Airlines 'short change' passengers for lost luggage, watchdog claims

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London, Mar.17 (ANI): A consumer watchdog has claimed that passengers are often awarded compensation of less than a tenth of the value of their possessions when airlines lose their bags. t is estimated that 42 million bags went missing in 2007.

According to the Air Transport Users Council (AUC), companies are shortchanging passengers on the millions of items of luggage damaged or mislaid every year.

"Complaints to the AUC show that passengers often struggle to get reasonable redress from airlines after the event," The Telegraph quoted Tina Tietjen, the council's chairman, as saying.

Up until 2004 the Warsaw Convention governed passengers' rights. It meant a passenger whose bag was lost would receive compensation according to how much it weighed.

This was replaced by the Montreal Convention, which said that airlines were obliged to compensate passengers for how much they either lost or had to pay to replace the missing items.

The Convention also said airlines were liable to pay up to 1,049 pounds in compensation when luggage was "mishandled" - a term used by the aviation industry to cover luggage being lost completely or arriving late.

But in many cases airlines either cut the compensation or will insist on passengers providing receipts for each item among the goods that have been lost. And even when proof of purchase is provided, the airlines will reduce the compensation they are willing to pay because of "depreciation" or "wear and tear".

On other occasions, airlines have also been reluctant to pay passengers all their out of pocket expenses when they have to buy clothes and toiletries when their luggage arrives late. Low-cost airlines in particular impose limits on what they are willing to pay out, with Ryanair - according to the AUC - setting a ceiling of 15 pounds.

The AUC, which tries to mediate between passengers and airlines, has had 2,000 written complaints since the Montreal Convention was implemented.

If mediation fails, passengers are encouraged to pursue claims against the airlines in a small claims court. (ANI)

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