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Plane Crash Survivors: What About the Baggage?

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There's only so much airlines will cover.

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The New York Post, acknowledged Poopsheet of Record, calls Thursday's splash landing of a US Airways (LCC) plane "Miracle on the Hudson."

True enough - and that's great tabloid journalism. You can bet we'll get sob stories of pets lost in the cargo hold in a few days.

In the meantime, what about the baggage?

The lucky passengers probably didn't give their bags a thought as they thawed out after their dip in the icy Hudson. But as those borrowed clothes start to get a little sticky (and someone starts to fret about his dentures), passengers are likely to turn their attention to things left in the overhead compartments or stored in the baggage hold.

The National Transportation Safety Board will investigate the cause of the crash; the baggage is the least of its concerns. US Airways won't be able to get its mitts on the baggage during the investigation and will probably end up writing checks to the passengers.

It's all spelled out in the small print no one reads.

For starters, passengers need to file a written request within 45 days to get reimbursed for lost luggage. The maximum payout is about $3,300 per passenger for provable losses.

Some entrepreneur is likely to claim lost camera equipment, valuable business documents stored on a laptop, rare manuscripts, a Stradivarius or 2, a mink coat, gold bullion, sterling silver, pre-Columbian art, negotiable bonds, jewelry and prescription medicine.

Tough luck - they won't receive an extra nickel, because such items aren't covered.

But passengers who booked their seat using a credit card may receive coverage; those purchasing travel insurance in addition to the airline's standard contract will be covered for provable losses.

US Airways Pilot Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger III, a former Air Force fighter pilot, showed guts and incredible skill in getting the plane down safely after the engines failed. Here's hoping the airline's customer service department doesn't flub the small stuff.
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