Air travel: Some had to wait months for missing luggage

Air travel: Some had to wait months for missing luggage

Frustrations at Canada’s airports continue to mount as reports of lost and delayed baggage mount, with some passengers spending weeks or even months waiting for their missing checked baggage to catch up with them.

Catherine Roberts and her husband Bob Sales wanted to celebrate their 70th birthday with a European cruise. They flew on May 15 with WestJet and Aer Lingus from Winnipeg to Dublin via Toronto. But after their flight to Toronto was delayed, they had to be rebooked on another connecting flight to Dublin.

Almost 70 days later, Sales still hasn’t gotten his bag back.

And while they had a comfortable time on the cruise ship after purchasing new clothes and underwear for their trip, Sales said the lost luggage was “a black cloud” that appeared over his wife’s head.

“It was terrible. No money will ever replace that,” Sales said Tuesday in a phone interview with CTVNews.ca.

Simon Crimp of Surrey BC, who flew with his son on Air Canada from Vancouver to London, UK via Halifax on June 3, also had his bag nowhere to be found after arriving at Heathrow Airport.

Like Sales, Crimp had to spend the first day of his trip locating his bag and buying spare clothes while losing a valuable day of sightseeing. He didn’t get his bag back until July 12, more than a month after his flight.

“You know, it was very, very frustrating,” Crimp told CTVNews.ca over the phone Wednesday. “The trip was basically screwed up because (Air Canada) lost our bag.”

LACK OF COMMUNICATION

Many passengers who shared stories of missing luggage told CTVNews.ca they were having trouble getting answers from airline staff about where their luggage was and when they could expect it to arrive.

On Canada Day, Dan MacLean’s daughter and his daughter flew WestJet from Regina to Sydney, NS via Calgary and Toronto, only to find his luggage and car seat were nowhere to be found at his final destination. When he asked when his luggage would arrive, he said there was “little to no instruction” from staff.

“On a scale of one to ten, I would give (WestJet’s customer service) a zero,” MacLean told CTVNews.ca over the phone on Tuesday. “Of course the staff were polite. But it was just a massive mess. You asked one person in customer service, you got an answer, and then you told another that the answer was completely wrong. It’s almost like the right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing.”

MacLean’s luggage finally arrived at his home in Saskatchewan 21 days later.

Crimp said he was frustrated at being put on hold for hours while trying to reach Air Canada employees by phone.

“Basically you wait maybe an hour and a half to two hours before you can connect with someone. And then when you connect with someone, they can’t always tell you everything you want to know,” Crimp said.

Sales said had a similar experience. In the days and weeks following the couple’s trip, WestJet staff repeatedly told him and his wife that their luggage would be delivered to them, although it never came.

And for Yasmin Bhaloo, whose oversized luggage went missing after flying Swoop Airlines from Toronto to Orlando-Sanford on June 25, she said it was impossible to reach anyone by phone or even social media.

“There is no one to answer your call. It’s all robo-calling,” she told CTVNews.ca in a phone interview on Wednesday. “I sent them through Instagram, Facebook, through their website. Nothing so far. Isn’t there anyone I can talk to?”

THE FIGHT FOR COMPENSATION

Under the Montreal Convention, airlines around the world are required by law to reimburse travelers for any “reasonable” expenses they incur, such as: B. Intermediate purchases to replace missing clothes and other essentials.

Passengers can claim up to 1,288 Special Drawing Rights, which are the International Monetary Fund’s units of account. This equates to approximately CAD 2,300 per passenger and piece of luggage.

Sales estimates that he and his wife lost around $3,500 between them. Crimp says he also had to spend around $3,000 to buy replacement clothes for him and his son. Both Crimp and Sales have sent their expenses to the airlines and are awaiting feedback.

Crimp said because it’s a Sunday, the only places they could buy clothes were expensive gift shops. “Most normal shops were not open, except for souvenir shops. So we had to pay tourist prices,” he said.

Bhaloo was also reunited with her luggage after almost two weeks. Her missing luggage was a box of snacks that she wanted to give to her family in Florida.

Since her box was lost, she was unable to deliver the snacks to her family and had to ship them. She’s now trying to get Swoop to refund her checked bag fees and shipping costs.

But for MacLean, he said he doesn’t think it’s worth the hassle of asking for compensation because he got his luggage back and he doesn’t have to spend too much on replacement items.

“Fortunately we didn’t have any expensive things. Just clothes and stuff like that,” he said.

In a statement emailed to CTVNews.ca, WestJet said it is “committed to doing everything we can to provide our guests with the WestJet experience they have come to expect from us, and we make every effort to to connect affected guests with their missing luggage”.

“We continue to work with our third-party suppliers to avoid baggage delays and have invested in additional WestJet oversight to support our partners who are responsible for the timely operation and delivery of our baggage services,” wrote WestJet spokeswoman Madison Kruger.

Air Canada told CTVNews.ca the global airline industry continues to experience problems with airport capacity, mechanical issues with baggage systems, as well as problems with “third-party providers of services like passenger screening, customs and flight navigation.”

“All these and other events, such as a severe storm, can disrupt our schedule and the flow of not only passengers, but also their luggage, which moves in a parallel but more complicated stream than the customers,” said Air’s spokesman Canada, Tim Fisher, in an email to CTVNews.ca on Thursday. “We are working hard with aviation ecosystem partners and governments to address these issues.”

CTVNews.ca contacted Swoop Airlines, but the company had not responded as of press time.

If the airline doesn’t respond to your claim or denies your claim, consumer rights group Air Passenger Rights suggests suing the airline in small claims court.

That’s what Sales and his wife intend to do if they don’t get a satisfactory answer.

“I just hope that whenever we’re in court that day, we get a fair hearing and the airlines don’t send their Bay Street lawyers to fight a bunch of 70-year-olds and beat us up,” Sales said .

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