Nova Scotia

WestJet must take more responsibility for lost bags, CTA rules

If WestJet damages or loses your baggage, it can’t pass the buck following a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling this week.

​Gabor Lukacs wins another passenger-rights case against a big airline company

A Westjet flight takes off in Vancouver en route to Whitehorse. The company can no longer pass the buck on baggage-related claims, the Canadian Transportion Agency has ruled. (Canadian Press)

If WestJet damages or loses your baggage, it can’t pass the buck following a Canadian Transportation Agency ruling this week.

The same applies for delays on flights.

Gabor Lukacs of Air Passenger Rights had filed a complaint against the WestJet policy of directing disgruntled passengers to the last carrier they’d travelled on, rather than the first, or the airline that actually destroyed or lost their property.

“WestJet can no longer pass the buck on baggage-related claims,” Lukacs said in a news release.

“WestJet must live up to its responsibility for loss, damage, or delay of checked baggage, and can no longer send passengers on a wild goose chase by redirecting them to other airlines.”

Lukacs claimed WestJet routinely sent complainants to the last carrier on a flight, even when WestJet started the trip or damaged the bags.

WestJet countered it had never said it was not liable in such situations, but that it directed passengers to the last carrier on their route "because it is the most appropriate and efficient means to seek a settlement," the CTA ruling noted.

WestJet spokeswoman Brie Ogle told CBC News that the company has always adhered to the rules. 

"Upon receipt of the [Lukacs] complaint, we voluntarily proposed to CTA that we would no longer direct guests to the final carrier for compensation (industry-wide standard of IATA 780). The decision merely confirms our own voluntary proposal," she said.

She added that the claim in question was for $25. 

CTA ruled based on the Montreal Convention, which states:

"As regards baggage or cargo, the passenger or consignor will have a right of action against the first carrier, and the passenger or consignee who is entitled to delivery will have a right of action against the last carrier, and further, each may take action against the carrier which performed the carriage during which the destruction, loss, damage or delay took place.

"These carriers will be jointly and severally liable to the passenger or to the consignor or consignee."

Lukacs, who lives in Halifax, celebrated the ruling as a victory for passengers.

Lukacs has a successful track record when it comes to fighting for passenger rights.

In 2013, the CTA upheld his complaint and ordered Air Canada to pay from $200 to $800 in cash to bumped passengers on domestic flights, depending on the length of the delay. 

Consumer advocate and frequent flier Gabor Lukacs has taken on the airlines a couple of times now, and won. (CBC)


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