DENVER (KDVR) — Ashley Goodman’s mom Brenda always wanted to go to Japan. She died of sepsis in May of this year, and Goodman thought bringing her mother’s ashes to the island country over Christmas would be a fitting final resting place.

The problem is, Goodman’s travel plans hit turbulence, like thousands across the country. Now her mother’s remains are tucked in a checked bag, somewhere in the country.

“There is a real possibility I’m not gonna get her back,” Goodman said. “And then after checking with baggage claim, they don’t know where our bags are.”

Goodman believes her bags are in Sacramento, her and her boyfriend’s last destination. A Southwest agent confirmed they had one bag at the Sacramento airport, but it contained their snowboard.

“I feel helpless. Like a failure,” Goodman said. “I want her to have some closure, I wanna do it the right way. I don’t want her sitting in a storage hub somewhere or just sitting there out in the open, hanging around all the chaos.”

A spokesperson for Southwest said they extend their deepest apologies to Ashley. The airline has set up a page on its website to rebook flights and request refunds. Southwest has another page to file baggage reports and update delivery preferences.

The Transportation Safety Administration has formal guidance when traveling with cremated remains, and recommends traveling with those remains in a carry-on bag to “help protect the contents from the risks associated with checked baggage,” including rapid rough movement when moving along conveyer belts to the plane.

In a letter from Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to Southwest CEO Robert Jordan, Buttigieg outlined demands for reuniting customers with their bags.

Southwest communicated to the Department that all baggage has been scanned and that there will be greater transparency for customers about where their bags are currently located, where they want them sent, and when they’ll receive them. We expect you to make every effort, including alternate shipping methods, to get baggage back to customers as quickly as possible. Also, under DOT’s regulation, Southwest is required to reimburse passengers up to $3,800 for provable direct or consequential damages resulting from the disappearance of, damage to, or delay in the delivery of a passenger’s baggage.  

Pete Buttigieg