Man Says American Airlines Lost $26,000 Prosthetic Leg, Only Paid $600

  • A man claims American Airlines lost the suitcase containing his prosthetic leg.
  • Michael Williams said his prosthetic leg cost $26,650, but he wasn’t compensated for it. 
  • Williams said he doesn’t want to fly anymore after the incident.

A Missouri man claims that American Airlines lost his suitcase and prosthetic leg — and only compensated him $600 for it. 

Michael Williams, a disabled man from St. Louis, Missouri, told Fox2Now that the airline lost his suitcase, which contained the aluminum leg, on a flight from Indianapolis to Charlotte in 2020. The custom-made device cost Williams $26,650, he said in the report.

“You can’t do this to someone that’s disabled and just say, hey, we lost something of yours, but we’re not going to pay for it,” said Williams, who was on his way home to St. Louis.

According to Williams, he checked in his suitcase — which was labeled fragile — before boarding the American Airlines flight. Once Williams arrived at St. Louis International Airport, he waited for the suitcase at the baggage claim area but it never arrived. 

Williams said he filed a claim with the airline to seek compensation for his lost belongings, which included his prosthetic leg. He added that he was initially paid some $600 to cover the clothes he lost in the suitcase, according to the Fox2Now report.

Williams then followed up with American Airlines to compensate him for his lost prosthetic leg. According to Williams, a representative told him the airline had refused the claim.

“We don’t have enough proof or evidence to pay for the leg, so we’re not going to pay for the leg,” Williams said, referring to the representative’s response.

Passengers are required to submit a reference number, a copy of their ticket receipt and baggage claim checks, and their original, dated, and itemized receipts in order to receive compensation for lost suitcases, according to American Airlines’ official website. 

The website also states that the airline will reimburse passengers for “reasonable and necessary times you need immediately while away from home without your bags.”


According to a post on Williams’ Instagram page, he underwent a below-the-knee amputation after surviving an accident in 2019.

“I felt I like I was a freak, everywhere I would go I had people staring at me,” Williams wrote in the post, adding that he had to learn how to walk again using the prosthetic leg.

Williams said he has hired a lawyer to negotiate on his behalf with the airline to compensate him for the lost device, per Fox2Now.

“It’s to the point now that I don’t want to fly,” Williams told Fox2Now, adding that he fears that his other mobility devices, like his wheelchair, might get lost while traveling — and that he risks not getting compensated again. 

Williams isn’t the only passenger who lost his suitcase while flying with American Airlines. According to data from the Bureau of Transportation, the airline mishandled the highest number of luggage among all US airlines in 2022.

Williams and American Airlines did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

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