American Airlines sent out a memo to all of its agents reminding them about all of the reasons they should use to deny or limit passenger claims for delayed, lost or damaged luggage, especially after international trips.
The Montreal Convention creates a maximum liability for an airline for all personal belongings on an international trip (including both checked bags and carry on bags). That’s 1288 ‘Special Drawing Rights‘ which are a made up currency that equals ~ US$1,821.
- American wants all agents to know that this maximum amount isn’t automatic, but must be proven by the customer
- And there are lots of reasons they can use to deny claims.
Let’s say you had cash in your bag that was lost. You can’t just list the cash. And an ATM receipt proves you took the cash out of the bank, not that it was in the suitcase.
Damaged sports equipment in a soft-sided bag is never covered,
Due to their size and nature, most sports items and musical instruments are easily damaged. The item is not suitably packed if it is in a soft-side case. If the soft-side bag and item inside are damaged, only cover the damage to the bag.
Agents can also deny a claim for any damaged fragile item without suitable packaging or padding inside of a suitcase.
And interline bags create a separate opportunity to deny liability. While the last carrier on an itinerary is generally responsible for its delivery, agents should check if any of the claimed items were accepted by the original airline with which the bag was checked but aren’t permitted to be checked under American Airlines rules. Say you checked a hoverboard with a foreign airline and connected onto America, and the hoverboard was damaged. American doesn’t accept hoverboards in checked baggage, so wouldn’t pay out a claim.
If the item is perishable, deny the claim. If the item wasn’t sufficiently packaged, deny the claim. If damage could have been caused by other items inside the luggage when it’s tossed about, deny the claim. If the bag was overpacked, deny the claim. Wear and tear isn’t covered either.
And while American will only accept liability for sports equipment if it’s packed in hard sided luggage, they’ll deny liability for damage to that equipment if the outside of the luggage doesn’t show damage.
This is all probably right, of course, but it’s more important to train agents and baggage handlers on proper care for luggage to minimize damage to the items entrusted to them. This was United Airlines:
Instead, passenger luggage should be treated with great care!
— Heathrow Airport (@HeathrowAirport) September 25, 2019