British Airways lost my luggage for six days. I deserve full compensation.


Susan Spiewak had the not-uncommon experience of having her delayed baggage fail to follow her properly on a recent trip to the British Isles. Fortunately British Airways did not lose the luggage. It only failed to forward it properly in advance per her itinerary, despite many wasted minutes on the phone.

Question: I would like to make contact with someone higher up in the British Airways (BA) organization concerning the loss of my luggage lost for six days in the British Isles. Not only was that experience completely unsatisfactory (waiting on hold endlessly each day to update my current location and then having it delivered to the wrong city), but the airline lost the form receipts for purchases made during that time.

After my return to the U.S., I emailed a list of clothing and sundries needed during those six days, and have only been partially reimbursed. The request for reimbursement was $262, but reimbursement was $239. When I contacted British Airways about the discrepancy and mentioned the postage necessary to send them the original form, they sent a check for $9, and they still have not responded to my inquiry as to the $23 shortage. — Susan Spiewak, Green Valley, Ariz.

Answer: You certainly deserve compensation for expenses incurred from the loss of baggage, both under British Airways policies and an international agreement called the Montreal Convention. More on that later.


Our company contacts should provide most travelers with helpful information. Our recommendation: Start at the bottom with a brief, neutral summary of the issue followed by a clear request for resolution. If there is no reply within ten to 14 days, escalate to the next higher listing.

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The Montreal Convention is an agreement on airline responsibilities for international air travel. It requires airlines to fully compensate travelers for the cost of replacement items purchased until the baggage is delivered, with a $1,521 limit. But are you aware that most airlines will not reimburse the cost of undergarments or cosmetics?

You mention that BA lost the receipts you submitted. We expect that you kept copies against this too-common occurrence. However, while you say an additional $23 is satisfactory, are you really owed more dollars or fewer? The valuation varies second-by-second because of volatility since the Brexit vote.

For additional information, our site lists scores of similar cases archived at our forum. And then there is How To Be The World’s Smartest Traveler by Chris Elliott. Seasoned airline employees anecdotally have run for coffee upon spotting the book, but those reports remain unconfirmed.

Your polite persistence paid off, and in her last message to British Airways you mentioned contacting our advocates.

“The following day I received an email confirming that the remaining $23 would be arriving in five business days,” you write. “Mentioning your column definitely got their attention.”


Dan Church

I'm a retired publicist and news executive who now collects and restores mid-1800-century houses. Two editorials that I wrote earned a Pulitzer Prize ... for my editor.

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