bag of luggage on concrete (l) United Airlines sign above counter (c) bag of luggage on wooden table on concrete (r)

Arina P Habich/Shutterstock @vszyb/Twitter (Licensed)

‘United is lying about it’: A traveler tracked her missing luggage across town with an AirTag after United told her it was at a distribution center

'Folks please share so other United passengers who lost their bags know this may be their fate.'


Jacob Seitz


Posted on Jan 3, 2023   Updated on Jan 3, 2023, 2:31 pm CST

A Twitter user is accusing United Airlines of lying about the whereabouts of her lost luggage in the wake of the massive delays and travel disasters this holiday season.

In a thread, Valerie Szybala, a disinformation researcher from Washington, D.C., described how she tracked her luggage via an Apple AirTag and how United deflected blame for her luggage.

Szybala’s luggage was allegedly lost after an international trip where she had a layover in a Southwest Airlines hub during the carrier’s epic meltdown. According to CNN, her luggage arrived in D.C. the day after she returned home, but she didn’t receive her bag for nearly five full days after. Over the course of the next several days, she used her AirTag to track her bag’s whereabouts all over D.C., from an apartment complex to malls and a McDonald’s, all while United’s help desk was telling her her luggage was safely at a distribution center.

Szybala did not respond to a request for comment.

Szybala said she took an offer from United to hand the bag over to a delivery service instead of going to the airport to get it, which is where the saga started. 

Her bag rested at an apartment complex for several days after it arrived stateside before the first signs of movement: a trip to a local McDonald’s.

After that, more movement. Her bag went to a shopping center in the suburbs, twice, according to CNN. Then on Tuesday, the day she finally received her bag, she watched her bag move to a shopping mall. 

United’s help center was unhelpful during all of this, repeatedly telling Szybala that her bag was in the distribution center. One representative even told her to “calm down,” according to screenshots she posted to Twitter.

On Tuesday, Szybala had a breakthrough. She received a text from a courier who said he would deliver her bag to her that day. She happened to be snooping around the apartment complex where her luggage was staying for the past several days, so she told the courier to meet her there. 

“He looked a little surprised to have two news crews filming,” she said in a tweet. “He asked if he was in trouble or something, but at that moment I was too happy to have my bag back to ask more questions.”

She said that his explanation didn’t match up with her bag was showing over the course of the experience and she’d “​​still like some answers.”

In a statement to the Daily Dot, United said it has been in touch with Szybala and that the “baggage delivery vendor provided does not meet our standards and we are investigating what happened to lead to this service failure.”

Users on Twitter were quick to side with Szybala and were especially upset that she was told to “calm down.”

“‘CaLm dOwN’. Solid customer service from JK,” one user wrote.

“The fact that they said ‘calm down’ and then also lied about it…. oooooo the gaslighting. I’d be livid,” another wrote.

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*First Published: Jan 3, 2023, 2:29 pm CST