Setting: Christmas 2014 in a modern superhero setting (thing DCTV or MCU pre-AOU)
Search Terms: "lost checked carry on," "lost luggage" "delayed luggage," "checked carry on" "return lost luggage to origin" "lost luggage policy," "checked baggage reimbursement", "how long delayed baggage"
Search Terms for Secondary Issue: "temporary custody" "runaway law" "michigan runaway law" "new york runaway law"
TLDR: I've figured out how to strand my teenage character without clothes on an emergency holiday trip to a relative's, but I've never flown and am not sure where the missing bags will turn up. I need them to go back to the origin, not the destination, or to reach the destination in 24-36 hours but the minor not to show up to claim them until reaching the airport 36 hours later. I also have some tentative conclusions about the custody situation with the kid that I need rubberstamped.
Scenario: I have a 17-year-old AMAB nonbinary character, let's call them M, who attends a high school in NYC and lives with their gay brother C. C is attacked and his family threatened, and so from his hospital bed he directs a few friends to take M home to pack a bag and books M a flight to stay with their only living relatives, an estranged Uncle and Aunt in Detroit. M packs a carry-on, which is checked due to late boarding and full overheads, and travels from Newark to Detroit after a layover in either Orlando or Atlanta. The luggage doesn't make it to Detroit.
To make a long story short, Uncle is a homophobic, transphobic bigot who only accepted M for the holidays to get revenge on C. Uncle uses the baggage issue to force M to go shopping for clothes that conform to M's assigned sex, and subjects M to a string of humiliating draconic rules and torments, toward that end. None of what Uncle does is strictly illegal, but one is to my understanding iffy enough it could go to court: M has severe skin problems including allergies, and Uncle not only disregards M's concerns about his detergent, but threatens to throw M out in the snow if he catches M sleeping on the floor after M has begun to develop a visible allergic reaction. Uncle's theft of M's phone (via the ruse of "We put our phones in the basket at dinner" and a refusal to return it) is the straw that breaks the camel's back. M calls his 20-something friend S and her boyfriend G to rescue them.
S and G are nationally known, pro-police Superheroes, and S is also the closest thing to a maternal figure M has. S and M met while responding to the same emergency in NYC (M has a weak, non-combat superpower). S also has family in Michigan, and is in town at the same time as M, but returning to NYC two days after S arrives in Detroit. M calls S, and S she conference calls with M and her lawyer. All the research I have done suggests said lawyer would advise the child to call the police and report the theft of the phone while S&G drive to Detroit to pick the kid up. In the absence of court-ordered or notarized paperwork from C authorizing Aunt and Uncle as temporary guardians, and with Michigan Runaway Laws declining to return a 17-year-old unless they are unsafe or there's a court order, the police should decline to return a freezing, frightened teenager covered in an allergic rash to an estranged uncle shouting homophobic and transphobic slurs in the street at Christmas, and may cooperate in getting the phone returned to C. I also believe the police would, in light of Uncle's standing in the community, Detroit's general history of corruption, and S and M explaining how they'll treat the rash at home practically in unison, the police would decline to press child endangerment chargers against Uncle OR force M to go to the hospital. From there, S and her lawyer can contact C and make arrangements to get M home, to stay with S&G until the threat against C's family is resolved.
My main issue is, if M's lost bag goes back to Aunt and Uncle in Detroit, M will never get it back. It would be helpful storywise if they eventually got it. If M reports the bag stolen, will it be sent to Detroit or Newark? If it's sent to Detroit and it was delayed because of a tight layover, would it arrive by the next day, or the day after? Could the evil Uncle prevent M from finding out about the missing bags when they come in, but S&G find a way to help them pick the bags up when they head to DTW to fly back to New York? How worried do I need to be about Aunt and Uncle, delayed luggage reimbursement, and fraud claims?
From the custody point of view, does what I have make sense given Michigan law? Would the police permit the child to go with two unrelated adults with a reputation for protecting children and a long personal history with the kid? And if so, would they insist charges be filed against the uncle or a hospital trip be made with the teenager?
Thanks for your help.