DEAR TRAVEL TROUBLESHOOTING: I was flying from Porto, Portugal, to Madrid, on Iberia. The airline damaged my checked baggage, an upright soft-sided bag, tearing off a side corner.
I filed a claim for $ 129 in damages. I have provided Iberia with a receipt for the luggage. It’s been over three months, but I haven’t heard from Iberia. Can you help me with my claim?
– Hélène Rosenthal, Bedford, Massachusetts
REPLY: I’m sorry for your damaged baggage. Iberia should have taken better care of your personal belongings. And if he damaged your bag, he should have recognized the problem and fixed it quickly. This is not the case.
Airlines that throw your luggage really annoy me. How difficult can it be to treat your belongings with care? And this is especially true if you pay the airline a baggage fee to transport your things. Go!
Since you were flying within the EU, you were covered by EC 261, the European regulation on the rights of airline passengers. Under EC 261, if your checked baggage is lost, damaged or delayed, the airline is responsible. You are entitled to compensation up to an amount of approximately 1,300 euros. But if an “inherent defect” caused the damage, you are not entitled to any compensation.
Unfortunately, the EC 261 does not give the airline a firm deadline. But I think we can all agree that three months is long enough to wait for an airline to respond.
You could have contacted one of Iberia’s executive contacts. I list the names, numbers and email addresses of Ibera officials on my consumer advocacy site at www.elliott.org/company-contacts/iberia-airlines/.
You can also contact the regulator of airlines of EU member states through the European Consumer Centers network at https://ec.europa.eu/. Like the US Department of Transportation, these government organizations have the power to light a figurative fire under an airline like Iberia, and they often do.
I know what you are thinking, dear readers. What about the pandemic? Shouldn’t we be giving Iberia a bit of slack on deferred repayment? After all, the airline industry has suffered so much. But this damaged baggage incident happened before the pandemic, so the pandemic is not a valid excuse, I’m afraid.
Why do airlines drag their wings over a damaged suitcase like this? Because they can. There is no regulatory body that controls the complaints process. If passengers give up and leave, that’s one less claim an airline like Iberia has to pay.
I contacted Iberia on your behalf, and they processed your request in full.