Thieves Steal Bride's Bracelet Containing Deceased Father's Ashes

It was supposed to be a day of celebration. But just before Sarah and Jose Rodriguez said “I do” in Mexico this summer, their destination wedding took a heartbreaking turn as Sarah unpacked her suitcase. Somewhere between Chicago and Mexico, thieves walked off with her most cherished possession.

"I opened my suitcase and just felt my stomach drop. Everything was scattered. I had a bag with my jewelry in it. It was unzipped and the boxes were open and empty.” Sarah Rodriguez said. “I was sobbing an all I could think was they took it.”

Missing was a piece of jewelry designed in honor of Sarah’s father who died three years ago. The special diamond bracelet was filled with his ashes — the only way Sarah’s father would be with his daughter as she walked down the aisle.

“I will never be able to replace that part of him,” Rodriguez said. “It just hit me. I just felt so violated.”

What Rodriguez did not realize at the time: other travelers were telling similar stories about the airlines she flew--Frontier.

U.S. Transportation Department reports show complaints about lost, damaged, delayed or pilfered baggage on Frontier Airlines are on the rise. In the first half of this year, more than 23,000 such complaints were logged by Frontier passengers. That’s up from the same time last year, when nearly 18,000 complaints were filed. In the government’s latest rankings Frontier had the third highest ratio of mishandled bags reported by passengers. When we asked Frontier about its place near the bottom of the airline’s rankings, the airline did not comment.

When Rodriguez called Frontier to report the theft, she says the customer service agent she spoke with showed her no compassion.

"One of the first things she said to me was "well this is why we tell our customers not to put any valuables in the checked bag,” Rodriguez recalled.

It was a mistake Rodriguez said she now regrets, but just as upsetting was the resolution Frontier offered her.

"I had two choices: I could either file a claim or take a $200 Frontier voucher and it felt like a slap in the face to me,” Rodriguez said.

With just enough of her father’s ashes remaining to make another bracelet, Sarah asked Frontier to reimburse the $1,300 cost. Instead, she told NBC 5 Responds, Frontier continued to offer travel vouchers. We asked Frontier to investigate the theft and whether customer service dropped the ball here. In a statement, the airlines said:

“Frontier Airlines takes claims of pilferage and baggage issues seriously. We have investigated this claim to ensure our policies and procedures are effective at preventing these issues from occurring while baggage is in our possession. Additionally, Frontier is working with our business partners to ensure appropriate handling of customer concerns in the future. Our baggage team is working with Ms. Wood (Rodriguez) to ensure a resolution that is appropriate and acceptable.”

Frontier Airlines then reversed course and sent Rodriguez a check for $1,300. She replaced the jewelry, but said she still can’t shake the feeling.

"Someone else is walking around with my dad's ashes on their wrist and that's a horrible feeling. A very unsettling feeling,” Rodriguez said.

Contact Us