Gill Charlton, The Daily Telegraph, May 10, 2013
Margaret McGowan, Edinburgh, writes
On January 20, I boarded a Lufthansa flight from Edinburgh to Buenos Aires via Frankfurt. The onward flight from Frankfurt was cancelled. We disembarked and returned to the terminal at 1am.
The Lufthansa crew said that we would receive hotel vouchers. After queuing for two hours, we were told that vouchers were being given out to business-class passengers only. We spent the night on the floor of the airport.
On arrival in Buenos Aires I discovered that Lufthansa had lost my suitcase. I filled in the “property irregularity report” and said it was vital the case was delivered to me within three days as I would be travelling on to Chile.
There was no news in the next two days, so I contacted my brother in Scotland, who phoned the airline’s offices in Britain and Germany. After a moment of hope when my case was located, he was told that it could not be delivered because its details had not been entered properly into the computer system.
It was 10 days later that Lufthansa phoned my brother to say it would deliver my suitcase to an address in Argentina. As I was no longer in the country, I asked for the case to be sent back to Scotland.
I completed Lufthansa’s online customer complaint form on February 16, asking for reimbursement for the financial outlay I had incurred. I received an acknowledgement but have heard nothing since. My delayed baggage claim is for a reasonable £410, which includes receipts for underwear, toiletries, a swimsuit, sunhat and a few outer garments, and a “no-show” fee of £46.50 for our first night’s accommodation in Buenos Aires.
Gill Charlton, Consumer expert, replies
Lufthansa apologises for the delay in dealing with your complaint and says the weather conditions in January created an unusually large backlog. It did finally respond to you on April 15.
It says that many flights were cancelled that evening, so it struggled to obtain enough hotel rooms. When this happens, the airline says it can be easier for passengers to secure their own room reservation. In such cases it will refund “reasonable costs”.
Airlines are not required by law to compensate passengers for delayed luggage. Some only give out toiletry kits or a small cash advance; others, including Lufthansa, consider larger claims when luggage is delayed for more than 24 hours. It says it usually repays 50 per cent of the cost of outerwear and 100 per cent of toiletries and underwear.
Lufthansa recognises that yours is a serious case of luggage mishandling. It is crediting £419.54 to your bank account to cover your expenses. It would not normally repay the cost of the lost night’s accommodation in Buenos Aires, but is covering this as a goodwill gesture and also sending you a bottle of champagne.
Ask the experts
Our Q&A service allows you can pick the brains of our experts at home and abroad. Email your query to [email protected] . We won’t be able to answer them all, but we will do our best.
About Gill Charlton
Gill is an expert on Cornwall and consumer issues, especially legal disputes.