How To Make Money On Lost Baggage & Delayed Flights
Have been waiting at the baggage carousel for over an hour and your bags are nowhere in sight? Or, are you stuck midway to your dream destination, thanks to a flight delay? How frustrating it would be to make a detailed plan of your trip only to be met with annoying travel issues like delayed flights and lost baggage!
Don’t let your spirits get dampened. Did you know that you are entitled to get up to 600 EUR on delayed or cancelled flights and up to 1400 EUR on lost or damaged luggage? We didn’t, either! It was an eye-opening conversation we had with Jakub Ladra, CEO of ClaimAir, that got us thinking of our rights as air travellers. ClaimAir is an awesome team of “flight angels” whom you can count on in such unforeseen travel emergencies.
“Most of us, precisely 8 out of 10 people, don’t know that they can get any compensation when airlines mess up,” says Jakub. “In fact, as per rules in the UK, you can claim compensation for delayed/cancelled flights up to 6 years later.” ClaimAir has been dealing with similar cases all around the world since 2014 and is the only startup that helps passengers with baggage mishandling issues.
We spoke to Jakub about what we can do as passengers to claim what is rightfully owed to us in such situations. Excerpts from the conversation:
So, first things first, what should one do when they realise that their bag is delayed?
The usual scenario is that one waits at the baggage carousel and finds that their bags don’t arrive. The first things to do then is to head to the baggage claim desk, which is there in every airport, and file a missing report.
Now, what usually happens in such a case is that they will write down your complaint and tell you that they would get in touch with you when your baggage arrives. But you need to make sure that you get a PIR or a Property Irregularity Report at this point.
The PIR is a unique code which serves as proof that you have filed a complaint and helps you track and communicate with the airline.
Next, the airline should ideally let you know of your rights and guide you through the next steps. However, this step is skipped by almost all airlines. What they don’t tell you is that you are eligible to shop for “necessary items”, like basic hygiene stuff and clothes, to help you get on with your trip. And, the airline has a liability limit of up to 1400 EUR in this case. Put simply, this means that you have the right to shop for what you think is necessary to go on with your trip and the airline should reimburse this amount to you once you produce the bills for the same.
In fact, the airline is liable to deliver the delayed baggage to your doorstep. And, if it happens that you do go pick it up from the airport, you can even claim the cab fare for that trip.
Whoa! How come we don’t know of all this?
(Laughs) Exactly! There’s a lot of information hidden from passengers for obvious reasons. The rights of air passengers are regulated by various air transport conventions and it varies from country to country. Some of these conventions are applicable to over 100 countries. So if you are flying between countries that have signed this convention, then you are covered and are eligible to get compensated for such issues. It doesn’t take much to realize why airlines wouldn’t want you to know this information.
So how do we learn more about these conventions and our rights?
What happens, unfortunately, is that even though this information can be made available for passengers, it is legally drafted and filled with technical jargon. An average person may not be able to decode this completely. This is where ClaimAir comes in. We work with a network of lawyers around the globe to make this process as seamless as possible. We provide the passenger with the necessary information and guide them through the steps they need to take in order to get the maximum possible compensation.
We spoke about delayed baggage, what about lost baggage?
Usually, when baggage is not retrieved within 21 days, it is considered lost. This is the common practice. In this case too, the passenger is eligible to be compensated for necessary items plus the value of the contents of the lost baggage. This means, we need to provide the airlines with an estimate of what the value of the lost items adds up to. The liability limit here is also up to 1400 EUR.
Now the catch, of course, is what these ‘necessary items’ are. This term is not defined anywhere. So it depends from case to case.
We once had a client who had gone for a ski trip and his equipment was lost via transit. In this case, his equipment and winter gear are all necessary items, isn’t it?
So he is eligible to, if not buy, at least rent these equipment. It cost the client over 500 EUR, which is well within the 1400 EUR limit and so, he was compensated.
And what about flight delays?
Hmmm, when it comes to flights, we deal with three situations. One is flight delay, next is cancellation and the third is denied boarding. By now, everyone would be aware of denied boarding, thanks to that unfortunate incident in the United Airlines flight. So if an airline is overbooked and denies you boarding, you are eligible to receive compensation from them.
For flight delays, there needs to be at least a three hour delay in arrival at the final destination to claim compensation.
And, if that is the case, you can get anywhere from 250 EUR to 600 EUR as compensation. This is irrespective of your ticket price. It is a fixed compensation and it only depends on the distance you have flown.
The higher the distance, the more the compensation. Interestingly, you can claim for flight delays and cancellations even up to 6 years after the journey date in the UK. In other places, this period ranges from two to three years.
So in both these cases, what all does the passenger need to produce/retain to ensure that he gets compensated?
The most important point in lost baggage issues is that the passenger keeps the receipts of his purchases of ‘necessary items’ he wishes to be compensated for.
With an app like Wallet, this becomes a cakewalk, because you can track your purchases and even photograph your receipts making sure you have all of it in one place.
It will also help if the payment is made by card, as a card statement will be more credible because it has the name of the passenger as well. But having said this, we have successfully got reimbursements for our clients who have made cash purchases as well. For flight issues, a simple e-mail ticket confirmation is sufficient.
Of course, you may have faced situations where airlines wouldn’t want to pay up. What do you do in such situations?
It is rather funny! If ever you’ve faced a similar situation of lost baggage or flight delay and you write to the airline, their first response will be an offer of some free coupons, a free meal or something similar. This would cost the airline around, say at the maximum, 100 EUR. And, most passengers would be happy accepting these coupons or offers and forget about the issue.
In effect, the airline just saved about 1300 EUR because you were unaware of your rights! Look at the irony of it. If you do write back to them and deny their offer, they would shoot you an email filled with legalese, quoting some regulations and laws, and claiming that they are not liable to compensate you. Only if you threaten them with a court case do most airlines finally agree to pay up. So they try all they can to avoid such a situation from arising.
In case of flight delays, airlines usually always resort to the ‘extraordinary circumstances’ argument.
But what passengers should know is that a technical problem is not an extraordinary circumstance and you can claim compensation for delays or cancellations due to this.
So it’s like a huge maze of rules and regulations which an average passenger may need help with.
How long does it take, on an average, to get paid?
Our average processing time is 11 weeks. The fastest we have resolved a case is in 3 days. Some cases go to court and can take months. So it varies from case to case.
Can you tell us about a really challenging case that you have worked on?
Every day and every case is a new challenge for us. It is so interesting as no two cases are the same. For instance, we had a client whose flight was delayed exactly 3 hours and the airline claimed that it was delayed only 2 hours and 58 minutes. At this point, a normal traveller would give up in this case, because he/she would feel that there’s no way out. But we are aware of the judgements and regulations in connection to this and it says that the flight delay is counted from the time that the first door of the aircraft opens. Fortunately for us, our client had taken a photograph from inside the aircraft, which has a time stamp on it. So we’re guessing this would help us a great deal to establish the exact delay time. This is still an ongoing case in the court.
At what point of their trip do you suggest that passengers use ClaimAir?
We have developed ClaimAir as an automated platform. So it is more or less a pre-emptive service and we want to help travellers even before something bad happens. I suggest that you register your trip with us as soon as you have details of your itinerary. We will monitor the flights and inform you if there are possibilities of such a situation. And, in the case that something like this crops up, we will guide you through it and get you the maximum possible compensation. It is your hard-earned money and we want you to be able to retrieve whatever you are legally entitled to.
Over to you…
So no more tears or stress on lost baggage or delayed flights. Get in touch with these flight angels and get paid what you are legally entitled to. And, while you’re at it, look out for all your old tickets as well because you can claim for flights up to 6 years ago.
Maybe you’re eligible for more than what you think!