Alexandra Lovejoy’s luggage is lost on her way to Spain. Iberia offers her 11 euros for the trouble. Is that enough?
Question: I recently was the matron of honor for a wedding in Spain. Iberia lost my luggage for two days, and I had to buy new clothes for the wedding.
I submitted all receipts along with a copy of my passport. I was told that a “tax registration” was required for each store I visited. That’s ludicrous.
After I pushed back, Iberia offered to reimburse me for the sundries purchased at a supermarket for approximately 11 euros. That was the last purchase for which I expected to be reimbursed. I paid by cash and did not have labels for the items I purchased.
I believe this is a ploy on Iberia’s part. Can you persuade Iberia to reimburse me for the items I had to buy when they lost my luggage? — Alexandra Lovejoy, Tewksbury, Mass.
Answer: Iberia should have covered your expenses when it lost your luggage, but just how much of your expenses is something of a gray area. The airline’s responsibility when it loses your luggage are clear under the Montreal Convention and, for that matter, under U.S. Department of Transportation rules.
For misplaced luggage, there seems to be more wiggle room. There’s no requirement that an airline cover all of the clothes you have to buy as the result of the delay. True, the Montreal Convention, which governs luggage liability on your flight, requires airlines to fully compensate you for the cost of replacement items purchased until the baggage is delivered (to a maximum of 1,131 Special Drawing Right, a theoretical currency that has nothing to do with this story). But there’s a loophole: you have to document your purchases.
Often, your compensation is what you can negotiate. And the best time to negotiate anything is at the time of your initial loss.
I might have told the Iberia representative that you had to attend a wedding and asked for a clothing allowance. An authorization like that should be in writing, if possible. Ideally, the representative would hand you the cash necessary to buy a new dress (don’t laugh; I’ve seen it).
After you returned from your trip and submitted your receipts, Iberia did what every other airline does: It did its best to minimize the claim. Remember, by cashing the 11 euro check, you are agreeing that your claim is settled. Pretty tricky, huh?
Appealing this to an Iberia executive might have helped. I list the executive contacts for Iberia on my consumer advocacy site.
We checked with Iberia, and perhaps something got lost in translation with your claim. The airline says it simply needed better documentation for your claim. “We can’t refund any cost which isn’t supported by bills or tickets where the description of the items purchased and other information can be seen,” a representative told me.
Fair enough. So what did Iberia think of your latest claim? Well, they say your documentation was, in fact, enough to process a more generous check. Iberia agreed to reimburse you an additional 155 euro for the clothes you had to buy. And it’s willing to leave your case open in case you can send additional documentation for your wedding clothes.