As travelling people, we would like to know what exactly we are entitled to if our bags go missing. There is an international Society and there are rules which all Airlines must abide by and follow.
Baggage rules keep people in check. They serve as guides on acceptable and civil way of doing business and transactions, else chaos takes over – that’s good for no one.
The history of baggage rules
U.N. Conventions, through the International Standards Organisation (ISO), usually hands down the rules on how Aviation companies – even travelers – should conduct themselves. There are two conventions of note for us when it comes to baggage. They are the Warsaw Convention of 1929, which set down the rules originally and The Montreal Convention of 1999 which amended what was said sixty years earlier.
Both has to do with the protection of passengers rights as regards injury and loss or damage of property during carriage by the Airline, as well as compensation.
What are Airlines responsible for?
- Baggage safety: As far as it’s been accepted for transportation and until its delivery to recipient, or transfer to another organization according to rules;
- Loss of baggage accepted for carriage with declared value: In this case, carrier refunds amount of insured value, except if carrier proves that declared value exceeds the actual cost (amount) of the actual value;
- Damage to the baggage: In this case, carrier refunds amount by which baggage price was lowered.
What are Airlines not responsible for?
- Loss of baggage weight without a trace of theft and damage to the package, if bearer of complaint or claim does not prove that lack of baggage was caused by carrier;
- Delay of baggage delivery: Especially when it’s due to circumstances beyond carrier’s control, for example, due to weather conditions;
- Loss of high priority baggage: Such baggage that include money and securities, documents, jewelry and other items that require special storage measures during transportation;
- Now either of the conventions would apply depending on the Airline and which convention it chooses to apply.
The Warsaw Convention
As modified by the Hague Protocol requires that a carrier pay a passenger 17 Special Drawing Rights (approximately EUR 20; US $20) per kg for loss of or damage or delay to checked baggage, and 332 Special Drawing Rights (approximately EUR 400; US $400) for unchecked baggage.
The Montreal Convention
Required in cases of destruction, loss, damage or delay to baggage, 1,131 Special Drawing Rights (approximately EUR 1,200; US $1,800) per passenger in most cases.
For damage occasioned by delay to your journey, 4,694 Special Drawing Rights (approximately EUR 5,000; US $7,500) per passenger in most cases.
Things to remember about Baggage Rules
- Destruction, loss or damage to baggage
The air carrier is liable for destruction, loss or damage to baggage up to 1000 SDRs (approximate amount in local currency).
In the case of checked baggage, it is liable even if not at fault, unless the baggage was defective. In the case of unchecked baggage, the carrier is liable only if at fault.
- Higher limits for baggage
A passenger can benefit from a higher liability limit by making a special declaration at the latest at check-in and by paying a supplementary fee (extra luggage payments, always keep your bag tag).
- Complaints on baggage
If the baggage is damaged, delayed, lost or destroyed, the passenger must write and complain to the air carrier as soon as possible. In the case of damage to checked baggage, the passenger must write and complain 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.
- Airline Interline Agreements
If your journey involves carriage by different carriers, you should contact each carrier for information on the applicable limits of liability.