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Bags, and reimbursements, making their way to Southwest customers

"We don't have any numbers to share but nearly 100% of bags have been returned," a Southwest spokesperson said.

DENVER — It is frustrating enough having to wait 30 minutes or an hour for checked luggage to make it on the baggage claim carousel.

How about three weeks?

The Southwest Airlines travel mess from the holidays is not over, even if the bags are no longer on display at Denver International Airport (DIA). 

Last week, bags on display like a zoo exhibit filled the area by Baggage Claim 1 on the east side of the airport. Today, there are a fraction of the bags.

On Jan. 2, David Freibaum's bag was still in Denver. He was already back at home in Maryland.

"Days turned into a week that turned into two weeks, and as of Saturday, it'll be three weeks," Freibaum said.

We know his bag was in Denver because one week ago this past Monday, a 9NEWS camera captured footage of his bag tag.

"I know that it was there at least a week by your footage," Freibaum said. "That bag has been on an adventure from Denver to Dallas to warehouses."

"I've been told I should have it by Friday, so we'll keep our fingers crossed."

Freibaum isn't the only one.

"I basically went on an 11-day vacation without any bags," Kristen Turner said.

Turner received her two checked bags back last week, after two weeks. At least one of them was at DIA on Jan. 2 because, again, we have footage of her bag tag.

"I got a call on Jan. 6, that Friday, that they had my bags at the DIA baggage claim," Turner said.

She returned from her trip to Sarasota, Fla., on Jan. 4 and did not know she could have, perhaps, found her bag on her way out of the airport. Now, she has moved on to trying to get reimbursed for her expenses on her trip without her packed bags.

"Basically, spent about three or four days trying to recover the things that were necessities, sneakers, flip flops, contacts, bathing suits, things to be able to function and actually have somewhat of a vacation," Turner said.

She has uploaded her receipts, which total quite a bit: $3,700.

"And that's including the airline ticket that I had to buy last minute, the Lyft, the piece of luggage I had to buy to bring home the stuff that I had gotten to have a vacation," Turner said.

Next with Kyle Clark emailed a Southwest Airlines spokesperson asking for an estimate on the number of bags yet to be reunited with their traveler.

"We don't have any numbers to share but nearly 100% of bags have been returned," the Southwest spokesperson replied.

"I am a strict carry-on-only girly," Natalie Siegel said.

Siegel was supposed to fly on Christmas Day from New York to Denver on Southwest but had to alter her plans because of her canceled flight.

She and her husband found two seats on a Delta flight from New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport instead of LaGuardia, where they were for a Southwest flight.

"I got an email yesterday that they are reimbursing me $1,593, which included the plane tickets for my husband and I to get back from New York to Denver on our Delta flights and the $75 Uber that we took. So, we got every penny back," Siegel said.

Siegel is not deterred from flying Southwest again.

"I still am a loyal Southwest stan. I'm actually flying Southwest next weekend," Siegel said. "This experience sucked, of course, it was not great, but look at how they righted it. I could not believe that. We got back all of our money. It was unbelievable."

"It depends on how they handle this situation, quite honestly," Turner said.

When Turner finds out the outcome of her reimbursement request, she will decide which airline to fly next.

"I expect Southwest to take care of me, honestly, because we can easily find other airlines to replace Southwest," Turner said.

When asked if Southwest will reimburse for the purchase of clothing and essentials bought by customers who traveled without their bags, a spokesperson emailed the following response:

"We are reimbursing reasonable costs related to the operational challenges. Teams are processing each request on a case-by-case basis," the spokesperson wrote.

However, in the reimbursement email that Siegel received, it spelled out what is and is not reimbursed.

"Reasonable requests for reimbursement for meal, hotel accommodations, and alternate transportation (e.g., rental cars and tickets on other airlines) were honored. Any other request such as lost wages, credit card interest, expenses requested with handwritten receipts, etc. were not honored," the email stated.

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