Vueling Airlines loses Nick Gencev’s luggage on a flight in Spain. Complaints to the airline yield canned responses but no action. Can our advocates help?
Question: This is absolutely ridiculous! It has been nine days since Vueling lost my luggage on a flight from Barcelona to Ibiza. Their customer service has been poor, and the information has been sparse. I was only in Ibiza for a couple of days and then left for Málaga.
The inconvenience nearly ruined my stay as I was constantly worried about getting my personal belongings back. I want my baggage fee refunded and expect full compensation for the over $1,000 of personal belongings if my luggage is not returned soon. Can you help? — Nick Gencev, San Diego
Answer: When you got to Ibiza and realized your luggage didn’t make it, you did all the right things from Vueling’s perspective: You reported it right away, called the airline and even went back to the airport twice to try to get information.
After that, you sent emails to Vueling, messaged them on Twitter, and contacted them on Facebook. What you got back read more like boilerplate replies stalling you, instead of real information or help.
Vueling is a Spanish low-cost airline. This isn’t the first complaint we’ve received about lost luggage on the Barcelona to Ibiza route and the poor response on the airline’s part.
You tried to follow their instructions. As part of the communication exchange, you informed them that the online tracking system they wanted you to use wasn’t working and again asked for an update on your baggage. Their canned reply to that note must have been especially annoying:
In response to your message expressing dissatisfaction with services received from our company. We sincerely regret any problems you have experienced due to your baggage incident. We assure you that this is not the type of service that our company wishes to offer. Comments like the one you have sent are what help us to do a better job, so we thank you for taking the time to let us hear your opinion.
Rather than putting up with the email runaround, you could have written to one of the airline’s executive contacts in the company contacts section of our website.
It’s useful to know that since this was an international trip, the airline’s liability for lost or delayed checked baggage is governed by the rules of the Montreal Convention.
You can read how Vueling applies those rules as part of the company’s conditions of carriage.
In that document, paragraph 8.7 says:
“VUELING shall be liable in cases of destruction, loss, delay or damage to luggage, up to a sum of 1,131 Special Drawing Rights per passenger.”
You’ll notice that the compensation is defined in Special Drawing Rights (SDRs), an international reserve asset created by the International Monetary Fund and based on a basket of currencies. At recent exchange rates, Vueling’s maximum liability would convert to about $1,579.
After nine days of getting nowhere with Vueling and getting by without your luggage, you came to us and one of our advocates contacted the airline on your behalf.
The day after we reached out to them, you let us know that you got a text from Vueling that they had found your luggage and would be putting it on a flight to San Diego the next day. You thought it was coincidental that the airline contacted you a few hours after our advocate contacted them.
We don’t believe that Vueling finally responding to you was a coincidence at all.
You subsequently wrote to let us know that you finally received your luggage 12 days after your flight and that we could close out your case.