ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – “Dealing with a prosthetic leg is not as easy as people think it is,” Michael Williams, a St. Louis resident, told Nexstar’s KTVI. He said dealing with an airline that lost your prosthetic leg is even harder.

“You can’t do this to somebody that’s disabled. Just say, ‘Hey, we lost something of yours, but we’re not going to pay for it,’” Williams said.

But that’s what he said American Airlines told him. This all started in 2020. Williams was flying from Indianapolis to Charlotte on his way home to St. Louis.

“The special-made leg, I put it in my suitcase. I put the sticker on it that says ‘fragile,'” he explained. “I gave it to the young lady at American Airlines when I was checking in. When I get to St. Louis airport, they roll me downstairs to baggage claim. I’m sitting there waiting for my luggage to come off, and never comes off.”

Williams said he followed all of American Airlines’ delayed or damaged baggage protocols, verified what was missing, and submitted a claim. He said he eventually received a reimbursement check for a little more than $600.

“When I spoke with the young lady that was handling the claim, she told me this was to cover the clothes that you lost. I was like, ‘OK, fine, great,'” he said.

However, when he communicated with American Airlines a few weeks later about reimbursing him for the lost prosthetic, he said a representative said there wasn’t enough evidence and they would not pay for the leg.

Since then, Williams has hired an attorney to negotiate on his behalf. He said the lost prosthetic wasn’t cheap, costing him $26,650.

And the way it fit was truly priceless.

“When you find the one that works, that’s the one you want to hold onto,” Williams explained.

He said he was hoping American Airlines would reconsider its ruling and pay to replace his lost leg.

“It’s to the point where I don’t want to fly. I feel like if I fly again, what if I have to fly with my wheelchair and they lose my wheelchair this time,” Williams said. “And they tell me we lost your power wheelchair, but hey, we’re not going to do anything about it. It’s like, what do you do?”

KTVI contacted American Airlines several times over the last week regarding Williams’ situation and has yet to get a response.

Williams isn’t the first to lose a prosthetic while flying. Last year, a Texas woman accused Allegiant Airlines of losing the bag carrying her waterproof prosthetic leg while she was flying to San Diego. The woman’s bag was later found at an airport in Provo, Utah, with someone else’s name on it.