American Airlines killed our Kindle

Broken Kindle showing horizontal black lines across the screen

Alternative title: What to do if your Kindle breaks after warranty coverage has expired.
What happened: last night we found out our Amazon Kindle was dead. It had been killed by American Airlines.

What we’re doing: We are getting a replacement Kindle from Amazon (see below).

What we will do differently: We will be even more careful with carry-on items that may get “valet checked” when we’re boarding the plane. We will try to check all of our valuables before leaving the terminal (or at least within 24 hours).

The longer story, and how to get a replacement Kindle if yours breaks…

We had the Kindle stored in: #1 it’s leather protective case, #2 a padded protector bag #3 a Patagonia MLC Wheelie Carry-On Bag (thanks Elizabeth, we love the bags!).

We were also taking the MLC bag carry-on because we didn’t want the stuff inside it to get damaged. Well, boarding for our flight into Springfield the ticket lady asked everyone with a bag (beyond a small purse) to valet check it. We did so.

When we arrived in Springfield I waited, with everyone else, to get our bags. We all heard a loud crash as the elevator lift was raising the bags to the walkway. One woman said “there goes my laptop”, and I felt her pain. I hope her laptop made it, but our Kindle did not survive, as you shall see…

Anyway, we got our bags and went on our way. Samantha’s Kindle and my Sony reader were the only fragile electronics in that bag. though we had some of our camera lenses in another MLC bag.

We didn’t think anything of it until last night (about two weeks after our flight) when I decided to load a new book onto the Kindle for Samantha. You can see what I found, a Kindle with a malfunctioning screen :-(.

Thankfully everything else made it through unscathed.

Remedies? American Airlines requires you to notify them of damaged luggage within 24 hours. Amazon Kindle warranties are 1 year (and ours was purchased when they first came out in 2008).  So, here were our options:

#1 a repair service  (costs approx $200)
#2 buy a new 2nd Generation Kindle (approx $259)
#3 buy a used Kindle (prices vary)
#4 contact Amazon for a replacement Kindle* ($99) (with free 2 day shipping via Amazon Prime)
*NOTE: the replacement Kindle is $99 because our Kindle was out of warranty, if you have a damaged Kindle within warranty then you may be covered for free…

Why doesn’t Amazon offer a Kindle repair service? This is a good question. The guy (Rob) that I talked to actually mentioned some valid points on why they DON’T offer a repair service:

  1. faster turn around – I’m getting a new Kindle in 48 hours instead of an unknown amount of time getting my unit repaired.
  2. fewer latent problems – example: we send in our airline damage Kindle to get the screen fixed, then we get it back and find out another component was weakened when it got smashed and now needs repair too.

Can you get a newer generation Kindle at a reduced price?  like an upgrade? No, they don’t offer that for an original Kindle to a 2nd gen Kindle  (I asked).

How do you get a replacement Kindle? Here’s Amazon’s response (2010.Feb.20th)

Thanks for asking about the service options we have once you are outside the warranty period.

In the event that you damage your Kindle and don’t have an extended warranty or are outside the warranty period, you can get it replaced for a $99 fee. If you are interested in availing of this option, please contact us by phone.

You can reach us by phone directly and toll free from many countries by clicking the Contact Us option in the right-hand column of our Kindle Support pages at:

When you visit our website and select Contact Us, click on the “Phone” tab, enter your number, and we’ll call you right back.

Contacting us through the website allows you to verify security before a call is placed and ensures we have your account information ready when we call you. If your country isn’t listed or you’re unable to take advantage of the Contact Us feature, you can call us directly at 1-866-321-8851 or calling 1-206-266-0927 (if you’re calling from outside the U.S.).

Thanks for choosing Kindle.

Do I need to send my damaged Kindle back? (yes) Do I have to pay for postage? (no) Here’s Amazon’s instruction email (2010.Feb.20th)


We’re sending another Kindle to you as soon as possible under the Service Fee agreement. Your order confirmation e-mail will indicate a charge of $99.00 for the item and shipping costs.

Here’s your order information:

Order Number: 103-8946054-XXXXXX
Estimated Delivery Date: XXXX

Please send the damaged Kindle back to us within 30 days from the date of this e-mail. If we don’t receive the item by then, you’ll be charged full retail price. You can print a pre-paid shipping label here:

Remember to back up your personal content to your computer. When you return your Kindle, please do not return your power adapter, USB cable, manual, any accessories or other items that shipped with your Kindle. When we send a replacement, we’ll send you a Kindle only without any additional accessories.

You’ll be able to access your existing Kindle library and change your subscription delivery options on the Manage Your Kindle page when your replacement Kindle arrives.

Thanks for allowing us to work through this problem with you. Your order will be there soon.

Overall, Amazon made the replacement process painless. Rob was empathetic and helpful. If the replacement gets here in approximately 2 days, I will be pretty pleased with the process.

This is one of the first drawbacks I’ve found to e-readers as opposed to regular books: e-readers can break if you’re not super-careful, while paper books can last decades or more even if they’re not pampered.

Dead Kindle sideways


  • Anonymous

    I hope you don’t have any trouble with replacing the content. I’ve read horror stories about that.

  • J.D.


    I don’t anticipate a problem, most of our content is non-DRM and the remainder can be re-downloaded via Amazon’s Kindle library: when you buy a Kindle book, you can usually read it (at the same time) on up to six devices. Also, the internal storage and SD are fully functional on the old device, only the screen was broken.

    More info from Amazon:
    “Content purchased from the Kindle Store can be downloaded to your Kindle, iPhone, or iPod touch as long as you’ve registered the device to the account that purchased the Kindle content. There is no limit on the number of times a title can be downloaded to a registered device, but there may be limits on the number of devices (usually 6) that can simultaneously use a single book.
    That means you can download and read your books on any Kindle device you own as long you’ve registered each device to the account where your Kindle library is stored.”

    I’ll post here if there are any problems :-).

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *