any responsibility.

As a business owner, I think this would be a fabulously convenient mantra to adopt. But, I think our thriving business might hit a road block if I were to tell my clients, “I’ll take your money, shoot your wedding, but if anything happens to the photos or if I just don’t take good photos, I can’t be held responsible.”

Now, unfortunately for U.S. Airways, Katy is the girlfriend of Lee Morris who just so happens to be a nice guy and also happens to run a blog with several hundreds of thousands of visitors a month (Fstoppers), who is also a friend of us at SLR Lounge, another website with several hundreds of thousands of visits a month.

So, we are rallying. It is time for us to band together and collectively shout, “THIS ISN’T OK!” Photographers are held to extremely high standards of responsibility, and so should major companies! So, Tweet, Facebook, Google and do whatever it is that you must do to get the word out! While the contents of a laptop are irreplaceable, at least a U.S. Airways should make an effort to replace the laptop itself.

So John Hall of U.S. Airways, here is something that might help with your “resolution.” Admit fault, replace the laptop at cost, and just maybe you might earn some of our business in the future. But, for right now, I personally refuse to give business to a company who doesn’t have the same basic value and ethics system that we have in our small business. In the meanwhile, if anyone is stuck on a U.S. Airway flight, just be sure to keep your cameras, lenses and other valuables with you at all times!

Read the original article on

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Founding Partner of Lin and Jirsa Photography and SLR Lounge.

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Q&A Discussions

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  1. Traveling Photographers Beware « Sonia Ojeda Photography

    […] Photographers Beware Recently ran across an article at and thought I should share. I have only once traveled by plane with my photo gear and I panicked […]

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  2. Matthew Saville

    I posed this on the FStoppers article, so I’ll post it again here…This, ladies and gentlemen, is why I NEVER pack essential gear in an overhead compartment bag.  This is exactly why I love love LOVE my Tenba Messenger bag.  It holds a 15/17″ macbook, up to two (grip-less) DSLR bodies, 2 large lenses plus maybe one small one and a flash or two, ….AND IT FITS UNDER THE SEAT!
    I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve had to fly for out-of-state weddings, and the flight is so packed that I have to check my overhead luggage.  Either for those tiny “connection” flights that my wife calls “flying pencils”, …or just for an over-booked lay-over flight where you’re running to catch your connection and you’re the last person on a 100% full flight.
    My overhead bag is now relegated to just “junk”.  The few random lenses & gear I could stand to lose and still get the job done, (fisheye, macro, backup crop-sensor bodies etc) …and then just spare batteries, chargers, hoods, etc. Basically, the stuff that might still have value, but the stupid TSA agents don’t think about stealing.
    I don’t know if there are any Kevin & Bean fans in the house, (the KROQ morning show) …but I remember one time when they were talking about this, and TSA agents started calling in and saying yeah, they just take whatever they want from people’s bags, and totally get away with it.  I forget the exact number but I’m pretty sure that the shocking news was that MILLIONS of dollars worth of electronics get “confiscated” from checked luggage every year.  Maybe I’m totally off-base on that one, but I specifically remember a Kevin & Bean show where people were at least CLAIMING that this was the case.
    Good luck traveling, (and good luck sticking it to them!)=Matt=

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  3. Zack Jones

    Was the bag locked? I’m guessing not. Her Lawyer, assuming she hires one will have a tough time getting anything out of US Airways. And for the record no, I’m not a lawyer but I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express last night :).

    Seems US Airways likes screwing with photographers — Scott Kelby had an issue with them in the past:

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  4. Einstein Espinal

    I had issue with US Airways years ago and chose to drop them then. Sad that so little has changed.

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  5. Alex Tassioulas

    Wow. Given this policy, US Airways virtually encourages employee theft. “You must check your bags. We aren’t responsible for what happens to your possessions. Even if it’s our people rifling through your bags, because, really, who else would it be besides our agents, handlers, and contracted baggage workers?”

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  6. Melanie Luffman Labrecque

    My Response would be… My lawyer will be in touch..I have almost ended up twice not making flights because of some of the Flunky TSA agents at LAX throwing my$3,000 camera equipment around like its a baseball checking it..I would never let them check my equipment or my laptop. Many airlines are a problem anymore because everyone is trying to haul everything on Carry on and they don’t make them check it.  So many don’t want to pay the baggage fees and try and put all in the over head and they are really too big to go up there, so people like us Photographers and other travelers get the rotten end because of the tight wads.

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    • Ed Rhodes

      baggage fees and theft are the root of the problem. if airlines didn’t charge ridiculous amounts for checked baggage, didn’t rough the bags up, and didn’t have employees that steal every chance they get, then the customers wouldn’t feel the need to carry all of their belongings into the cabin with them.

      I stopped using US Airways in 2007. After reading this, i am happy with that decision.

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  7. Katie Gonzalez

    my response would be…”you will hear from my lawyer”

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  8. Cophotog2099

    And she left the laptop in the bag because…? Sure the situation sucks, but blaming the airline is like leaving you laptop in the front seat of your car when you valet park and then blaming the restaurant when it goes missing. This smells like trying to get the airlines to bend through social media to get a new laptop instead of some grand conspiracy plotted again photographers.

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  9. Ben

    What is so hard to to understand that you alone are responsible for making sure you don’t leave anything you can’t risk losing in your gate checked bag? Whether the computer was lost or outright stolen doesn’t change the fact that your friend’s girlfriend didn’t exercise common sense. 

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    • Pye

      Once again, this is a story of someone who was forced to check in their CARRY-ON bag once they were already on the plane, because no more overhead space was available. Removing valuables at that time wouldn’t be possible unless you wanted to carry it all by hand.

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  10. Kim

    so passenger security is so tight at airports, yet an employee somewhere along the lines is able to lift a laptop from a bag undetected? WORRYING.  

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  11. Stephanos99

    You can always post it on the US Airways FB page. I have my own similar story where I had to gatecheck my camera bag (a well padded Lowepro Pro Runner x450) due to flying on a smaller jet without full-size overheads. I did lock it before I handed it in, and everything was in it after I got it back, but a $600 lens was in pieces when I got it back. Suffice it to say, I got nowhere just like Pye. Given that their contract of carriage says they are not responsible for damage to electronics, I had no legal recourse. Since I knew they wouldn’t give me money in order to not set a precedent or admit responsibility, all the had to do was throw some frequent miles my way saying thank you for your loyalty. I had been an elite member in their program for several years, I used their credit card, ate at restaurants in their dining network and shopped at merchants in their shopping network, facts that I had mentioned in a letter sent to the company president. The only thing I got was a letter from the baggage dept saying there was nothing they could do. I have since “divorced” US Airways, and I’ve shifted all my travel dollars (and loyalty) to United/Continental. Since this happened, my wife and I have spent thousands of dollars on tickets with United/Continental and other airlines, the majority of which could’ve been spent on USAir. They could have avoided that financial loss by spending maybe $50-100 in miles posted to my account. But obviously, customer service is something US Airways isn’t concerned with.

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  12. A_manda69

    If the bag was taken at the aircraft it should have been tagged and tabled as so. then at her destination brought straight back up to her at the aircraft side. that’s what my airline in the UK do. this is discusting!further more a laptop bag is hardly large so if space available was sooooo tight why was it not taken at check in where she wouldn’t have been in such a rush and could have had time to remove all she needed too. This is totally discusting! I really have very sorry for your friend. Discusting treatment!

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  13. Corey Rollins

    Wow. Reminds me of my terrible situations with Travelocity. What is it with airlines / air travel based businesses thinking they can treat people like this. I resolved my issue by taking similar actions using my much smaller website / community and they eventually turned around. Took 2 weeks though. Good luck.

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