Airberlin won’t compensate you for “time and inconvenience,” but will they pay for your missing clothes?

When Timothy Korst’s Airberlin flight arrives in Paris without his baggage, he files a claim for his lost bags. But Airberlin will not offer as much compensation as he wants — including reimbursement for “time and inconvenience.” Is Korst out of luck?

Question: When I flew on Airberlin two years ago from Berlin to Orly Airport in Paris on a flight I booked through CheapOair, two pieces of my baggage didn’t arrive for several days. I was supposed to make a connecting flight to Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, from Charles de Gaulle Airport in Paris, but I missed it because I had to file a missing baggage claim while I was still at Orly Airport. I had to spend another 24 hours at Charles de Gaulle Airport before I was able to take another flight to Riyadh.

One piece of baggage arrived five days after my flight; the other arrived a month later. On both occasions, I had to take a taxi to the airport to collect my baggage.

I forwarded copies of my receipts for the cab rides and for replacements for the contents of the missing baggage to Airberlin, but they responded that they don’t owe me compensation because I made the purchases one day after the first piece of baggage was located and returned to me. I believe that this is incorrect; under the Montreal Convention the second piece of baggage was “lost” because it did not arrive for more than 21 days after the flight.

I would like Airberlin to acknowledge that it lost my baggage and compensate me for my losses, as evidenced by the receipts, for the second piece of baggage that was “lost” according to the Montreal Convention, and for the time I was required to spend trying to resolve this matter. Can you help me get Airberlin to provide this? — Timothy Korst, Canoga Park, Calif.

Answer: It’s certainly inconvenient when airlines lose baggage, take their time about locating it, and then refuse to issue compensation for the losses. And unfortunately, that tends to be par for the course with Airberlin when it comes to lost baggage claims.

You contacted our advocacy team for assistance, relying on the following provision in Airberlin’s general terms and conditions of carriage:

Baggage delays: In the event of baggage delay, the air carrier is liable for damage unless it took all reasonable measures to avoid the damage or it was impossible to take such measures. The liability for baggage delay is limited to 1,131 SDRs [approximately $1,564 as of this writing].

Destruction, loss or damage to baggage: The air carrier is liable for destruction, loss or damage to baggage up to 1,131 SDRs. In the case of checked baggage, it is liable even if not at fault, unless the baggage was already defective in advance. In the case of unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable only if at fault.…

Complaints pertaining to baggage: If the baggage is damaged, delayed, lost, or destroyed, the Passenger must report this to the air carrier in writing as soon as possible. In the event of damage to checked baggage, the Passenger must report this in writing within seven days, and in the case of delay within 21 days, in both cases from the date on which the baggage was placed at the Passenger’s disposal….

Time limit for action: Any action in court to claim damages must be brought within two years from the date of arrival of the aircraft, or from the date on which the aircraft ought to have arrived.

Since your flight took place two years ago, you felt that time was running out to collect reimbursement for your expenses. Our advocates reached out to Airberlin on your behalf.

But there are some problems with your case.

You posted in our forum about your case, where you told our forum members a somewhat different version of events. In the forum, you mentioned that you had your case mediated with the German company Schlichtungsstelle für den Öffentlichen Personenverkehr (SÖP), but that the mediators had dismissed it. In the thread, you accused Airberlin of lying to SÖP about having already reimbursed you about half of your stated claim of $700. You indicated that you asked the mediator for proof that Airberlin had compensated you, but the mediators had to ask Airberlin more than once to reply to the issue and did not provide any proof that Airberlin had paid you the reimbursement.

Another issue with your case is that you requested compensation for lost time and inconvenience, which no airline provides. Airberlin is no exception.

The forum members suggested that you escalate your complaint to higher-level executives of Airberlin using the contact information available on our website.

Also available on our website is executive contact information for CheapOair, a subsidiary of Fareportal. As you booked your flight through CheapOair, you might also have requested its assistance first in recovering your missing baggage and then in seeking reimbursement for your expenses.

You recently notified us that Airberlin credited 353 euros ($395 as of this writing) to your account about a year ago without informing you that it had done so. This amount covered the expenses you provided receipts for, but it was only half the amount of the reimbursement you wanted. Unfortunately, we don’t think you can expect any more than that. We’re sorry.

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