Two KC natives frustrated with how Delta Air Lines handled ‘smart’ luggage problem

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Two metro residents are frustrated with how Delta Air Lines handled a recent situation involving their luggage.

Kennedy Stout and Tom Porto, who had never met before Tuesday, were trying to board a Delta flight out of New York’s LaGuardia Airport when the ticket agent told them they needed to take out the battery in their smart luggage -- battery-powered suitcases equipped with USB portals.

“I flew Delta to New York, and they didn’t say anything about my bag, but leaving, my bag became a problem,” Porto said.

“I hadn’t realized that Delta was an airline that took issue with it,” Stout added.

Earlier this year, Delta and two other airlines made changes to their policies regarding smart luggage, particularly those equipped with lithium-ion batteries. The two locals admit they weren't aware of the rules changes, but they’re still disappointed at how the situation was handled.

Stout started unscrewing the battery from her luggage but the screwdriver, which was included in the suitcase, broke. She had planned to let Porto borrow it when she was finished.

“I put the screwdriver in and it snaps, completely breaks,” Stout said. “I mean the whole tip fell off.”

After finding a replacement, Stout and Porto said the ticket agent told them they had only one minute to get the batteries out before the gate closed.

“We were like, ‘One minute!’” Stout said. “We were very upset. We had no idea this was even close to the door closing.”

Panicked, Stout said she snatched her battery from the luggage. She then did the same for Porto’s, but it was too late. The ticket agent closed the gate.

“The way it was handle was very upsetting,” Porto said.

In one final desperate attempt, the two passengers said they started banging on the windows of the terminal to get the attention of the pilots, who were still parked on the tarmac.

“Earlier, we had heard the agent on the phone saying there are still two passengers behind with smart luggage, but they must remove them before I let them on,” Stout said. “They were aware of the situation.”

That’s when they said the unthinkable happened.

“We’re waving at both pilots, kind of pleading for them to let us on the plane, and the pilot on the right waved to us and the one on the left twice flipped us off,” Porto said.

“This cannot be happening,” Stout added. “A pilot would never do this to a patron.”

The two said they were in disbelief, but what made matters worse is that they claim the plane didn’t immediately take off.

“There was a chunk of time where we are sitting there, and we’re staring at a plane we’re supposed to be on,” Stout said.

FOX4 reached out to Delta. A spokesperson called the alleged rude gesture “factually untrue” and added that the plane remained at the gate for 15-20 minutes because the flight was waiting clearance from air traffic control.

As for smart luggage, the spokesperson said they communicate their policy through “the e-receipt upon purchase of the ticket, the 24-hour check-in reminder email as well as via signs and overhead announcements at the gate.”

Stout and Porto said the airline paid for their flight home the next day, but they believe all of this could’ve been avoided if airline personnel had shown some compassion.

“The gate agents could’ve been a lot more accommodating giving us time to take these batteries out of our bags and let us on the plane,” Porto said.