Bag missing a month, Air Canada still looking

A visiting student from Brazil is rapidly losing hope that he will ever see his luggage again before he returns home in the spring.

Student takes to Twitter to count the days his bag has been missing

OCAD University student Henrique Alves de Assis, started a daily count on Twitter tallying the number of days Air Canada has taken to find his missing bag. (Joe Fiorino)

A visiting student from Brazil who is worried that he will never see his luggage again after it was lost by Air Canada in January on his trip from the Brazilian capital to Toronto, has taken to Twitter to voice his displeasure with the airline.

Henrique Alves de Assis travelled from his home in Brasilia after winter break to study at OCAD University.

"I had a connecting flight through Chicago. And that was the last time I saw my bag," Alves de Assis told CBC Toronto.

When he arrived at Pearson International Airport on Jan. 19 and his bag did not, he spoke to an Air Canada baggage agent, left his name, address, phone number and received a file reference number.

That was a month ago.

"It's happened before, but I got my bag back in one or two days. I expected the same thing," he said.

Research work on missing laptop

It was a large bag with almost all his clothes, shoes and a laptop with much of his research on it.

Alves de Assis says he has been able to get by with almost no clothes in the winter by borrowing from friends, but after repeated phone calls and website chats inquiring about the status of his bag he still has no answer.

So he took to social media.

Henrique Alves de Assis Twitter campaign counts the days until he is reunited with his lost luggage (he hopes). (CBC News)

He created  a hashtag on twitter called "#DayWithNoBag." 

"One day with no bag ... two days with no bag. Now almost a month," tweeted Alves de Assis, who will be leaving Toronto to go home after his semester at OCAD University is over.

"They told me it's probably still in Chicago with no tag. Soon I go back to Brazil again and I still don't have my bag."

Peter Fitzpatrick, an Air Canada spokesman, said the company is still in the process of searching for Alves de Assis's bag.

"It is an active file and we are searching, so it is premature to discuss compensation as our priority is to return it to the customer," said Fitzpatrick by email.  "We are sorry for the problems he has encountered and we will reach out to update him."

Air Canada responds to Henrique Alves de Assis Twiiter campaign #DayWithNoBag. The airline says after almost a month, staff are still looking. (CBC News)

But Gabor Lukacs, an airline passenger rights advocate and co-founder of the Facebook group called Air Passenger Rights (Canada), says it doesn't matter if Air Canada is still searching — the airline owes Alves de Assis money.

"For the purpose of compensation, the baggage is deemed lost after 21 days," said Lukacs. "So the airline will have to compensate the passenger for the contents of the baggage and the bag itself."

Airline passenger rights advocate Gabor Lukacs, founder of Facebook Group AirPassengerRights (Canada) says passengers are eligible for compensation after 21 day, but there is a cap on reimbursements. (AirPassengersRights)

The passenger would have to write a letter of demand seeking compensation and after 30 days if the airline does not respond the case may have to go to small-claims court, said Lukacs.

The bad news is there is a cap on claims set at roughly $2,000. 

"I want my stuff back more than money or anything," said  Alves de Assis, who figures he's out of pocket about $5,000 mainly because he's missing his laptop computer.

Fitzpatrick, the Air Canada spokesman, advises customers that they should not place medication or valuables, including electronics, in their checked baggage. 


Philip Lee-Shanok

Senior Reporter, CBC National News

From small town Ontario to Washington D.C., Philip has covered stories big and small. An award-winning reporter with three decades of experience in Ontario and Alberta, he's now a Senior Reporter for the National Network based in Toronto. His stories are on CBC Radio's World Report, World This Hour, World at Six and The World This Weekend as well as CBC TV's The National and CBC News Online. Follow him on Twitter @CBCPLS.