Delayed Baggage: Step by Step Guide

Report your missing checked baggage at the airport

  • Complete a “Baggage / Property Irregularity Report” or “Missing Baggage Report” with the airline.
  • Record (audio / video) your interaction with the airline agents.
  • If you are unable to file a report, then document why:
    • record (audio / video) of the baggage agent refusing to take your report, or
    • take a photo of the abandoned baggage agent desk.

Interim Purchases and Expenses

  • Reasonable interim expenses include:
    • purchase or rental of items necessary for the purpose and circumstances of your travel, and
    • ground transportation necessary for making interim purchases or rentals.

Proof of Financial Loss

  • Ask for an itemized receipt for each expense (if possible), and keep your receipts. If receipts are not available, keep detailed notes of your purchases (date, description, and amount).

Liability Limits

  • The airline is liable for your reasonable interim expenses caused by delay of your checked baggage up to a certain amount:
    • CAD$2,000 (approx.) on international itineraries, which are governed by the Montreal Convention;
    • US$3,500 on domestic itineraries within the US;
    • On domestic itineraries within Canada:
      • CAD$1,500 on Air Canada,
      • CAD$1,800 on Porter, and
      • CAD$2,000 (approx.) on WestJet.
  • You can claim more than these amounts if you can prove that the delay was a result of willful misconduct of the airline and/or its agents.

Did your baggage arrive within 21 days?

Deadline and Form of Complaint

  • You must complain in writing to the airline about damage to your checked baggage within 21 days of getting it.
    • Complaint in writing means: email, fax, or registered mail.
    • Keep all records about the transmission and delivery of your written complaint.

To whom to Complain

  • The complaint must be sent to one or both of the following airlines:
    • the airline that checked in your baggage (“first carrier”), and
    • the last airline that handled your baggage (“last carrier”).

Content of the Complaint

  • Your written complaint should contain sufficient information to allow the airline to identify you and your bag:
    • Your name, mailing address, and email address.
    • Details of your travel: date(s), airline(s) involved, and flight number(s).
    • Baggage tag number(s).
    • Date and time when your baggage was delivered to you.
  • Keep your complaint simple and factual. Do not use qualifiers and refrain from expressing emotions (e.g., “horrible” or “You ruined my trip,” etc.).
  • Demand payment within 30 days.
  • Include documents supporting your complaint:
    • Copy or scan of your Baggage Irregularity Report, if you filed one at the airport, or evidence of your being unable to do so.
    • Copy or scan of your itinerary, boarding passes, and baggage identification tags (if available).
    • A table containing the date, description, and amount of all your expenses.
    • Copies or scans of all receipts supporting the expenses in the table.
    • An affidavit or witnessed declaration supporting the expenses in the table for which no receipt is available.
  • Never send original documents to the airline.

Deadline for Commencing Legal Action

  • If the airline refuses or ignores your claim, then you need to enforce your rights by commencing a legal action within a specific amount of time of your flight:
    • 2 years on international itineraries, which are governed by the Montreal Convention, and
    • the limitation period set out in the applicable provincial statutes on domestic itineraries.
  • If you miss this deadline you lose your rights to compensation.

Where and How to Commence Legal Action

  • You may choose between numerous venues for suing the airline, including:
    • The province where you purchased the ticket.
    • The province where the final destination on the ticket is located.
    • The province where the airline has its principal place of business.
  • You should file a claim in the small claims court of the province of your choice. The required forms and the court procedures may vary from province to province.

For International Itineraries Only