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Kill ’em with kindness. That’s probably the ingredient surfers have been missing for years when it comes to handling our age-old gripes with airlines over exorbitant baggage fees and getting our boards from Point A to Point B in one piece. Leave it to a guy like Alex Gray to flip the script.
Gray’s recent nightmare of getting to LAX only to find four of his surfboards completely obliterated by American Airlines isn’t a tragic story in the bigger picture of life or even an unfamiliar one for surfers. But a week of sharing his story and even taking it to local television has finally paid off.
The claim filed with American Airlines for the boards that had clearly been run over by a truck or loading vehicle of some sort, was settled to the tune of $3,500 over the weekend – the maximum reimbursement allowed by company policy. “The reimbursement money will go to replacing my surfboards and bag,” he told The Inertia. “I will also be donating a portion of to my favorite non-profit, the Jimmy Miller Foundation, as a thank you to everyone’s engagement.” The Jimmy Miller Foundation is an organization in Gray’s local South Bay community that provides an “Ocean Therapy” program for both wounded veterans and children. He also added that a portion of the money would go to fixing the original boards, which he plans to sign and give away.
But beyond all that, Gray says he’ll be following up his own story to get an understanding of the bigger picture: the dice roll that is dealing with airlines and their baggage policies. “The biggest dream being a change in overall policy, but that’s definitely going to be a long process,” he says. So who knows, maybe surfers just got their new champion in the struggle with airlines? Gray did make a point to thank American Airlines for handling their mistake appropriately, proving that a little good will can go a long way. “Most of all I’d like to thank all of YOU for your engagement,”  he wrote on Instagram. “It’s amazing to see the positive side of social media bring like-minded people together in stance of a fair result. Moving forward, I am positive the reply to this circumstance will hold as the example for all surfers in the future.
So while this sadly won’t be the last time a surfer takes his boards on a trip and opens up his or her bag to find a quiver of broken boards, it certainly can be the new outline for how we handle the inconvenience.