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Help! My Lost Luggage Wasn’t Delivered for 12 Days. I Want Restitution.


I wasn’t born yesterday. Elvira Nurbayeva, the Kazakh carrier’s manager for corporate communications, had already passed along documentation from WorldTracer, a world service that works with airlines to trace lost luggage, saying that your bags were left in Newark. The rationale: That you simply “DID NOT CLAIM AND CHECK IN FOR INTL FLT.” This “obviously implies that the passenger must have received luggage on arrival in Newark,” wrote Ms. Nurbayeva. So that you blamed United, United blamed Astana and Astana blamed you.

But once I went back to United with the extra details, things modified. In an announcement, the spokeswoman admitted the luggage had actually been tagged through to Atyrau but weren’t transferred accurately. After which:

“When this happens, we work hard with our interline partners to attach customers with their bags as quickly as possible, including compensation for the delayed bag. We sincerely apologize for the frustration this caused.”

Just days ago, you let me know what happened next: United and Astana agreed to compensate you $3,000, or $1,500 for every mishandled bag.

I’m glad for you, and I believe your argument about United’s stated policy is cheap, but I’m unpersuaded and left uneasy by this decision, because I fear it doesn’t portend the dawn of an era during which airlines make generous payments to everyone suffering over lost luggage.

George Hobica, founding father of the cut price travel site Airfarewatchdog, agreed. He was shocked to listen to that United agreed to pay the complete amount. He suspects the scrutiny of a certain major newspaper can have played a job. Airlines are required to pay you back an affordable amount for items you had to buy, he noted, but you had told me that quantity of things was under $75.

“She is entitled to be compensated for her $75, but not for pain and suffering,” he said. “All of us undergo pain and suffering nowadays.” Legally, Mr. Hobica appears to be on strong ground. The 1999 Montreal Convention, covering international travel and signed by all three countries in your route, states that restitution is due “if the carrier admits the lack of the checked baggage, or if the checked baggage has not arrived on the expiration of 21 days.” (For domestic flights, the Department of Transportation has similar rules, offering leeway for the airlines to make a decision when to declare luggage “lost.”)

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