Fliers el­i­gi­ble for lost bag­gage com­pen­sa­tion

Here is how you can claim com­pen­sa­tion from an air­line for lost or dam­aged lug­gage and de­layed flights

Times of Oman - - OMAN -

MADIHA ASIF [email protected]­so­fo­man.com

MUS­CAT: Res­i­dents, cit­i­zens and tourists who are faced with lost and dam­aged bag­gage or flight de­lays that are the fault of the air­line, whether they are trav­el­ling to or from Oman are el­i­gi­ble for com­pen­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to the laws of the Sul­tanate.

In a se­ries of ar­ti­cles about Oman’s rules and reg­u­la­tions, en­ti­tled “Know Oman”, ex­perts guide read­ers on their rights and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties while work­ing and liv­ing in Oman.

Speak­ing ex­clu­sively to Times of Oman, rep­re­sen­ta­tive of Al Faqih & Co., one of the lead­ing law firms in Oman, ex­plained how to go about de­layed flights and lost lug­gage claims against air­lines.

Re­gard­ing lost or dam­aged lug­gage, Yasin Chowd­hury, Part­ner and Head of Cor­po­rate Ad­vi­sory at Al Faqih & Co., said that air car­ri­ers are re­spon­si­ble in the event that lug­gage goes miss­ing or gets dam­aged.

“Ar­ti­cle 203 states that a car­rier by air will be li­able for the loss or dam­age of goods or lug­gage. It will also in­clude any pe­riod in which the lug­gage and goods are in the cus­tody of the car­rier dur­ing the flight or while the air­craft is at the air­port or at any other place where it has landed.”

“How­ever, per­sonal items, in­clud­ing hand lug­gage, are not the re­spon­si­bil­ity of any air­line un­less the pas­sen­ger es­tab­lishes fault on the part of the car­rier or its sub­or­di­nates,” Chowd­hury said.

Fur­ther­more, the ex­pert said that the pas­sen­ger could claim up to OMR10 per kilo­gramme for dam­aged or lost lug­gage, and could even get a full re­fund if he/she has de­clared the items/ goods and paid an ad­di­tional amount if re­quired by the air­line for the de­clared goods at the time of check­ing in.

“The claim for detri­ment caused to per­sonal items in the cus­tody of pas­sen­gers by the air­line or its sub­or­di­nates is capped at OMR200. Thus, it is al­ways a good prac­tice for pas­sen­gers to de­clare if they carry im­por­tant or ex­pen­sive items in their lug­gage or in their cus­tody,” Chowd­hury ad­vised.

“It is im­por­tant to note that the Omani do­mes­tic law will be ap­pli­ca­ble to all do­mes­tic flights, whereas the pro­vi­sions of the Mon­treal Con­ven­tion will be ap­pli­ca­ble to all in­ter­na­tional ones,” he added.

‘Time is the essence’

Re­gard­ing fil­ing a com­plaint, the ex­pert said that time is the essence for a suc­cess­ful com­pen­sa­tion claim against air­lines and of­ten it is ob­served that such claims fall short merely be­cause of fail­ure on the part of pas­sen­gers to take prompt ac­tion.

“Un­der Ar­ti­cle 213, in case of dam­aged lug­gage, a protest should be reg­is­tered at the ear­li­est op­por­tu­nity upon the dis­cov­ery of dam­aged goods – in prac­tice, it is done by fil­ing a Prop­erty Ir­reg­u­lar­ity Re­port (PIR) at the air­line desk upon ar­rival.”

“The max­i­mum time al­lowed by law for lodg­ing a com­plaint is 14 days from the date of de­liv­ery of the goods in ques­tion and within 21 days from the date of hand­ing over the goods to air­lines in case of a de­layed de­liv­ery of the goods,” Chowd­hury said.

Fur­ther­more, the law of lim­i­ta­tion bars a per­son from fil­ing a suit in court for a claim of com­pen­sa­tion con­cern­ing dam­aged lug­gage or a de­layed flight af­ter two years, he added.

“Re­gard­ing in­ter­na­tional flights, the Mon­treal Con­ven­tion would ap­ply. For ex­am­ple, if a pas­sen­ger trav­els from Salalah to Lon­don, with a stopover in Mus­cat, as part of a con­tin­u­ous voy­age, the Mon­treal Con­ven­tion will like­wise ap­ply to the SalalahMus­cat flight. The Con­ven­tion also stands on an al­most sim­i­lar kind of premises as de­scribed above in terms of pro­vid­ing com­pen­sa­tion for claims against air­lines,” said the law ex­pert.

Li­a­bil­ity of air­lines

More­over, many a times, a pas­sen­ger is con­fused over whether an air­line would be held li­able for the de­lay but it is to be noted that all flight de­lays do not qual­ify for com­pen­sa­tion.

“Ar­ti­cle 205 of the Law of Com­merce pro­vides that an air­line will be ab­solved from li­a­bil­ity if it can prove that it had taken all the mea­sures nec­es­sary to avert the detri­ment, or that it was im­pos­si­ble for it to have pre­vented the de­lay. If the air­line pro­vides food and drinks ap­pro­pri­ate to the time of day, for ex­am­ple, a food voucher, and a means of com­mu­ni­cat­ing your de­lay to your per­son con­cerned or a re­fund of the cost of es­sen­tial calls or ho­tel ac­com­mo­da­tion for the de­lay and trans­port, air­lines may rea­son­ably claim to have taken all the mea­sures nec­es­sary to avert the detri­ment,” the ex­pert said.

Like­wise, de­lays aris­ing from and caused by ex­ten­u­at­ing cir­cum­stances, such as in­clement weather or air traf­fic, can­not be rea­son­ably at­trib­uted to the car­rier. “In these sce­nar­ios, be­cause it is im­pos­si­ble for the air­line to have mit­i­gated the causes for the de­lay, the air­line would not or­di­nar­ily be held legally re­spon­si­ble in these cir­cum­stances.”

Al Faqih & Co. (con­[email protected]­faqih.co) is a premier com­mer­cial law firm based in Mus­cat con­sist­ing of bar­ris­ters, con­sul­tants, and ad­vo­cates with vast ex­pe­ri­ence in cor­po­rate and com­mer­cial prac­tice, in­clud­ing labour and em­ploy­ment law in Oman.

Yasin Chowd­hury, Part­ner and Head of Cor­po­rate Ad­vi­sory at Al Faqih & Co.

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