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Old Oct 10, 2009, 6:05 PM
PHXFlyer PHXFlyer is offline
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,366
Default Government to airlines: limiting lost-luggage compensation “a violation” of regulatio

The Transportation Department has warned airlines against limiting compensation for passengers who purchase necessities because their baggage is lost or delayed. In a notice issued today (October 9, 2009), the government said policies that arbitrarily limit reimbursement are a violation of federal regulations.
“Travelers should not have to pay for toiletries or other necessities while they wait for baggage misplaced by airlines,” Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a prepared statement. “We expect airlines to comply with all of our regulations and will take enforcement action if they do not.”
Old Oct 11, 2009, 7:02 AM
airhead airhead is offline
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My manager used to lie to my face when I asked about such laws when I used to work for AA. She sometimes would do things for some passengers after I told the passengers what I was told totally contradicting what I learned and then looking like an ass in front of the passenger while the manager "took care" of them. I hated that!
Old Oct 11, 2009, 3:08 PM
AirlinesMustPay AirlinesMustPay is offline
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Posts: 143

Airhead, hats off to you for making this admission. Airlines unconscionably cheat passengers in this way. Some say the passenger must be without his luggage for 24 hours before they reimburse expenses, and some say 48 hours. Some put an artificial cap on expenses as $60. Some even say $25.

In November 2007 I was traveling on AA from New York to Port of Spain via Miami. As the flight was arriving in Miami, the pilot said that passengers connecting to Port of Spain should go first to the counter on arrival in Miami for important information about the flight to Port of Spain. At the counter, we met a special line to deal with these passengers, about 40 of us in all on that flight from New York who were on that Miami to Port of Spain flight. There we were told that the airport in Port of Spain was closed because of an Air Traffic controllers strike and they could not fly to Port of Spain that day or very likely the next day either from what the airline was being told. That was a Monday afternoon. I was put on a flight Wednesday Miami to Port of Spain. I telephoned relatives in Port of Spain who confirmed that the airport in Port of Spain was indeed closed because of the ATC problem. So of course the airline can't be faulted for not being able to fly to Port of Spain. In fact no airline was flying to Port of Spain that day. AA gave passengers a distressed passenger voucher to get a hotel room for $62, that was normally priced at $130. So far, fine.

However a number of passengers asked for their bags that had just come in from New York. We were sent downstairs where we were told to wait for the bags. After waiting for an hour and a half, no bags came so an agent re-directed us back to the counter upstairs that had rebooked us.

We were told that the bags were tagged to Port of Spain and not Miami (understandable) and when the flight arrived, baggage handlers had already taken those bags away and secured them for sending them to Port of Spain. The bags would be sent on the first flight to Port of Spain where the passengers would collect them on arrival in Port of Spain even if the passengers arrived on a later flight than their bags. So what were we to do in the meantime? The other passengers appeared to accept this and left. I asked an agent to speak to the supervisor and one Daisy came to me and identified herself as the Supervisor.

What am I to do without my clothes and toiletries for two days, I asked her. There's nothing we can do, she said. The bags have already been secured until they can be sent to Port of Spain, and we don't have the manpower it would need to go back to those bags to get you yours. Will the airline reimburse me for purchase of essential items? Daisy said this was an ATC problem out of the airline's control. It's not our fault. So I told her the ATC problem prevents you from flying to Trinidad, but it does not prevent you from returning my bag to me. Do you know what it would take to go through all the bags to bring you your one bag, she asked. No I don't. I said, "Well I might have to take the airline to Court". With a big broad smile and a shrug of her shoulders she said, "Go right ahead"

So after checking in at my hotel that day, I took a taxi to Walmart and bought all the toiletries and clothes I needed for the two days including: toothpaste and toothbrush, soap, toothbrush holder and soapdish, shaving cream, razor, dental picks, dental floss, antiperspirant, pyjamas, shirts, underwear, T-shirts, bedroom slipper, jeans, socks, handkerchiefs, an adapter for my cellphone. The next morning Tuesday, other stranded passengers told me that the airline had cancelled the Wednesday flights and their first flight out was Thursday. I called the 800 airline number and was told that my Wednesday flight was indeed cancelled and I was put on a flight on Saturday as all earlier flights were full.

I phoned another airline and made a reservation with them to fly to Port of Spain on the Thursday. They would accept my AA ticket, but I would have to get AA to endorse the ticket to them. On Wednesday morning, I went to the airport and told the AA agent at the AA counter that I could get another flight with the other airline on the Thursday, and she indeed endorsed my ticket for use on the other airline.

But on Wednesday I had run out of clean clothes. I took a taxi again to Walmart and bought more shirts, another pair of pyjamas, more underwear as well as a suitcase.

When I got home I wrote to AA customer relations with bills and receipts for over US$400 for purchases in Miami including taxis to and from Walmart twice. They refused to pay anything saying it was an ATC problem. I filed a claim (small claims court), for reimbursement of my items. About a week before the hearing, AA's Attorney wrote to me saying they would pay in full. On the morning of the hearing, the Court made an Order by consent.

Airlines get away with so much that the passengers allow them.
Old Oct 11, 2009, 9:34 PM
AirlinesMustPay AirlinesMustPay is offline
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Originally Posted by AirlinesMustPay View Post
About a week before the hearing, AA's Attorney wrote to me saying they would pay in full.

His initial proposal was that the airline would pay me in full before the date of the hearing, and I would sign a document saying that I would not disclose the details of the settlement, and on the date of the hearing I would withdraw the claim, so the settlement would not be entered in the records of the Court.

I wrote back saying that AA had an opportunity to settle before it reached Court, reminding him that Daisy in Miami had told me to "Go right ahead" to Court, so why did they want confidentiality now? They must have known that when a claim comes up in Court, it is heard before a court room full of people.

I think passengers need to know that small claims courts are available in most jurisdictions. Just go to the Court and you may get help from the clerks there as to how to draw up your claim and their procedures. Most aggrieved passengers just walk away, thinking perhaps the airline is in the right, or thinking the airline will have "big lawyers" or they can't afford the day off from work, etc.

Airlines bank on the fact that passengers will do just that - complain a little and walk away aggrieved. Airlines are quick to cry "weather", "act of God", "Air traffic problems", although often even if there is a problem related to one of these things, there are things in the control of the airline to relieve the passengers distress and I dont mean to just hand the passenger a distressed passenger voucher for a discount room in a hotel.

If you are on an international flight, the Warsaw Convention or one of its amendments will apply. The wording of Article 20 found in the Convention and all its amendments is: "In the carriage of passengers and baggage,and in the case of damage occasioned by delay in the carriage of cargo, the carrier shall not be liable if he proves that he and his servants and agents have taken all necessary measures to avoid the damage or that it was impossible fo them to take such measures."

Courts have been slow to find that efforts of airlines to avoid the damage, have provided them with a defence in this section, even when acts of God and ATC problems are concerned.

Airlines seem content to lie to their own agents who would then refuse to fairly compensate passengers (as Airhead admitted earlier), saying this and that is their policy, but their managers and lawyers know full well what is right and wrong and when taken to Court, the big bad airlines then become meek pussycats, asking you to settle quietly.
Old Oct 13, 2009, 6:37 PM
Jetliner Jetliner is offline
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Join Date: May 2008
Posts: 495

There's a couple parts I don't understand here. First of all, the law states only what the monetary limit is for the airline. There is nothing stating anything about timeframes, etc. Also, you can easily get any airline's contract of carriage (especially now online). Before online you could always have it mailed to you or go to the airport. The law for limit of liability has been around for at least 25 years. Sooooo, why are they just now saying there is a problem?

I'd like to see them try to "enforce" this law, as it's quite vague the way it is written with regards to what he is saying in this notice.

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