This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

Talk about a travel nightmare coming true. Merry Cannon, her husband and their two children, ages 1 and 5, were trying to fly from their home in Arkansas to Europe on American Airlines for her husband’s business trip. The group endured several travel obstacles: a canceled flight because of a cracked windshield, missed connecting flights and delays and luggage that the airline lost for five days.

The Cannons thought their complicated trip was over when they landed back in Arkansas and finally retrieved their luggage. Then one bag started to stink.

“When we returned home in Arkansas I immediately went to the American Airlines customer assistance desk to report how awful my bag smelt,” Merry Cannon told news.com.au. “I actually told them that it smelt like something had died. I, of course, didn’t think that was actually the case.”

Airline staff told Cannon that perhaps the smell was from the bag getting wet while it sat outside for days on the runway. “[The airline rep] thought it was mold, but even said it smelled far worse than that,” she said. The airline employee told her to wash her bag and clothes, and if the odor persisted, to file a claim with the airline.

“When we returned home, we took the bag to our back porch because the smell was so horrendous,” she said. “I began to wash the clothes. I washed one load three times in bleach, vinegar, OxiClean and Tide. I finally decided whatever was on them would not come clean. I placed all those clothes in (garbage) bags. I grabbed more clothes in hopes that maybe the bottom of the bag didn’t get wet, so they would come clean.”

Then, at the bottom of the bag, she found the source of the stench.

“When I grabbed the clothes is when I saw the rat,” she said. “I have never screamed and cried so much in my life. I ran inside and began scrubbing my hands and arms. I had touched the things in this bag because American Airlines told me to just wash everything.”

Cannon called American, and the airline expedited her claim. She then called her local health department, who told her “the biggest concern would be the plague,” she said. “That never even entered my mind.” The health department told her to burn the bag and everything inside immediately.

It isn’t clear at what point before or during the trip the rat entered her bag.

“We have apologized and are not aware of any similar issues of a rat making its way into a checked bag before,” American said in an email statement to TPG. “While we are unable to determine if the issue occurred in the United States or overseas, we did apologize to the customer, and they were compensated earlier this month.”

Cannon says it took the airline a week to finally offer her compensation for her bag and belongings. But, the airline eventually reimbursed her for roughly the maximum amount possible for a mishandled bag on an international trip.

“Finally they told me that they would give me $1,600, which is the maximum international payout,” she said. “My bag and its belongings totaled $3,217. To me that’s crazy that international has a payout that is about half as much as domestic.”

Cannon says she frequently travels with her husband on his business trips, but this was the worst thing she’s ever experienced. “The whole trip with American Airlines was a bit of a nightmare and the rat in the bag was, for lack of better words, the cherry on top!”

H/T: Fox News

Featured image by studioEAST/Getty Images.

Know before you go.

News and deals straight to your inbox every day.

The best beginner points and miles card out there.
Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

NEW INCREASED OFFER: 60,000 points! With great travel benefits, 2x points on travel & dining and a 60,000 point sign up bonus worth up to $1,200 in value, the Chase Sapphire Preferred is a great card for those looking to get into the points and miles game. Here are the top 5 reasons it should be in your wallet, or read our definitive review for more details.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Chase Sapphire Preferred named "Best Credit Card for Flexible Travel Redemption" - Kiplinger's Personal Finance, June 2018
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • No foreign transaction fees
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • No blackout dates or travel restrictions - as long as there's a seat on the flight, you can book it through Chase Ultimate Rewards
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
18.24% - 25.24% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent Credit

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.