Where’s the com­pen­sa­tion for lost lug­gage from Ibe­ria?

South Florida Sun-Sentinel (Sunday) - - Travel - By Christo­pher El­liott Christo­pher El­liott is the om­buds­man for Na­tional Geo­graphic Trav­eler mag­a­zine and the au­thor of “How to Be the World’s Smartest Trav­eler.” You can read more travel tips on his blog, el­liott.org, or email him at [email protected]­liott.org.

Q: Last sum­mer, my wife and I flew from Madrid to Mu­nich on Ibe­ria Air­lines. The air­line lost two of our bags.

We filed a lost lug­gage claim, and af­ter many, many calls from Ger­many to Ibe­ria’s cus­tomer ser­vice of­fice in Lon­don, the air­line de­liv­ered one of our small checked bags five days later. It found my wife’s larger bag and de­liv­ered it eight days af­ter we ar­rived.

We sent re­ceipts for items pur­chased by my wife since she had no toi­letries and only the clothes she was wear­ing when she ar­rived in Mu­nich. We also sent a reg­is­tered let­ter to Ibe­ria’s cus­tomer ex­pe­ri­ence man­ager in Madrid re­quest­ing $495 in com­pen­sa­tion for the items she had to pur­chase.

To this date, the man­ager we con­tacted has not re­sponded, but Ibe­ria’s Lon­don of­fice has de­nied the claim, say­ing there is “miss­ing in­for­ma­tion” on the sheet. In­stead of cov­er­ing our costs and pay­ing us

$495, Ibe­ria is send­ing us

$162. It’s Ibe­ria’s fi­nal of­fer.

I would like you to get some­one to re­solve this claim, if pos­si­ble. We have dou­ble-checked all our re­ceipts, and they are all clear and leg­i­ble. My wife even made a sep­a­rate list with each item pur­chased and the cost.

— Bene­dict Valenti, Boyn­ton Beach, Fla.

A: I’m sorry about your de­layed lug­gage. Ibe­ria should have de­liv­ered your wife’s bags to her in Mu­nich when she ar­rived. Not five days later and not eight days later. (But it could be worse — re­mem­ber last week’s case, where the air­line lost a reader’s bag per­ma­nently?)

No one dis­putes the loss, the de­lay nor the fact that your wife had ex­penses for cloth­ing and toi­letries. But ac­cord­ing to the doc­u­men­ta­tion you pro­vided, Ibe­ria thinks your wife only ran up a tab of $162. Hmm, $162 for a week’s worth of cloth­ing and toi­letries? (Have they ever been to Ger­many?)

A look at the re­ceipts you sent to Ibe­ria sug­gests that ev­ery­thing was doc­u­mented. If I didn’t know any bet­ter, I’d say some­one in the main of­fice is just deny­ing your wife’s re­fund re­quests on a line-by-line ba­sis, and on a whim.

The fix? Send a brief email to one of the Ibe­ria ex­ec­u­tives. I also list the man­agers at In­ter­na­tional Air­lines Group, Ibe­ria’s par­ent com­pany, on my con­sumer-ad­vo­cacy site.

When an air­line loses your lug­gage but even­tu­ally re­cov­ers it, the air­line has more flex­i­bil­ity on com­pen­sa­tion. So Ibe­ria could have told you to take it or leave it. A closer look at your claim sug­gested that while you pre­sented the re­ceipts, you also could have in­cluded an item­ized list that ex­plained what your wife had pur­chased. You did, and I shared that new list with Ibe­ria. It cut you a check for the full amount of your claim.

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