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I read with interest the Smart Traveller article in the December 2018 edition on lost luggage
Jenni Reid suggests that if you cannot resolve issues with the airline, that you can try to resolve your claim through the small claims court.
My own experience with British Airways would prevent me from ever doing this again.
On arriving in Buenos Aires from a connecting BA flight at Madrid, with onward flights with Iberia, 2 out of 3 checked cases did not arrive.
After checking my boarding passes, and noticing only one attached baggage tag, it became apparent that only on case had been tagged and that the other two cases had been sent down the baggage chute without being baggage tags.
After a week of chasing British Airways and Iberia, and endless false and inaccurate information in respect of where the bags were, one bag arrived a few days later and the second bag arrived 1 week late on the baggage belt at Mendoza Airport, while British Airways insisted the bag was in Madrid.
There were no original bag tags attached to the cases when they arrived – just replacement tags dated the days they were finally sent. It became apparent the untagged bags had sat for some time in Terminal 5 at Heathrow
By this time, having been to Patagonia and having to purchase cold weather clothing for my wife and daughter, and spending over £400 on telephone calls, I was around £2000 out of pocket.
On our return to the UK, I started to make a claim, submitting all receipts and proof of expenses.
British Airways responded by offering a maximum of around £1200 as set out by the Montreal Convention.
As I was convinced that the British AIrways check in person was negligent and did not carry out a due care and attention, I refused their offer a I saw no reason why I should be out of pocket £800.
I issued count court proceedings against British Airways, at which point they responded through a firm of well know Aviation lawyers who bombarded me with case law and precedent of other claimants who went to court.
Convinced that I had a valid case, I still went to court where I was told that when you check in your bags, you agree to the airlines terms and conditions to therefore be bound by the Montreal Convention rules.
I ended up paying for the lawyers court attendance British Airways costs.
Eventually I took the original offer from British Airways but the whole experience left me around £1500 out of pocket.
I vowed then, never to sue an airline ever again.10 Jan 2019
I have made small claims against a couple of UK airlines, mostly because they were dragging their feet on EU261 claims. And I knew these were valid claims.
I had an Avis booking made via BA in November last year. The local agent added the additional driver charge despite that being the biggest benefit of booking via BA. I emailed Avis about a refund in November and just before Christmas I informed them of my intention to make a small claim first week in January. I actually had the moneyclaims online site open when an apologetic email appeared from Avis offering a refund of the erroneous charge.
I personally wouldn’t have resorted to the courts for this particular situation and accepted the £1200 from BA. I would have expected my travel insurance to cover lost/delayed baggage – did you have any travel insurance with this cover?
Nonetheless, you fought for what you believed in and had your ‘day in court’ and sometimes that’s the most important thing irrespective of whether you win or lose.10 Jan 2019
Sorry to hear that, but thank you for sharing your experience. I’ve never been through the small claims court myself but as you say, it comes with risks, like many legal proceedings. You’d hope that even the threat of it would be enough to prompt a more conciliatory approach from the airline (if the initial complaint had not done so!) but clearly that’s not always the case.10 Jan 2019
As I wrote in a previous thread (about EU261 compensation for a delayed flight) easyJet refused a legitimate claim for several months.
I sent them a “Letter Before Claim” by email, outlining the facts of the claim and the relevant compensation I was claiming, which is necessary before court action, on a Sunday night. A response came by noon the following morning and the correct compensation amount arrived at the bank within a week.
The formal threat of court action can be effective – but not always, of course. I tried this with Ryanair, who accepted the “Letter Before Claim” but advised me that they would apply to have the case transferred to their head office court – in Dublin (I live in London). They played poker better than me ! I took no further action and wrote off a valid 250 Euros claim.10 Jan 2019
I had what I considered to be a valid Eu261 claim against LH. They did everything they possibly could to try to put me off claiming including warning of dire results if I lost the case, they were obstructive, arrogant, and deceitful.
I dug my heels in and was prepared to take the risk. I issued a letter before action and then Small Claims Court proceedings. Their lawyers were incredibly professional towards me, even though I was not their client, but warned me that their top aviation litigation partner would attend court. I said that’s fine, I look forward to meeting him.
A week before the court date, they settled.10 Jan 2019
I use a GPS GEGO baggage tracker. Here though is an interesting You Tube video about a traveller in Australia whose bag was lost and how he found it using an Apple Airtag. I think he was lucky to have been helped by such friendly Swissport/airport staff. I cant imagine turning up at Heathrow and having similar success.
By the way. I do not work for either Apple or GEGO 🙂22 Jun 2022