Thursday, September 14, 2000

$1 million departure: Jewel-laden bag missing from flight

By James Pilcher
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        The Jones brothers of Birmingham, Ala., lost the mother of all bags this week.

        Now they are questioning Comair's carry-on luggage policy as the airline tries to locate $1 million in jewels missing since Tuesday.

        The jewelers checked two sales cases at the gate filled with $2 million worth of merchandise while returning from an Iowa sales call.

        They say they wanted to carry the cases with them but couldn't because the bags exceeded Comair's restrictions.

        When the two arrived in Cincinnati to connect to their Birmingham flight, one bag was missing.

        Jason and David Jones suspect foul play and wonder why they were forced to part with their valuables.

        “I threw a few cuss words ... and now I'm just feeling hollow,” said Jason Jones, whose case is missing.

        Mr. Jones said the last time he saw both bags together was on the tarmac at the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids.

        He said said he learned of Comair's policy — which is tighter than parent company Delta Air Lines' — from a flight attendant when boarding a flight Monday from Cincinnati to Cedar Rapids.

        He said he explained that he couldn't part with the bag for insurance reasons.

        “She was having none of it,” Mr. Jones said.

        To avoid a confrontation on the return trip, the broth ers checked their bags at the gate — only to have one turn up missing in Cincinnati.

        Authorities at both the Eastern Iowa Airport in Cedar Rapids and the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport are investigating.

        Comair spokesman Nick Miller said the airline is trying to track the bag and defended Comair's carry-on policy, citing safety issues.

        The brothers' company had insured each bag for $250,000, said Howard Baker, agent for Wexler Insurance in Coral Gables, Fla. The wholesale value of the jewelry is $300,000; its retail value is $1 million.

        But a claim could be rejected, Mr. Baker said, because Mr. Jones let the bag out of his possession.


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