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On a recent trip from Mumbai (BOM) to Ottawa (YOW), I encountered a typical traveller’s snag — missing and damaged baggage. Yet, my experience with Air Canada’s delayed baggage claim process was astonishingly swift and positive. I had taken the scenic route on Etihad Business class from BOM to Abu Dhabi (AUH) and London (LHR) and then Air Canada Signature class service to Toronto (YYZ) and finally to YOW. A trip that needed two baggage tags on each of my checked luggage since one baggage tag can display only up to two layovers.
Missing and Delayed Baggage – Mumbai to Ottawa
When we arrived in Ottawa, only one of the checked bags showed up on the baggage carousel. I filed the missing baggage report at YOW for the other bag. The Air Canada agent who filed the report confirmed that the bag was last scanned in YYZ and had missed our flight to Ottawa. Given that ours was the last flight for the day between the two cities, we were told that the bag would be on the first flight the next day and would be delivered to the address on the report. Happy with the report and the confirmation, we made our way home, fully expecting to be reunited with the bag the next day.
The next day came and went, but we never got any notification of our bag arriving in Ottawa. There was no update on the World Tracer Report either, and eventually, I contacted Air Canada’s central baggage office, receiving scripted responses that led nowhere.
I had refrained from making any interim purchases (toiletries and such), assuming we would be reunited with the bag soon. However, Day 3 came by, and we had still not seen any update on the baggage movement from Toronto. At this point, I did go ahead and make purchases for essential items because we were running low on our backup items as well. At the same time, I decided to call the Air Canada Concierge to help me track and deliver our missing bag. The concierge team was fantastic, and they were somewhat surprised that it had taken me three days to connect with them on this issue. The concierge team in Toronto confirmed that the bag was indeed last scanned in YYZ and assured me that they would get a team member to go looking for it and follow up with a callback with an update. Within a few hours of my chat, I received an updated email that the bag was on the next flight to YOW, and a phone call confirmed the same. Promptly, our baggage arrived home on the evening of the fourth day since filing the missing baggage report, but with significant damage to the exterior. The bag had been ripped in multiple places, so there would be no way to use the bag on future travels. Sigh. Thankfully, though, there was no damage to the bag’s contents.
I proceeded to purchase a new suitcase right away. Although the regulations dictate that the replacement purchase should be the same kind and price range, I bought a hard shell case instead of the softshell suitcase. Luckily, I was able to use a sale offer from Monos to replace my Samsonite at a lower price point than what a new Samsonite would have cost.
As for making my claim, I had checked my credit card insurance, only to realize that the card used to purchase that ticket had already been cancelled. So, the insurance coverage from the credit card would not apply in this case. Whoops, that was a travel failure on my part. I decided to submit two separate claims with Air Canada (on August 27) – one for incurring expenses due to delayed/missing baggage and the second to claim the expenses of replacing the damaged baggage.
Delayed Baggage Claim – Air Canada’s swift response
For both claims, I followed the instructions on the Air Canada website. Also, I used the guidelines on the Air Passenger Rights website to help with drafting my message under appropriate Montreal Convention regulations. I submitted detailed receipts with timelines of the events that transpired, along with a brief reasoning of my claim.
Here’s where things took a surprising turn. My claim process with Air Canada was unexpectedly seamless. Upon submission of my claims on the Air Canada website, I promptly received a confirmation from the airline, with a timeline of 5 business days for initial review. To my absolute surprise through, both my claims were reviewed and approved within 24 hours. I received notification (August 28) that the payout for the claim would be released as an e-transfer within 2-4 business days. Sure enough, two days after the notification, the claim amounts were in my bank account!
The lightning speed of the approval took me by surprise as well since I had been reading the tardy timelines several other passengers had experienced in similar circumstances. Here are some key factors that may have influenced the rapid approval:
- Aeroplan Status: My 100k status possibly expedited my claims, hinting at a prioritized “fast lane” for frequent flyers.
- Detailed Documentation: I attached all receipts and provided a clear timeline of events, adhering to the Montreal Convention regulations.
- Reasonable Claiming: I only claimed expenses for essentials purchased during the wait, avoiding inflating the claim towards the maximum allowed limits.
Delayed Baggage Claim – Takeaway
From the despair of loss to the relief of recovery, and finally, to the satisfaction of a resolved claim, this journey with Air Canada was a rollercoaster that ended on a positive note for me. While I understand that this is not the norm, the experience highlights the importance of understanding your rights as a traveller and being genuine in your claim. It’s a reminder that while travel hiccups are inevitable, being prepared and organized in your response can lead to a swift and satisfactory resolution.