Chaos at airports | Baggage bingo losers can claim

It is always with a certain emotion that we take the plane for the holidays. But this summer adds a good dose of anxiety about delayed flights, even canceled, and those mountains of lost luggage in airports. However, travelers who arrive at their destination without their luggage can take comfort in claiming up to $1,000 from their credit card issuer.

Posted at 5:00 am

When we receive a new Mastercard, Visa, or Amex, we don’t necessarily see the point in reading the insurance certificate that comes with it. One of the good reasons has become clear these days: knowing the compensation that is expected when a trip does not go perfectly.

The insurance offered by credit cards can cover canceled or interrupted trips, theft of personal effects from a hotel room, luggage lost by an airline or “just plain” late. I simply put the word in quotation marks, because it is not as dramatic as a trip to the water for a box of passports never received. But it is not pleasant, besides being slow and expensive.

The least we can do is receive the compensation to which we are entitled.

Because there’s the paperwork to fill out to declare baggage late. And all the time lost to buy some clothes and toilet, when it is not a dress to attend a wedding or a stroller.

Blandine Bois can attest to this. And this, although she never managed to catch the plane that would take her to France. She was eager to introduce her family to her two children for the first time. Her story is shocking.

On June 21, while queuing through security at Montreal-Trudeau with her husband and 3-month-old and 2-year-old daughters, she discovered that Air Canada had mistakenly checked them in on a flight to Nice, instead of Lyon as expected. . Another bad surprise: this flight to Nice was already in heaven!

Not finding an employee who could come up with a plan B when it was almost midnight, the family went to get their bags to go back home to sleep. Air Canada maintained that the luggage could not have left the airport without them. But they had disappeared. Therefore, the trip home was made without a car seat, with the baby in her arms.

After a week, the four suitcases, the stroller and the car seat were still missing. To date, the account is not complete. “Feels like playing bingo for lost luggage […]losing my daughter’s favorite doll is heartbreaking,” says Ms.me Bois, who contacted the airports of Montreal, Nice and Lyon. This allowed her to learn that his stroller had “made some transatlantic trips” for some obscure reason.

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PHOTO PROVIDED BY BLANDINE BOIS

Blandine Bois was due to travel to France at the end of June to introduce her children to her family and attend a wedding with her husband.

“In particular, we bought a stroller and a car seat and two or three other things that are commonly used by the girls, such as glasses and toiletries,” says the mother, who received no money from Air Canada. “We were never told about compensation for delays,” she says. The couple also did not file a complaint with their credit card issuer, not being aware of this possibility.

Cards typically offer $500 or $1,000 per person, when luggage takes more than four or six hours. The amount is not paid automatically. Instead, reimbursement of purchases is offered, upon presentation of invoices, for “essential” products.

Be sure to read the list of non-covered items before you go shopping. For cards issued by the National Bank, for example, cosmetics, glasses, electronic tablets and photographic equipment are not covered. Desjardins specifies that only “toiletries and clothing” are reimbursed. The Scotiabank Visa Infinite Card contract states that charges must be made “no later than 96 hours after the time of arrival at the destination.”

Fortunately, all contracts are available online. These also indicate the procedure to follow to claim what is due.

You must first declare delayed baggage to your airline and complete a Property Irregularity Report (PIR) before contacting your credit card issuer using the number on the back of the card. Then we can do our shopping and after the holidays, we send the invoices, explains Michèle Jobin, Senior Director, Retail Sales, Direct Distribution Channels, at Desjardins. To avoid disputes and disappointments, it’s best to stick to reasonable purchases (sunscreen, makeup remover, toothpaste, affordable clothing).

The notion of essential products is subjective, but Louboutin shoes will be denied to you, launch Mme Jobin laughing.

Interestingly, although we see tons of lonely luggage at airports, Desjardins and the National Bank do not see an increase in claims. Is it because of ignorance?

On the other hand, customers are more likely to call these two financial institutions for information about their travel insurance coverage before they leave. We can see wisdom there, or proof of a perfectly normal insecurity in this abnormal period of summer.

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PHOTO ALAIN ROBERGE, THE PRESS

Airlines must, under the Montreal Convention, compensate their customers after the loss of a suitcase.

Other ways to claim

The conveyor belt turns non-stop, the bags go through, but not yours. And now the merry-go-round stops. Obviously, you will have to leave the airport without luggage. Oh no !

If this happens to you, be aware that airlines are required by the Montreal Convention to compensate their customers. The maximum amount is around $2,300. “This limit applies to most international routes, as well as routes within Canada,” specifies the Air Canada site. Carrier will reimburse “reasonable interim” expenses (which may include renting a bicycle if yours cannot be found) upon receipt of receipts.

Air Transat adds that baggage “is considered lost if it is not found within 21 days from the date it should have been delivered.” Before that, it is a “delay”.

Please note that the claim must be made within 21 days for delayed baggage and within 30 days for loss (21 days for domestic flights).

The problem? “The airline is not obliged to compensate you if it took all reasonable measures to avoid the problem or if it was impossible for it to take these measures”, according to the Air Passenger Protection Regulation (APPR). He admits it’s not too reassuring.

How can we prove, as a traveler, that Air Canada or Air Transat did not take all “reasonable steps” to ensure that our baggage arrived safely and on time? I anticipate some debate on this…

carrier or assuror ?

Since credit card insurance provides compensation, who should be contacted first? you will ask yourself

“Customers are invited to make a request to the airline first. In fact, the insurer can intervene in cases where the latter does not compensate the client for all the costs because of the situation”, replied the spokesman for the National Bank, Alexandre Guay. The same story in BMO where it is said that “the credit card insurer is the second payer”.

However, this information is not included in insurance contracts. And I tried to find out by what mechanism exactly an insurer could know that their client has not yet been reimbursed by the carrier, but I did not get a clear answer.

Is it better to file two claims on the spot to increase your chances of being compensated, even if it means canceling one later if necessary? Hard to say. But given the decline in trust in airlines and the difficulty in communicating with their customer services, we certainly can’t blame a traveler for wanting to stack the odds in their favor.

New public relationsprotection

You can also reduce your stress by buying a new product launched in late June by Montreal-based company Late Flight called Peace of Mind. For $15, this package includes an airline complaint service in case luggage is delayed or lost.

“The client receives 100% of the compensation to which he will be entitled”, it is specified, since Late Flight does not retain any commission. The same does not happen when a claim is made for a canceled or delayed flight, since a 25% commission is withheld on the compensation obtained. In both cases, we take care of everything for you, but it is important to keep the evidence.

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PHOTO MARTIN TREMBLAY, THE PRESS

Jacob Charbonneau, President and CEO of Late Flight

At this time, the Peace of Mind package is only available through selected travel agencies. “Seven out of ten clients take it. Boost is great! “, Agrees Jacob Charbonneau, co-founder and CEO of Late Flight, while assuring that his service actually allows him to receive compensation.

The businessman does not rule out the possibility of selling his product directly to the public, on his website, in one or two years.

By the way, the FICAV, the Compensation Fund for Travel Agency Clients administered by the Consumer Protection Office, does not offer any compensation for baggage problems. On the other hand, travel insurance offers additional, often flexible, protection.

And please note that if you have paid to check your luggage, this amount can be refunded to you in case of loss or damage.

No amount of money will make you forget the contents of your suitcase, but leaving money on the table will only ruin your vacation a little more.

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