Will Air Canada ever finish “reviewing” this lost baggage claim?

Waiting for a Lost baggage claim

A piece of Zahid Mohammad’s baggage went missing on an Air Canada flight. Five months later, Air Canada still hasn’t found it — and its claims department is still “reviewing” his case. Nobody at Air Canada will tell Mohammad when or if the airline will resolve his lost baggage claim. Can our advocates persuade Air Canada to return Mohammad’s missing baggage or compensate him in accordance with the Montreal Convention?

Question:

I traveled from Abu Dhabi to Toronto via Dublin on Air Canada last July. While making the connection in Dublin, the passengers had to deplane the aircraft originally scheduled for the Dublin-to-Toronto leg of my flight because of a technical issue. Air Canada required the passengers to collect their baggage and go through security to the new aircraft.

I rechecked two pieces of baggage in Dublin, one of which never arrived in Toronto. This piece of baggage and its contents were worth 384 Canadian dollars ($300). I filed a lost baggage claim with Air Canada, and at the airline’s request, I provided documentation such as my boarding passes and baggage tags. But Air Canada has not since responded to my claim. I’ve called them several times since then, but the only reply I receive is that “the claims department is reviewing my case.” Nobody at Air Canada will tell me when the claims department will finish reviewing it.

Can you help me get Air Canada to resolve lost baggage claim? — Zahid Mohammad, London, Canada

Answer:

I’m sorry to hear that it’s taken so long for Air Canada to either locate your missing baggage or reimburse you in accordance with the Montreal Convention, an international agreement covering liability for lost and delayed baggage and cargo transported by air.

The Montreal Convention indicates that

If the carrier admits the loss of the checked baggage, or if the checked baggage has not arrived at the expiration of twenty-one days after the date on which it ought to have arrived, the passenger is entitled to enforce against the carrier the rights which flow from the contract of carriage.

What happened to this lost baggage claim?

Air Canada’s International Tariff provides for airline liability of up to 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), about CA$2,484. Its personnel should have acted promptly when you filed the claim, rather than continually responding that they’re “still reviewing your claim” for several months.

The airline’s excuse for sitting on your claim is that you failed to file a completed Baggage Declaration Form within 21 days of the loss of your baggage, and that its staff repeatedly asked you to complete and send this form to its claims department. But we’re puzzled by this, because Air Canada doesn’t deny responsibility for the loss.

You might have escalated your complaint to higher-ranking executives at Air Canada using the contact information on our website, but you turned to our advocacy team instead.

The good news

Our advocacy director, Michelle Couch-Friedman reached out to Air Canada on your behalf. The airline responded that “despite [its] best efforts, your property has not been located.” It, therefore, offered you, “on an exceptional basis only,” CA$223 to settle your claim. This is only a bit more than half the total value of your claim, but you have indicated that you are happy with this resolution.

Is this a fair resolution?

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