The obligations of air carriers in the event of delay, loss or destruction of baggage are governed by the Montreal Convention. Pursuant to it, the passenger may claim compensation in the amount of up to 1131 SDR (PLN 565.66 at the average exchange rate of the National Bank of Poland of 13 November, 2012). The current SDR rate is available on the official website of the National Bank of Poland: www.nbp.pl. It should be noted that the amount of 1131 SDR is not a lump sum payment for the affected passenger, but only constitutes the upper limit of the air carrier’s liability in the event of delay, loss or destruction of baggage. Obtaining compensation depends on several important factors. It is the consumer who is required to prove the suffered damage.
Having found your baggage had been lost or damaged:
1) Fill out the baggage Property Irregularity Report at the airport.
2) Submit a complaint within:
7 days from the receipt of damaged baggage;
21 days from the receipt of delayed baggage.
3) Estimate the damage.
If the suitcase is damaged, the airline usually asks for a bill for the purchase of a new one and reimburses the costs.
In case of lost baggage, when it is difficult to estimate the full value of lost items, it is worth attaching the bills to the complaint. If you do not have them, consider that the airline will calculate the amount of damage according to the weight of the registered baggage.
Laptops, jewellery, sports equipment and other valuables
The airlines have transport regulations which exclude the air carrier’s liability for valuable items put into baggage. Before departure, read the terms of transport and ask the carrier about the possibility of securing valuable items.
IF A CARRIER FROM ANOTHER EU COUNTRY HAS NOT RECOGNIZED COMPLAINTS, SUBMIT A COMPLAINT TO THE EUROPEAN CONSUMER CENTRE.
Problems with cancellation or delay/denied boarding
The consumer travelling with airlines from/to any EU/EEA/Switzerland country is protected by EC Regulation 261/2004 of 11 February, 2004, establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding and cancellation or long delay of flight. The regulation applies:
– to passengers departing from an airport located in the territory of an EU/EEA Member State or in the territory of Switzerland;
– to passengers departing from an airport located in a third country and landing at an airport located in the territory of an EU/EEA Member State or in Switzerland, unless they have received benefits or compensation and were provided with care in a third country and if the air carrier operating the flight is from an EU/EEA Member State or from Switzerland.
If the flight is delayed, the air carrier will be obliged to provide passengers with free meals and drinks in quantities adequate to the waiting time as well as the possibility of conducting two telephone conversations, sending two teletypes, two fax or e-mail items. It depends on the delay length or the flight distance:
– if the delay is at least 5 hours, passengers will be entitled to a refund of the cost of tickets or return flight to the first place of departure;
– if there is a need to stay for one or more nights due to a flight delay, passengers will be entitled to free hotel accommodation and free transport between the airport and hotel.
If passengers arrive at their final destination at least 3 hours after the air carrier’s originally estimated arrival time, they will be entitled to compensation from EUR 250 to EUR 600 depending on the range of travel (based on the judgement of 19 November, 2009, of the Court of Justice of the EU in Joined Cases C-402/07 and C-432/07*).
* Prior to issuing the above judgement, compensation due under Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 was only available in the event of a cancelled flight.
Currently, a passenger may claim compensation for a cancelled or delayed flight of more than 3 hours, unless the carrier is able to prove that the cancellation or long delay of a flight was caused by extraordinary circumstances that could not have been avoided despite all reasonable measures had been taken (so-called force majeure, e.g. strike or volcanic eruption).
If a flight is cancelled, the passenger will have the right to:
– have the ticket costs reimbursed;
– be offered another flight to the destination of travel;
– meal, drinks and phone conversation, if the waiting time for another flight justifies it.
In addition, passengers may be entitled to compensation in the amount of EUR 250 to EUR 600 (depending on the range of travel), if the offered replaced flight differs significantly from the cancelled one and the cancellation notification was too late.
In case of problems with denied boarding, cancellation or long delay of flight, please contact the Passenger Rights Protection Commission operating at the Civil Aviation Office as part of the NEB-NET (National Enforcement Bodies) Network. The NEB-NET is the network of authorities responsible for implementing the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 261/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 February, 2004, establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding or cancellation or long delay of flights.
Regulation EC 261/2004 of 11 February, 2004, establishing common rules on compensation and assistance to passengers in the event of denied boarding or cancellation or long delay of flights, repealing Regulation (EEC) no. 295/91.
European Commission poster: Air passenger rights
What is worth remembering?
1. If you purchase tickets via the Internet, you will not be entitled to withdraw from the agreement, as is usually the case for distance agreements.
2. Carefully check the offers of air carriers that often advertise attractive flight prices to attract passengers, but do not include other costs, such as high airport, fuel or handling charges.
3. Before departure, it is worth getting information about the destination airport because it may turn out that the distance from the airport to the destination is so large (even several dozen kilometres) that it will require additional expenses for a bus, train or taxi.
4. Airport charges may vary for different air carriers. If the air carrier fails and offers to fly with other airlines that have higher charges, you may demand compensation for losses.
5. Hand baggage may not contain, inter alia, sharp items (e.g. scissors, penknives), gases (except deodorants), spirit, firearms, and poison. There have also been applied significant restrictions on fluid transport since November 2006.
6. Tags with the name, surname and exact address (also the country of living) placed inside and outside the baggage make it easier to recover it in case of loss.
7. Low-cost offers generally do not include meals; snacks and drinks on board are paid separately.
More information on the website of the European Consumer Centre