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Airline passenger claims United was 'lying' about lost luggage after AirTag showed it in 'mysterious' building

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(NEXSTAR) — United Airlines is investigating the circumstances surrounding a missing piece of luggage after a passenger claims it was sent to a random apartment complex — then a McDonald’s, then a shopping mall — instead of her home .

Valerie Szybala had flown home to Washington DC on a United Airlines flight after the holidays, but her luggage was delayed. United gave her the option to have the bag delivered to her home the next day, and she took it.

But her bag didn’t arrive the next day. It didn’t arrive the next day either.

Szybala, luckily, had left an Apple AirTag inside her luggage, which allowed her to track the location of her lost bag – and she was surprised to find it in an apartment complex elsewhere in the city.

Szybala documented her ordeal on twitter, claiming at one point that her bag was moved “to a McDonald’s” before being brought back to the apartment complex. The next day, the AirTag in her suitcase was ringing in a suburban shopping center in the suburbs, she said, before being taken back to the “mysterious apartment complex”.

She then visited the apartment complex, where she claims to have found two other “Empty” Baggage Belonging to United Airlines Passengers behind the building, near the dumpsters, according to their Twitter posts.

Szybala contacted United’s customer service team, asking why her bag’s AirTag was dripping in the apartment complex instead of the mail drop center.

“Calm down, your bag is in the delivery service”, replied the representative, according to a screenshot of the conversation.

When Szybala pressed for an explanation as to why her bag was in the apartment complex and why there were two other bags near the building’s garbage, she was again told that the bag was “safe” at the distribution center.

“I would like everyone to know that @united has lost control of my purse and is lying about it,” she wrote on Twitter.

Finally, on January 2, Szybala again visited the building, this time with “a small group” that included members of the media. She then received a message from someone identifying himself as a driver for Couriers United LLC, a third-party delivery service used by United Airlines. The courier said that her purse was mistaken for another passenger’s, which caused the delay, and would now take her to her home.

She called back and told him to bring it to the apartment complex.

“…He drove back to meet me near the building,” she tweeted. “He looked a little surprised to have two news crews filming. He asked if he was in trouble or something, but at that point I was really happy to have my bag back to ask more questions.”

As of Tuesday, Szybala still had not received an explanation of the whereabouts of her bag from United or its courier service. But she revealed that all your belongings have been accounted for, and theorized that her suitcase was simply left in a courier’s car for several days while he ran errands.

“I don’t know about that [the courier] was telling the truth, I suspect he wasn’t,” she tweeted. “Nothing I’ve said by this guy or @United explains why my bag spent 3 days in an apartment complex garage, with occasional shopping excursions. I would still like some answers.

United Airlines confirmed an investigation into the incident, calling it a “service failure” in a statement obtained by Nexstar.

“We have reached out to this customer to discuss the situation and confirm that she has received her baggage,” wrote an airline representative. “The service provided by our baggage delivery provider does not meet our standards and we are investigating what happened to lead to this service failure.”

A representative for Couriers United LLC did not immediately return a request for additional information.

Szybala, for his part, said he learned several valuable lessons from the ordeal. For starters, she will “never again” allow the airline to deliver lost bags, but will choose to collect them herself. She is also an advocate for luggage tracking devices, calling her Apple AirTag a “lifesaver” in this particular circumstance.

“It was $30, totally worth it,” she wrote in the thread’s comments, before posting asking Apple to reward her to potentially drum up business among airline passengers.

“Can I at least get a referral code[?]she asked the tech company.