The good news, from Gunter Strauss’ perspective, is that he landed in Brazil after flying from London Heathrow via Paris CDG to Rio. But he could be happier.
“British Airways is more convenient because it is a direct flight, but their prices are too high,” he wrote. “When we arrived in Rio, we discovered that our luggage had been left behind in Paris and would be sent to Brazil in the next day or two.” Gunter’s bags were “shortly shipped” – the airline’s way of saying to be left behind.
“Usually, when we arrive in Rio, we head straight for our final destination, Pereque, a five-hour drive south in the beautiful rainforest of the Atlantic Ocean. Air France has informed us that they will not be willing to transport our baggage to our destination. We will have to collect it at the Rio airport. The dilemma now is to stay in a hotel in Rio until our luggage arrives or to drive back to Rio once we have confirmation from Air France. This will be a round trip of about 600 km. So my question is: who will pay for the sizable cost and inconvenience, whichever option we choose?”
If there’s any danger of bothering Gunter any further, let me start by saying: I’m not going to start here. Whenever possible, carry only hand luggage – especially when in transit. If I were asked about the most likely loss of baggage during transit, I would predict the short transition between flights at Paris CDG Amsterdam or Frankfurt. But we are where we are, and the baggage is there.
Unfortunately, while European passenger rights rules are clear and stipulating about delays for everyone, your rights when lost baggage are much more opaque. The Civil Aviation Authority says “airlines are liable for your losses”. If your baggage is not delivered within three weeks, it is considered lost forever and your right to compensation is governed by the 1999 Montreal Convention. This limits the airline’s liability. for each passenger for lost baggage up to 1,288 “Special Drawing Rights” (a virtual currency created by the International Monetary Fund and currently valued at around £1,350). But I do not find the legal certainty to reinforce the standard practice among airlines: that they will deliver your luggage wherever you are, whether at home or in resorts. .
On its online complaint form, Air France said: “We apologize for the mishandling of your baggage and understand that this will cause inconvenience to you. Rest assured that we will do all we can to assist you through this experience… We will notify you when your baggage has been received and arrange a convenient delivery time.” But the usual scenario assumes that the deported passenger is fairly close to the destination airport.
Air France has clearly decided that it has no unlimited obligations. This is conceivable if Gunter continues to Antarctica, or perhaps on a cruise ship from Rio. In his situation, I would invite Air France to find someone at the Brazilian airport who could arrange to have the bag delivered on a domestic flight to Florianópolis, less than an hour from his chosen destination. What if the airline refuses? Travel insurance can help pay for incidentals, but if that route fails, Gunter may have to resort to legal action. The Civil Aviation Authority said: “Airlines do not automatically consider themselves liable for losses you incur as a result of your baggage being delayed unless forced by a court of law. do like that.”
However, my best advice to Gunter: consider how necessary that baggage is… Air France will have to pay bills for the essentials (keep all receipts and don’t bewilderment: £200 per person is probably the most you should spend). And then you can reunite with your luggage in Paris.