Lost, damaged and delayed baggage

If you incur expenses as a result of the delayed delivery of your bag or believe that the carrier is liable for the damage to, or the loss of, your bag or any of its contents, you may file a written claim for compensation through your air carrier. Your claim should include an itemized list of your lost or damaged items and their individual values or the specific out-of-pocket expenses incurred to replace or repair any mishandled item.

You may be asked to substantiate your claim for damages. In order to do so, you must present to the carrier the best evidence that you have available in light of the nature and circumstances surrounding your written claim.

All air carriers’ tariffs must set out their liability limits for the transportation of passengers and goods, including the maximum levels of compensation for lost, damaged or delayed baggage.

International travel

The Montreal Convention applies to round trip tickets starting and ending in Canada. For other international travel, limits of liability may be subject to the Montreal Convention, or the Warsaw Convention for countries that have not ratified the Montreal Convention. Both the Warsaw and the Montreal Conventions are incorporated into Canadian law by virtue of the Carriage by Air Act.

Tariffs must reflect the terms of any applicable international convention.

Domestic travel

Although international conventions do not apply to domestic tariffs, the Agency has issued decisions directing specific carriers to apply the provisions of the Montreal Convention to domestic travel to create consistency for travellers.

What are the Montreal and Warsaw Conventions?

The Montreal Convention is an international treaty that establishes uniform rules about the international carriage of passengers, baggage and cargo by air. For instance, the Montreal Convention allows:

  • unlimited liability for damages in the case of accidental death or injury to passengers
  • limited liability of approximately $2,000 per passenger for lost, delayed or damaged baggage

The Montreal Convention came into force in 2003. It consolidated and modernized the rules of the Warsaw Convention of 1929. If a country has not ratified the Montreal Convention, the Warsaw Convention may still apply. If a country has ratified neither the Montreal nor Warsaw Conventions, then no international treaty would apply and the carrier would establish its own limits of liability.

Carriers also set specific time limits for making claims about mishandled baggage – they can be found in the carrier’s tariff.

If you discover that your baggage did not arrive with you or it is damaged, be sure to report it immediately to your carrier and obtain tracking information, ideally before you leave the airport since there are specific time limits for reporting mishandled baggage.

For claims relating to delayed or lost baggage, you must complain to the carrier within 21 days from the date the baggage should have been placed at your disposal. In the case of damage, passengers are required to complain to the carrier of the damage within 7 days from the date of receipt. Every complaint must be made in writing and sent within the time limits listed above. If you do not make a written complaint within the prescribed deadline, the carrier has no obligation to compensate you.

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