Lost Baggage: Step by Step Guide

Replacement

  • If your checked baggage has been missing for more than 21 days, you should replace its contents, and the suitcase.

Proof of Financial Loss

  • Ask for an itemized receipt for each item that you replace (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 expenses caused by damage to your 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 loss was a result of willful misconduct of the airline and/or its agents.

How to Seek Compensation

  • You should seek compensation for the loss of your checked baggage by sending a letter of demand by email, fax, or registered mail.
  • Keep all records about the transmission and delivery of your letter of demand.

From whom to Demand Compensation

  • The letter of demand 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 Letter of Demand

  • Your letter of demand 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)
  • Keep your letter 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 demand:
    • 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).
    • Table containing the date, description, and amount of all your interim expenses.
    • Table containing the description and value of all items in your lost baggage, including the suitcase.
    • Copies or scans of all receipts supporting the expenses in the tables.
    • An affidavit or witnessed declaration supporting the expenses in the tables for which no receipt is available.
  • Never send original receipts 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